Page last updated at 19:58 GMT, Tuesday, 2 September 2008 20:58 UK

Footballer accused of GBH attack

Jamie Stuart
Jamie Stuart appeared at Basildon Crown Court

A former England under-21 footballer has appeared in court accused of assaulting an opponent during a game.

Jamie Stuart, 31, denies GBH in connection with an incident during a Blue Square Premier League game between Grays Athletic and York City.

York City forward Chris Beardsley's jaw was broken on 22 September last year, Basildon Crown Court heard.

The off-the-ball clash happened 19 minutes into the game at Grays Athletic's ground in Essex.

Mr Beardsley told the court that the elbow to his face was the culmination of a series of incidents.

'Rough and tumble'

"Two or three minutes into the game I felt his arm in my back. Later I felt two forceful kicks to the back of my Achilles. It was a shock because we were not near the ball," he said.

Barrister Paul Raudnitz, defending Grays captain Mr Stuart, said such incidents were part of the "rough and tumble of football".

He added: "It's not Scrabble, it's not Tiddlywinks. It's a game where people get knocked from time to time, isn't it?"

Mr Beardsley responded: "No, I've been playing football for 20 years and the incidents were out of context with what I have come across. It was over-aggressive."

Centre-forward Mr Beardsley, who now plays for Kettering Town, in Northamptonshire, told the court he does not remember the actual strike to his face, and only recalls being on the floor after the incident.

Hospital operation

Mr Raudnitz said that Mr Stuart admitted responsibility for the blow, but said it was accidental.

Assistant referee Dean Martin spotted the offence and Mr Stuart was sent off for violent conduct.

Mr Beardsley reported the assault following an hospital operation, which saw three plates permanently inserted into his jaw.

Mr Stuart is currently captain and was vice-captain at the time of the incident.

He started his career at Charlton Athletic in 1995 and represented England at Under-21 level on four occasions.

The trial is expected to last a week.

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