Last updated : 03 August 2004 By editor
A MAN has told how "his life has changed forever" after a day trip to watch his favourite football team left him fighting for his life in hospital.

Manchester United fan Stephen Povah, aged 47, was attacked by a gang of Bolton Wanderers fans at Chorley Railway Station as he was on his way home from a derby game at the Reebok stadium. He suffered serious head injuries in the assault on February 22 last year and was in intensive care for three days following the unprovoked attack.

Eighteen months on, Mr Povah is still undergoing rehabilitation and walks with a stick. He suffers from memory loss, double vision, poor hearing and it is unlikely he will ever be able to return to work as an engineer.

Mr Povah said: "My life has changed forever. Nothing will ever be the same again. I am lucky to be still alive."

Ten men pleaded guilty to violent disorder last week at Preston Crown Court and are currently waiting to be sentenced.

Mr Povah cannot remember anything about the attack or the following weeks he spent in hospital. He had travelled to Chorley for a few drinks with a couple of friends and as they stood on the platform waiting for a train, he was set upon by the group of rival supporters and knocked unconscious.

Mr Povah was rushed to Chorley Hospital where he underwent a brain scan and then transferred to the Royal Preston Hospital for emergency surgery.He had a blood clot on his brain, his eye socket was so badly damaged it had to be reconstructed with metal plates and he had suffered a broken jaw. He was in intensive care unit for three days and then moved to a high dependency ward where he stayed for just over a fortnight. Mr Povah was then sent to Leigh Infirmary where he spent several weeks in rehabilitation before being allowed home.

He said: "We wanted to stay out of Bolton and away from any trouble hotspots so we decided to go to Chorley. I can't remember but I've been told we were waiting for the train and my two friends nipped to McDonalds for some food and I waited on the platform. Next thing the group of Bolton fans turned up.”

"I still go to Old Trafford to watch home games but I am so wary and I am always looking over my shoulder."

His partner Lesley, added: "I am very angry. They have pleaded guilty but only they know what happened that day. They have to live with what they did. He was unrecognisable when I saw him in hospital. His head had swollen to the size of a balloon and his eye was a mess. When he eventually came round, he didn't know where he was and who I was. It was awful. He couldn't walk, feed himself or anything."

The 10 Bolton men who have admitted taking part in the attack are: Anthony Bollard, aged 47, of Turnmoor Road; Ronald Brickles, aged 30, of Weymouth Street; Paul Kirkwood, aged 42, of High Avenue; John Bennet, aged 36, of Regents Walk; Anthony Charnock, aged 31, of Roundway; Gerrard Gallagher, aged 37, of Crompton Avenue; David Hough, aged 36, of Crompton Avenue; Timothy Hodge, aged 48, of Bury Road; John Norris, aged 40, of Bury Road; and Malcolm Cooling, aged 42, of Tarbet Drive.