THE brother-in-law of Saints star Rickie Lambert was punched to the floor at a Hampshire pub where the striker was enjoying drinks with his family.
Police dispatched six cars and a dog van to reports of 45 people involved in a mass fight at The Baddesley Arms in North Baddesley at about 11pm.
The pub landlady told how she was sent flying into a Christmas tree when she tried to split up the fight.
The footballer, the Championship’s leading scorer,was not involved in the brawl and was led to safety by family and friends.
He had been out at The Baddesley Arms in North Baddesley celebrating his team’s Boxing Day win over Crystal Palace when troubled flared late in the evening.
Landlady Dee Fleming, 55, who was at the bar at the time,said the brawl started when a punter lashed out at the player’s brother-in-law at the bar.
She said: “He got decked to the floor with an uppercut. I came out to try to separate it and flew into the Christmas tree.”
Mrs Fleming, who had taken on the Scottish and Newcastle pub with her partner three months ago, added: “It was this other guy that landed that one punch and everybody came running down to see what was happening. There was one punch after another. It was frightening.
“I phoned 999 to get the police. I got them all out. It all ended up down the bottom of the car park.”
Mrs Fleming said that the striker, who had been sitting at a table with his mum, dad, and other family having a “laugh and a joke”, was n o t involved in the fight and was walked away as the melee, involving at least a dozen people,was moved outside.
“It was nothing to do with him, apart from his brother-in-law being hurt.
Everyone was just walking him away, his friends and family. Because he’s a footballer they didn’t want him getting hurt.”
Mrs Fleming said the pub was busy with regulars, families and children and she had put on a free jukebox and free pool.
“There’s always one that spoils Christmas for everyone.I’m gutted really,” she said.
A police spokeswoman said they were investigating a public order incident at the pub just after 11pm but had made no arrests, and no allegations of assault or criminal damage had been made.
She said more than a dozen officers in seven police vehicles, including a dogs van, had been sent to the pub following a report of 45 people in a fight, although most were called off as it had broken up by the time the first officers arrived.
She said one person sustained a minor inquiry.
The spokeswoman confirmed the footballer was present but added there was no suggestion he was involved in the fight in any way.
The 29-year-old, bought from Bristol Rovers for £1m in August 2009, is due to lead the Saints attack when they take on Bristol City at St Mary’s on Friday night when a win would see the team start the New Year top of the Championship.