A fine morning at Ruskin Drive and fine turnout to celebrate the planned European Super League gave no hint of trouble ahead. But if we ever needed a reminder of our age and frailty then it was soon to come. 20 warmed up and reacquainted themselves with soccer drills, thanks to Der Drill Meister Coach John Davies. We elected to use the vast expanses of available AstroTurf in a full scale 10 a side encounter. Red/Orange faced Blues to ensure everyone had a full game to test their mettle. Debutant John Carson, formerly of Rainhill Town (though not recently) lined up in Blue to take his place alongside David T, Andy, Len, Martin B, Alex, Geoff, Colin, Mick and Wayne. Red/Orange included Phil, Les, Peter, Dave C, Chris, John H, Tom, Steve, Joe and Jeff.
But the game ended abruptly with the sight of John Carson crumpled on the pitch with his legs and knees buckled beneath his body. The incident, a pure football accident, occurred with no opposition player within a yard of the unfortunate new boy. As is usual with any tumble, play immediately stopped as help arrived to offer the stricken player any help we could muster. We quickly learned that both legs were evidently injured so the Chairman contacted the ambulance services. As we waited John was able to recover movement and some comfort to his left leg, however his injured right knee remained immobile. We await news of the outcome, our thanks must go to the players who stayed with him to ensure his condition stabilised.
So in true Walking Football style play, switched to an adjacent pitch minus Peter, Steve and Coach Davies. A slight juggling of the players remaining meant after a delay of 10 or 15 minutes we resumed with a lively game that included some moments of real quality. Footballers of any age are renowned for their gallows humour. So as John lay clearly unable to continue, he was asked if he could perhaps roll gently to the touch line? Getting nowhere with that notion it was then suggested that we place 4 cones around his body to segregate the area whilst we play on. This brought a laugh to the fallen comrade, a reminder that footballers are indeed a different breed.
Martin B opened the scoring for Blues as they enjoyed the early exchanges. Our Cockney sparrow held his nerve to pick his spot when 1on1 with the Reds keeper. Despite a spirited fight back, Reds couldn't breach the Blues rearguard with Andy, Martin B and Geoff in sparkling form. Somewhat against the run of play Blues doubled their advantage when Len crashed a fine drive home after good work by the ever-willing Colin. At this point Blues probably should have pushed on but the Red/Orange dug deep to hold out. As the game switched from end to end, it was Reds that found a way to create an opening through Chris and Joe that John H cooly slotted in the far corner. 2-1 to Blues with time running out. With the next goal crucial it fell to Les to provide the pass of the day to give Joe the chance he calmly converted from close in, 2-2 and a fitting end to some excellent passages of play.
As the players trooped over to see their stricken chum, the news was slightly better but the ambulance was still to arrive at the scene. By 1:45 Dave C and Peter had to leave to travel to leafy Cheshire. Tom, Colin and Coach Davies stayed with John C to await the ambulance arrival.
Ambulance finally arrived on site at 4:20 almost 5 hours after the original call. John C was given gas and air, he seemed comfortable which is amazing given the delay in receiving any attention. The paramedics removed him to hospital for x rays and diagnosis. It is thought he may have a dislocated knee, though this is yet to be confirmed. A special thanks to Helen the Duty Manager of the facilities at Ruskin Drive who offered her help throughout the crisis. On a very warm and sunny day she thoughtfully provided cooling relief to John and an umbrella to shield him from the midday sun.
We‘ve some lessons to learn from the incident and actions will be taken to comfort injured players. But we all need to remind ourselves that injuries are an unfortunate part of the game. As a Club we need to look at minimising those circumstances as best we can. Our thoughts are with John Carson for a speedy recovery We hope to see you once again involved in a St Helens WFC session as soon as you can return.