A WORLD-CLASS bowler has been beaten-up and left with serious head injuries on a night out in Hartlepool.
Champion sportsman Jonathan Ross had been competing at Hartlepool Indoor Bowl’s Club and afterwards went for a few drinks with a friend in the town centre after taking part in a prestigious competition in the town.
The attack has angered organisers of the town event, which saw 72 of the best players in the British Isles, competing over the wweekend at the Hartlepool and District Indoor Bowls Club, between Mill House Leisure Centre and Hartlepool United’s Victoria Park.
Club steward Phil Quinn said: “We had a good competition here and it’s put a bit of a dampener on it.
“It makes you feel awful that a man has travelled all over the world comes to Hartlepool and this happens. It gives the whole town a bad name.”
The 37-year-old Northern Irishman - well-known on the global bowling circuit for his talent - was in Victoria Road at the junction with Stockton Street when he was set upon by two thugs in what police have described as a “seemingly unprovoked attack.”
The bowler - ranked 15th best in the world - was left in the street with serious head injuries and was rushed to the James Cook University Hospital by ambulance around 3.30am on Bank Holiday Monday.
He was treated for his injuries by doctors and has been allowed to return to his home in Paisley, near Glasgow, in Scotland, where he is said to be recovering today.
His pal, a 25-year-old man from Peterlee, is believed to have escaped with minor injuries which did not require medical treatment.
Two men, aged 54 and 24, from Hartlepool, have been arrested on suspicion of GBH with intent and have been bailed until June while police carry out further investigations.
Despite the arrests officers have launched an appeal for witnesses to pass on any information they might have about the attack.
A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “We were called to reports of an assault against two men in Victoria Road in the early hours of Bank Holiday Monday.
“A 37-year-old man was taken to hospital by ambulance with serious head injuries and underwent treatment. He has since been released.
“This was a seemingly unprovoked attack against a man who was simply enjoying a night out in Hartlepool.
“We would urge anyone who witnessed what happened, or who knows who is responsible to get in touch with police.”
Mr Ross holds Irish National Outdoor and Indoor titles, and boasts wins including British Isles Singles Champion 2001, 2002 and World Outdoors Gold Medal for Ireland in 2004.
He took up bowling at the age of four-and-a-half after watching bowls on television and is still wishing to achieve his first world bowls title.
Anyone who can help with the police investigation should telephone (01642) 302178 or Crimestoppers on (0800) 555111.