Grangemouth’s pitch punch victim speaks out

The scene of the incident
The scene of the incident
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The victim of a horrific assault which took place on the pitch during an amateur football match hopes his attacker learns his lesson in court.

Gary Gray (29), of Grangemouth, told The Falkirk Herald this week he was divided over the fate of Thomas McCourt (25), who is awaiting sentence for the assault he committed on September 17, 2011 - a punch to the face which left Gary with permanent nerve damage.

He said: “Do I want him punished and put in prison? Yes and no. It was just one punch, but I have daughter and one punch could have killed me - you can kill someone with one punch.

“I have had no apology from him, nothing at all.”

McCourt, of Mossvale Walk, Craigend, Glasgow appeared at Stirling Sheriff Court on Monday having pled guilty to punching, severely injuring and permanently disfiguring his victim at the LK Galaxy pitches, Grange Road, Grangemouth.

Initially denying the charge against him, McCourt was set to go to trial, claiming he had acted in self-defence on the day in question.

However, he changed his plea of not guilty to guilty before the trial took place.

The incident happened when Gary’s team, Grangemouth Amateur FC, was taking on McCourt and Cumbernauld Clyde FC in a Fosters Central Scotland Amateur League clash.

Although the nightmare attack happened well over a year ago, Gary still remembers it as if it was last weekend.

He said: “A fight broke out at the far end of the pitch.

“I was 40 yards away from it, talking to one of the other team’s players and had nothing to do with the fight. Then this player came at me from 40 yards away and punched me.

“He hit me under my right eye - I felt like my head was going to explode.”

The match continued, but the game was over for Gary, who was rushed to hospital with a fractured cheekbone.

“I had eye tests and then I had to go for surgery a week later to put the bone back into place.

“They managed to repair the cheekbone and the doctors said it was as successful as they could have hoped.”

However, the impact of the punch left Gary with permanent nerve damage which means he will have a constant reminder of the day of the attack for the rest of his life.

“The side of my nose and three of my teeth are still numb, I can’t feel anything and my right eye twitches quite a bit.”

To this day Gary, who is back playing with Grangemouth Amateur FC again, does not know why McCourt decided to hit him.

“I can’t understand what was going through his mind. Maybe I was just unlucky to be the first person he saw so he hit me. Nothing happened between us earlier in the match to lead to this.”

McCourt’s case has been adjourned and he will appear later for sentencing.

Sheriff Wyllie Robertson told him: “All options are live and that includes a custodial sentence.”