A pensioner who was left with a black eye in an unprovoked assault at a Barnstaple bowling club said he was ‘frightened to death’.

Phillip Williams, 70, had just enjoyed a game of bowls when the attack happened at Rock Park Bowling Club at around 9.20pm on Monday, July 23.

The former head potter at Brannams said he was called outside by some of his friends when the two teenagers began circling the bowling green on bikes.

When some of the club members tried to restrain the pair, one of them lashed out, hitting Phillip on the side of his face and momentarily knocking him unconscious.

Phillip told the Gazette: “It frightened me to death. I’ve never been frightened in my life; I’ve always been able to handle myself.

“You just don’t expect it when you’re playing a friendly game of bowls.”

His granddaughter Katie Williams posted on Facebook appealing to find the two young men, and the post has been shared more than 4,000 times.

Phillip Williams, 70, suffered a black eye in the assault in Rock Park. Picture: ContributedPhillip Williams, 70, suffered a black eye in the assault in Rock Park. Picture: Contributed

She’s had messages from across the globe, including from one of her grandfather’s old schoolfriends who now lives in America.

Phillip was described by Katie as ‘the softest man you’ll ever meet’, and she said he ‘did not deserve’ the attack.

Katie said her grandfather had been scared to leave the house since, but he made himself go back to play bowls the following evening.

“I had to, didn’t I? I couldn’t let it beat me,” said Phillip.

“Everyone was very supportive and the chap I was playing against messaged me before saying he understood if I didn’t want to come and play.

“I played a singles match but I didn’t play very well; I lost.”

Phillip Williams, pictured several days after the assault. Picture: Sarah HowellsPhillip Williams, pictured several days after the assault. Picture: Sarah Howells

The grandfather-of-two and great-grandfather-of-one said he had been playing at the club for around four years.

He has since had to go for an x-ray on his face, and said he is suffering with pain, as well as bruising and swelling.

Phillip is due to speak to police later today (Thursday) as part of the investigation.

A police spokeswoman said officers were investigating the incident where two teenage boys entered the bowling club and were ‘involved in an altercation with each other’.

She said: “During the fight an elderly man who was playing bowls has been punched in the face in an unprovoked assault (believed caught in the crossfire between the teens).

“Suspects are described as two male teenagers. One had a bicycle. One was wearing a white T-shirt and they were in the company of three females.”

Anyone who witnessed the incident or has information to assist with the police investigation is asked to contact police via 101@dc.police.uk or by phone on 101, quoting crime reference CR/066504/18.