Ex-Stenhousemuir defender Scott Buist (33) accused Robert McFarlane – who had been standing near the bar in Bainsford’s Blue Bell – of “staring at him all night”.
Mr McFarlane (50) replied, “No I haven’t”, but Buist, a Rangers signing in his youth who also played for Brechin City, Stirling Albion and Alloa Athletic, punched him the head.
Stirling Sheriff Court heard a “single, powerful blow”, caught on CCTV, caused Mr McFarlane to fall over a small step, breaking his ankle, before slumping unconscious to the floor.
Mr McFarlane’s wife Nicola went to her husband’s aid, but Buist pushed her out of the way, causing her to fall to the floor as well, sustaining bruises, before he left the premises.
Prosecutor Cheryl Clark said Buist returned briefly to the bar, following the December 31, 2017 incident, to retrieve his mobile phone, and was arrested.
Buist, now working as a pipelayer, had his football career cut short when he injured his knee playing for Stenhousemuir, pled guilty to charges of assault to injury and assault to severe injury.
Simon Hutchison, defending, said Buist had been in the bar with his elderly dad.
Mr Hutchison said: “He had been threatened earlier in the pub by people that were with Mr McFarlane. His 70-year-old father had also been threatened. He punched Mr McFarlane once, but it was a significant punch, so Mr McFarlane fell to the floor and broke his ankle.
“Mr Buist then went to leave the pub and Mrs McFarlane went to stop him, and he pushed her away. There was no other violence, that was it, but there had been a background in the pub of bad blood.”
Mr Hutchison said Buist’s wife was now pregnant, they own their own house, he had a good job earning up to £600 a week laying gas pipes, and only one previous conviction for assault many years ago.
Sheriff William Gilchrist said the incident appeared to be “out of character” and sentenced Buist, Douglas Terrace, Stirling, to carry out 225 hours of unpaid work, and ordered him to pay Mr McFarlane £1500 compensation.