How does a football club manager deal with injury – when it’s his own?
Meet Richard Ibbs, 32, who is in charge of AC Milton.
Now it’s not as if he’s got access to the medical support and physiotherapy enjoyed by the likes of David Beckham, but that’s no reflection on his dedication to his club.
Rich sustained his injury whilst helping out his men.
“Basically didn’t have enough players to start the game with, we only had ten players so I decided to help the lads out and actually play,” he explained.
“So during the course of the game I was passing the ball with my left foot and a defender came through my standing right knee – and as they’ve taken it straight through, that’s literally thrown me in the air and snapped my patellar tendon.”
He wasn’t prepared for the pain!
“It felt like somebody had literally blown my leg off. It felt like I’d stood on a landmine or something like that – that’s the only thing that I could imagine it would feel like. The whole of the bottom of my leg felt like it was hanging off.”
After a disagreement with the referee about exactly how he was to leave the pitch, he ended-up having to be “manhandled” off by his team members, then taken to hospital.
Initially Rich thought he’d “just sprained something” but ended up undergoing surgery to replace his kneecap and stitch back his tendon, because there was a five-to-six centimetre gap between the ends of it.
He’ll be in a leg splint for four weeks, then in a brace with restricted movement for six more – and that’s before he even starts physio on the leg.
“If I was a tradesman, you’d be talking 10 weeks off work. Because I do have an office-based job, hopefully, I can possibly even start work from home maybe in four weeks, but it’s going to be quite a substantial amount of time off work.”
In the short-term, those 10 weeks will compromise pre-season training, and in the long-term, Rich has to come to terms with some very harsh realities.
“I’m not going to deny it, it’s almost made me cry while I was in hospital when they said to me after the ultrasound, you know, ‘You’re probably not going to play football again’ or ‘You’re very stupid if you decide to play football again at a competitive level’.”
Rich has taken his side to Sunday Coors Premier League from the Third Division.
He’s keen stress his club is a work-in-progress – ” a group of friends who are trying to evolve a community football team that everybody can be proud of”.
I’ve got a hunch that no injury’s going to get in the way of this goal.