Page last updated at 14:25 GMT, Monday, 6 July 2009 15:25 UK

Footballer jailed for match death

Stephen Ritchie
Stephen Ritchie was described as a "much loved and well liked man"

An amateur footballer who killed a rival player in west London in a row after a game has been jailed for 28 months at the Old Bailey.

Stephen Ritchie, 43, was attacked after tempers flared between two rival teams during a post-match brawl in Harlington, in November 2008.

He was hit so hard that his head twisted round and ruptured his arteries as he stumbled and fell to the ground.

Darren Forwood, 21, from West Drayton, had pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

'Utterly defenceless'

Judge Jeremy Roberts said: "This arose out of a football match which had degenerated into aggression and violence on both sides, which spilled over from the pitch and off the pitch."

Mr Ritchie was killed following a game between his team Old Greenfordians and Forwood's team Kingshill Town, who were "close rivals" in the Hayes and District Sunday Football League Division One, the court heard.

After the game a number of angry Kingshill players who blamed Mr Ritchie for their defeat confronted him.

"Some of the players from both teams were trying to form a physical barrier but this defendant Darren Forwood came round the back of the barrier," said Timothy Cray, prosecuting.

"He came up behind the victim and Mr Ritchie, who couldn't have sighted him, was utterly defenceless as the blow was given.

"The blow was delivered with sufficient force to knock Mr Ritchie off his feet."

Forwood had previous convictions for common assault and affray.

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