Page last updated at 17:26 GMT, Thursday, 23 July 2009 18:26 UK

Gerrard 'sorry' over fight in bar

Steven Gerrard outside Liverpool Crown Court
Mr Gerrard told the court he was used to members of the public insulting him

England midfielder Steven Gerrard has told Liverpool Crown Court he is "sorry" about a fight in which he punched a man in a Merseyside bar.

The Liverpool FC captain has admitted hitting Marcus McGee, 34, in the Lounge Inn, Southport, in December last year but said he was defending himself.

But Mr Gerrard added: "I am certainly mistaken in thinking he was coming towards me to throw punches at me."

The 29-year-old footballer, of Formby, Merseyside, denies affray.

Mr Gerrard was drinking with friends in the early hours of 29 December last year to celebrate Liverpool's 5-1 win over Newcastle United.

It was very difficult at the time to explain to police why I did throw that first punch
Steven Gerrard

"I certainly knew I had had a drink," said Mr Gerrard, who estimated he was seven out of 10 on a drunkenness scale.

"I was certainly in control of how I felt in my surroundings," he told the court.

Mr Gerrard said he was given permission by the club manageress to choose music from a stereo Mr McGee was operating.

The footballer said he and Mr McGee had an argument for four or five seconds and then he walked away, but returned a few minutes later.

Mr Gerrard said it was a heated discussion with Mr McGee and explained that he wanted to "smooth things over".

But Mr Gerrard told the court he felt he had to hit Mr McGee to defend himself.

'Raised arms'

"It was very difficult at the time to explain to police why I did throw that first punch.

"We were arguing and I told the police I felt that Marcus came towards me and that's why I raised my arms.

"I firmly believed Marcus came towards me to hit me."

Steven is a terrific ambassador for our club and city
Statement from LFC chaplain, the Reverend Bill Bygroves

Mr Gerrard described raising his left arm and swinging it towards Mr McGee, making contact with him with his wrist.

He said: "I grabbed the back of his jumper as he moved forward to me.

"When I had hold of Marcus, I remember swinging my right hand two or three times."

In Mr McGee's evidence to the court, he said he did not know that John Doran, a friend of Mr Gerrard, had thrown the first punch.

Mr Gerrard reiterated that he was unaware that Doran, 29, had lashed out and therefore, when Mr McGee came towards him, he thought he was in danger. Asked how he felt now about hitting Mr McGee, Gerrard said: "I am certainly mistaken in thinking he was coming towards me to throw punches at me.

"Now I know, obviously, he had been struck, reacted and thought the strike was by me and he came into me and that's when I reacted.

"I am sorry about the whole incident."

'Lot of mither'

The court heard earlier that Mr Gerrard had not been in any kind of trouble with the police since he was banned from the roads for nine months for drinking and driving when he was 19.

The footballer told the court that he suffered "a lot of mither" in bars and other places such as shopping centres and restaurants.

"For example, because I am a footballer, sometimes I get supporters coming up to me, be they Liverpool fans or Everton or Manchester United fans, and sometimes the comments can be derogatory or insulting.

"So I try to deal with it in the best way I can."

Character references for Mr Gerrard, provided by former Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish and the club's chaplain the Reverend Bill Bygroves, were read out to the jury.

Mr Dalglish said the midfielder was "very responsible" and "humble".

Mr Bygroves said: "Steven is a terrific ambassador for our club and city."

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CCTV of Gerrard incident released

Doran, of Woodlands Road, Ian Gerrard Smith, 19, of Hilary Avenue, and Paul McGrattan, 31, of Linden Drive, all Huyton, have all admitted affray.

Accrington Stanley footballers Robert Grant, 19, of Enstone Avenue, Litherland, and Ian Dunbavin, 28, of Guildford Road, Southport, have also admitted affray.

John McGrattan, 34, of Rimmer Avenue, Huyton, has admitted threatening behaviour after denying affray.

The trial was adjourned until Friday, when the judge will begin his summing up of the case.



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Gerrard affray trial is adjourned
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