EXCLUSIVE: Christmas bash! Everton coach is accused of punching woman keeper at party
22:05 GMT, 21 December 2012
An Everton academy coach has been suspended while Merseyside Police investigate complaints he punched the club's women's team goalkeeper in the face at the staff Christmas party.
The shocking incident involving Mick O'Brien, who looks after Everton's nine to 11 year olds, and second-choice keeper Danielle Hill took place around midnight last Sunday outside the Blue Bar on Liverpool's Albert Dock as the function was breaking up.
Hill, 24-year-old niece of former England striker Mark Hateley, reported the alleged attack to Merseyside police and went to hospital for a check-up on minor facial injuries.
Claim: It is alleged that O'Brien (right) punched Everton stopper Danielle Hill
Police are making enquiries and Everton are holding an extensive internal investigation.
The club have suspended Hill, understudy to Team GB keeper Rachel Brown, along with former Torquay midfielder O'Brien, 33, while the two probes continue over the Christmas period.
There are understood to be conflicting reports as to who threw the first punch in a fight that is the talk of a club viewing the clash with the utmost seriousness.
Probe: Hill and O'Brien have both been suspended by Everton
But whatever the outcome of the inquiries, the fracas is another unseemly chapter in the history of wild behaviour at football clubs' Christmas parties.
The Everton bash was attended by administrative staff, academy and community coaches as well as the women's team.
Neither manager David Moyes nor his first-team squad were present.
A police statement said: 'Merseyside Police can confirm an investigation is underway following the assault of a 24-year-old woman in Liverpool city centre on Sunday, December 16.
'The incident occurred near to the entrance of the Blue Bar in the Albert Dock at about midnight. The 24-year-old was punched in the face during the incident.
An investigation into the full circumstances of the incident is ongoing.'
Everton made no comment.