A COLCHESTER United player was arrested after an end-of-season town centre drinking session led to two punch-ups.

Joe Edwards, who played 45 times for the relegated U’s last season, was arrested on suspicion of assault, criminal damage and affray after a late night fight outside the Kings Arms, in Crouch Street, Colchester.

He has been bailed by police pending further enquiries.

The alleged incident took place when a group of players hit the town after losing 2-1 at home to Rochdale on the last day of the season.

But after hours of drinking, things initially turned sour when the group - which included about a dozen players and their friends - were asked to leave the beer garden of the Kings Arms, in Crouch Street.

The pub is owned by Greene King, an official partner of the club.

Onlookers said as the group moved inside the pub to protest against the decision, tempers flared which resulted in the landlord of the popular pub, Siobhan Walters, being struck in the face.

Her injuries are not thought to be serious and there is no suggestion any U's players were responsible.

The incident has, though, been reported to police.

The footballers then left the venue and continued their night in Missoula, in Head Street.

But shortly before 11pm, the group returned to Crouch Street and a fight broke out after they tried to get back into the Kings Arms.

During that fracas, one man, aged in his thirties, was knocked unconscious.

Mr Edwards, who plays in midfield and defence for the U's, was one of two 25-year-old men arrested at the scene and bailed until July.

There is no suggestion any other U's players were arrested or engaged in fighting.

An Essex Police spokesman said: "Police were called at 10.55pm on Sunday, May 8 to a report of a disturbance at the Kings Arms, Crouch Street, Colchester.

"Officers attended and arrested two men from Colchester on suspicion of assault, criminal damage and affray.

"The men, aged 25, were taken into custody for questioning.

"They were later released on police bail pending further enquiries until July."

The spokesman confirmed the pair's three alleged offences took place between 7.20pm and 11.55pm.

An East of England Ambulance Service Trust spokeswoman said: "An ambulance crew was called to an incident on Crouch Street at 10.57pm on May 8.

"An ambulance attended and treated a man in his thirties, who was unconscious and breathing.

"He was taken to Colchester General Hospital."

On the incident inside the Kings Arms, a Greene King spokeswoman said: "Greene King does not tolerate any anti-social or violent behaviour in our pubs and we work to ensure they are a safe and sociable place both for guests and our team members.

"We are supporting the pub manager who has been injured in this incident and wish them a speedy recovery.

"This is now a police matter and we are doing everything we can to assist their investigation."

On the second incident, outside the pub, she added: "We always take steps to ensure all our guests enjoy a great time and anyone breaching our code of conduct will be excluded from our premises.

"This fight did not happen in the pub and these people were not our guests at the time of the incident.

"The fight happened outside the pub when these people were denied access to the premises."

Colchester United did not comment when approached.