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A football manager has told a jury how the only person he saw after he was shoved into a metal post in the tunnel after a League One match, injuring his face, was rival coach Joey Barton.
Daniel Stendel was giving evidence at the trial of former England international Barton who is accused of assaulting the German coach at the end of a match between Barnsley and Fleetwood Town, at the South Yorkshire team’s Oakwell Stadium, on April 13 2019.
At the time, Mr Stendel was managing Barnsley, who won the match 4-2, and Barton was in charge of Fleetwood Town.
Giving evidence through an interpreter at Sheffield Crown Court on Monday, Mr Stendel described how he was walking down the tunnel towards the dressing rooms when he was surprised by a push from behind.
He said: “I got a hard shove on my right shoulder.
“Because I hadn’t expected it, I couldn’t react very quickly.
“I then fell forward, without being able to protect myself, into the metal bars in the tunnel.”
Asked by Ian Goldsack, prosecuting, how hard the push was, Mr Stendel told the jury of seven women and five men: “I’m quite tall and quite sporty. So, it was more than a normal push.
“It was a forceful shove, otherwise wouldn’t have fallen over”.
He said: “I couldn’t stay on my feet.”
Asked what happened immediately after he was injured, Mr Stendel said: “I felt the pain and I briefly looked up. I thought that someone would actually help me.
“I lifted my head and I just saw one person and it was Joey Barton, who walked around the corner.
“That was the only person that I saw.”
Asked by Simon Csoka QC, defending, whether he had “just assumed that it was Mr Barton” due to tensions in the match before, Mr Stendel said: “I can only say that I was pushed extremely.
“And directly after that happened I saw Joey Barton. These are the two things I can say.”
Mr Stendel told the jury about an incident at the previous fixture between the two teams, at Fleetwood, in September 2018.
He said Barton was intimidating towards him after that game, which was also won by Barnsley, and squashed his hand during the post-match handshake.
The coach said: “The usual handshake was more of a squash-my-hand than shake hands.”
He said that was “very unusual” and “it had never happened to me before”.
Mr Stendel said that when the teams met again in April 2019, he was surprised how normal the atmosphere was after what happened seven months before.
He confirmed that his Barnsley team led 2-0 at half-time and there were more goals in the second half.
Asked if he had any contact with Barton during the second half, he said: “After the goal, he came to our bench and had a go at me saying I shouldn’t celebrate the goals like that.”
He said: “He was annoyed and aggressive.”
Mr Stendel added: “I just said I was pleased about our goal. I wasn’t against him or his team.”
He said he was in contact with Barton again after the final whistle: “In the second half the atmosphere had got a bit tense.
“I didn’t really know if there was going to be a shake-hands. We approached each other and I went to give him my hand shake.
“He was very annoyed and aggressive. As far as I could understand, he was swearing at me.”
Mr Stendel said he tried to reason with Barton but “he continued swearing at me”.
The jury was shown video footage of Mr Stendel leaving the pitch after the match and walking into the tunnel at the corner of the ground.
The footage shows Barton running into the tunnel shortly after and the structure shaking slightly a moment later.
A different camera caught Mr Stendel being carried towards the dressing rooms with blood on his face.
Mr Stendel said one of his teeth was bent backwards in the collision with the metal post to the extent he thought he had lost it. He said he also suffered bruising to his arm, hand and knee.
Opening the prosecution earlier, Mr Goldsack told the jury that Barton provided a prepared statement to police after he as arrested in which he accepted using “industrial language” on the touchline but denied barging into or assaulting Mr Stendel in the tunnel.
Barton, who is now Bristol Rovers manager, denies one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
He sat in the dock wearing a dark blue suit, a lighter blue shirt and a dark tie.
Barnsley FC performance analyst intern Nathan Kirby told the jury he clearly saw Barton shoulder-barge Mr Stendel.
Mr Kirby said he was walking just behind the manager when the defendant brushed his shoulder in the tunnel.
He said: “Mr Barton carried on jogging and angled his run to shoulder-barge Mr Stendel with reasonable force in his back, causing Mr Stendel to fall forward and hit his face on a metal bar.”
Mr Kirby said: “It was clearly Mr Barton.”
Mr Goldsack asked him: “Are you in any doubt as to who it was who made contact?”
Mr Kirby said: “No.”
Barnsley FC media officer Andrew White told the jury Barton was aggressive towards Mr Stendel at the end of the match.
Mr White said: “Daniel is Daniel – harmless. The other gentleman was very angry.”
The witness said he did not hear what Mr Stendel said but he did hear the defendant.
He said: “I heard the word German coming from Mr Barton. I heard the word c***.”
The trial was adjourned until Tuesday.