Youths attack bowling pensioners

Michael Concah, secretary of Ashton Bowling Club after the horrific attack

Michael Concah, secretary of Ashton Bowling Club after the horrific attack

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PENSIONERS were attacked by a gang of youths after asking them to stop playing football on a bowling green.

A group of up to 15 youths – a third of them young women – were playing football on the two crown greens at Ashton Recreational Bowling Club.

But when club officers asked them to move their game to an adjoining sports pitch to avoid damaging the green, swearing soon turned into horrific violence, which left two of the club committee members needing hospital treatment.

The club, off Council Avenue, has been the focus of anti-social behaviour in recent years.

But this is one of the most serious incidents yet.

A witness, who has asked not to be named for fear of repercussions, was walking nearby when he saw the confrontation explode into “a few minutes of mayhem”.

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He said that police were called and arrived within minutes, but the gang of youths, who were between 14 and 17, had vanished.

It’s believed they may have been drinking or smoking recreational drugs.

During the attack, bowling club secretary Michael Concah was punched to the ground, kicked, and his glasses were broken.

He was taken to Wigan Infirmary by ambulance where he was treated for bruising to his right eye socket and cuts.

Committee member and treasurer John Sudworth, who joined Mr Concah in asking the gang to move on to the football pitch, was knocked over and struck while on the ground.

He went to the Wigan Infirmary for X-rays on a possible broken rib.

Two other bowling club members suffered common assaults at the hands of the teenagers, although they declined to go to hospital for checks.

It is believed the gang turned ugly when club members produced mobile phones to record their faces for evidence.

At one point a youth removed his hoodie to challenge one of the pensioners to a fight.

In recent years the club’s greens have been damaged with fires and broken glass. But this is the first time that club officials have been attacked during an altercation.

A witness said: “I was left really staggered by it.

“I suppose the thing that shocked me was that this gang were so aggressive towards retired people.

“They want to play football on the greens because the grass is so short, but even these people can surely see the damage that feet are causing.

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“I know it is only a minority and most of the young people in Ashton are fine, but it worrying the way some teenagers turn when they are challenged.

“The club officials weren’t being aggressive, they were simply asking them to move onto the football fields and then all hell broke out.

“I saw lots of gesticulating from these louts, and swearing, and then one struck Mr Concah twice in the face knocking him over.

“Another started kicking him while he lay on the floor.

“Most of them weren’t involved in the violence but they weren’t stopping it either.

“At one point, one of these teenagers took off his hoodie in a really threatening ‘I’m going to fight you full on’ gesture.

“We are talking about fighting pensioners here, so he was clearly a really, really brave young man.

“It really has come to something when retired people can’t even have a game of bowls.”

Police in Ashton say they are investigating the incident, which took place on Saturday at 2.15pm, and are appealing for witnesses to come forward.