Champs Ards honour horror assault player Gary Warwick
Team-mates pay emotional tribute to player recovering from brutal attack
A football club promoted to the local game's top flight has dedicated its success to one of its players, who is still in hospital after being seriously assaulted on a night out.
Gary Warwick suffered a fractured skull in the assault in Belfast city centre.
Tonight Ards FC chairman Brian Adams will travel to the Royal Victoria Hospital to present Gary (25) with his Championship One winner's medal.
The league trophy and a special T-shirt worn by team-mates on Saturday after the match featuring a picture of Gary along with the words 'This one's for you Gary' will also be presented to the player.
On Saturday before Ards beat Loughgall 3-0 to win promotion the two teams engaged in a 30-second round of applause for the injured player.
Mr Adams said: "We just wanted to recognise that he hasn't been forgotten.
"His mother texted me today saying she appreciated what we did and that although Gazza is still in hospital, it is great that we won the league."
Mr Adams is going to visit Gary ahead of the Intermediate Cup Final tonight at the National Stadium, where Ards take on Institute.
"We have dedicated the title win to him, and in fact the whole end of the season has been dedicated to him," he told the Belfast Telegraph. Mr Adams visited Gary in hospital last week and said he was "very, very groggy" at that stage, but said scans have come back clear and they hope he can be released soon, and hopefully resume his football career.
"Gary is the team's free-kick specialist," the chairman explained.
"He wears the No.8 shirt and recently he hit the post against Lurgan Celtic and a team-mate netted the winner.
"I know he was trying to get out for Saturday, and I know he is trying to get out for the cup final."
Gary suffered a fractured skull in the early hours of Sunday, April 24.
He was assaulted in Patterson's Place as he was making his way home from a night out.
In a statement last week Ards manager Niall Currie said: "We are all sickened. I would just like to say to this quality young man that all of us at Ards Football Club are thinking about him.
"Everyone at the club sends their best wishes to Gary and hopes for a full recovery."