A GANG of thugs left an innocent football fan with serious brain injuries in a “ferocious attack” sparked by their earlier humiliation in a fight, a court heard.

Cambridge United supporter Simon Dobbin was among a group of fans who were assaulted in East Street, Southend, at 7.15pm on March 21, 2015.

A trial at Basildon Crown Court involving 13 men is expected to last up to eight weeks.

Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, said the attack was a “carefully prepared ambush” on fans who had played no part in earlier disturbances.

He said: “These defendants launched a ferocious attack. Bottles and glasses were thrown. During the attack one of the Cambridge supporters, Simon Dobbin, was kicked and stamped upon repeatedly. He sustained massive brain injuries.

“These defendants had no interest that afternoon in enjoying a football match. Their only interest lay in causing terrible and frightening violence.”

Mr Jackson told the court how Mr Dobbin, 44, had travelled by train with a friend to watch his team play at Roots Hall.

The pair initially went for a drink at the Railway Tavern, in East Street, designated by police for Southend fans, but then decided to leave for the Blue Boar, in Victoria Avenue, designated for away supporters. Both men then went to the stadium.

At about 2.30pm, a group of Southend fans got into a fight at the Spread Eagle, also in Victoria Avenue, with a group of Cambridge supporters.

Mr Jackson said this involved defendants Rhys Pullen, Ryan Carter, Scott Nicholls, and Michael Shawyer, known as “Little Man”. Text messages from Thomas Randall later suggested that Carter and Pullen had been “knocked out” and Shawyer was “fuming”.

Another message said: “Going to kick off big time after the game. We are going to ambush them.”

Mr Jackson said throughout the afternoon the defendants congregated in the Railway Tavern and could be seen on CCTV throwing mock punches.

At about 5pm, police broke up another fight between two sets of rival supporters outside the Railway Tavern.

After the game finished 0-0, Mr Dobbin and his friend left Roots Hall and returned to the Blue Boar to watch the England v France rugby match with fellow Cambridge fans.

Mr Jackson said: “None of them had been involved in any violence that day. The prosecution case is that these defendants were wholly indiscriminate as to who they targeted as long as they could be identified as Cambridge fans.”

Matthew Petchey and Phillip McGill went to the Blue Boar at about 6.35pm, where they were followed by Greg Allen, Alexander Woods, James Woods, Jamie Chambers and Ryan Carter. At one point, someone shouted: “Any Cambridge in here?”

The group then left, except for McGill, who stayed behind and made frequent phone calls to other members of the group.

Feeling intimidated and “in danger” the Cambridge fans left the pub and started to walk towards Prittlewell station. Mr Jackson said they were followed by McGill.

Upon reaching the junction of East Street and Station Approach, the supporters accidentally split into two groups, with Mr Dobbin and some others going the wrong way over a bridge, leaving them “entirely at the mercy” of the defendants.

The defendants can then allegedly be seen on CCTV leaving the Railway Tavern, some armed with bottles and glasses.

Mr Jackson said there is no CCTV footage of the “dreadful violence” that followed.

He said: “It isn’t possible to identify which of these defendants meted out that particular part of the violence. However, the prosecution say that acting together they had one common purpose and that was to threaten and use unlawful violence.”

Mr Jackson said witnesses reported seeing Mr Dobbin lying motionless on the ground, being hit repeatedly during the 90 second attack.

Following the incident, the group returned to the Railway Tavern, which was then cordoned off by police. CCTV footage showed Petchey mimicking a headbutt, Randall miming a kick and various members of the group hugging each other.

James Woods, Scott Nicholls, Michael Shawyer and Rhys Pullen ran after the other group of Cambridge fans, before also returning to the pub.

The trial continues.