In this article, we throwback when a footballer with a broken jaw after an on-pitch punch was BANNED for spitting at an attacker.
A good few years back, Karl Fellows was knocked out and needed emergency surgery following the on-pitch attack, but he had to serve a six-match ban for spitting prior to the incident.
He was knocked out during a midlands non league tie on New Year’s Day 2015, and was issued a six-match ban and being fined £40 by Worcestershire FA.
His alleged attacker was dealt with by the sport’s governing body after a police investigation into the incident left Karl ‘scarred for life’.
The individual was charged by police and appeared in court a month later after the trouble flared up in the match between Walsall Wood and Stourport Swifts, the Birmingham Mail reports.
Karl, who at the time was a community coach for Aston Villa, was taken to Sutton Coldfield’s Good Hope Hospital before then being transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Edgbaston.
— Aston Villa Women (@AVWFCOfficial) September 4, 2014
Speaking from hospital, the Solihull lad said: “At first, the doctors were hopeful that they could do the surgery from the inside of my mouth, but now the X-ray has shown that the damage is so extensive that they will have to cut my face, which will leave me scarred for life.”
Walsall Wood bosses have been quick to defend their player, claiming he “reacted instinctively” after being spat at.
An off-duty nurse who was at the game, along with club physiotherapists, rushed to Karl’s aid following the incident, which happened just before half time.
“The punch came from behind me,” he said.
“I didn’t even see who did it to me.
“One minute I was playing football, the next I was waking up in a hospital bed.
“At first, the doctors were hopeful that they could do the surgery from the inside of my mouth, but now the x-ray has shown that the damage is so extensive that they will have to cut my face, which will leave me scarred for life.”
Despite this, Walsall Wood bosses backed the individual accused of injuring Karl and pledged to stand by him during the legal case.
Following the incident, chairman Justin Hodgin said: “While the board of directors of Walsall Wood FC in no way condone violence, we do believe that now this has been brought into the public eye, the full facts of the incident need to be reported.”
Both men were sent off during the game, Karl immediately after coming round.
— Health Alerts (@healthoutbreaks) January 5, 2015
Karl said: “I have been playing football since I was six years old and I have seen all sorts of incidents on the pitch – but nothing like this.”
He added he was shocked by the ban, and is protesting his innocence, but appealing the punishment is not an option.
“I didn’t find out I’d been sent off until someone told me in hospital,” he said. “It’s an automatic ban so I can’t appeal. I don’t know if I’ll continue playing at the moment.”
He said,as quoted by the Daily Mail: “I can’t really remember much of it, because I was completely knocked out by the blow.
“But I know the punch came from behind. I was running back towards my goal to get the ball, and the next minute I was waking up in hospital.
“I’m still in excruciating pain, I can’t believe what has happened to me, I was just playing football.
“When I went under the knife I was just supposed to be there for an hour, but they found my jaw was so badly broken they needed to do more work to save it.
“The x-rays show the damage was so bad they have had to cut in from the outside rather than just through my open mouth.
‘That means I will have scars on the inside and outside of my mouth for the rest of my life.
“My face has been swollen, and my teeth are now completely rearranged.
“They said they managed to get the back teeth back in place, but it would take years and years for the front ones to come back, and they may well never do.
“I don’t think I will play again, not how I feel at the moment, it’s scary to think that could happen when you’re just there to play.
‘I coach football to young people and it is all about teaching respect. Players will always be injured, but being attacked, like I was, was disgusting.’
His father said he was left ‘horrified’ by the incident.
‘I wasn’t at the game but I got a call from Karl who could barely speak. I couldn’t believe it when he told me what had happened.
‘I’ve been refereeing football games for more than 20 years and I’ve never heard of an incident like it.
‘Karl lives and breathes football. To think that this will put him off playing again breaks my heart.’
A West Midlands Police spokesperson added: ‘A 21-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assault at Walsall Wood FC’s ground near Aldridge at around 4pm on New Year’s Day.
‘He has since been bailed for further questioning.’
The incident left him considering quitting the sport and fast forward to today, he is the coach of our U8KF team who play in the Central Warwickshire Youth Football League.
In April 2021, he was named the Solihull Moors Foundation ‘Hero of the Week’.
In a cup game against Arden Forest, the referee had miscounted how many penalties were taken, awarding the win to Karl’s team when in fact they were still drawing 2-2.
Karl and the U8KF team have asked the league for the game to be replayed, which showed great sportsmanship.
Our HERO OF THE WEEK is U8KF coach Karl Fellows! 🏆
In a recent cup game against Arden Forest, the referee MISCOUNTED during penalties, awarding the win to Karl’s team 😨
Karl and the U8KF team have asked the league for the game to be replayed – showing great sportsmanship 💛 pic.twitter.com/Nid0VEzXu2
— Solihull Moors Foundation (@MoorsFoundation) April 30, 2021