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.
None of this was directly down to an unhealthy choice, it was down to a supposedly healthy necessity – I’d broken a bone in my foot and doctors advised me not to do any exercise that involved putting weight on it (in other words my normal exercise routine!)
Admittedly I could have been more creative in how I adapted my workouts but in practice this didn’t happen.
One of the many results was a limited choice for work outfits for summer. A big bust, flabby upper arms and a slight belly are better off hidden under baggy black tops. The Guerrilla training I was forbidden to do would’ve sorted the issue.
Now, of course, that’s in the past. And I’m very, very grateful I can run today – I’m in my running gear as I type this and the sun is shining outside! Am I procrastinating?
Good Luck to everyone who likes working out but who’s still recovering from injury. It won’t happen overnight but it will happen! Hang on in there.
My inevitable fears over putting on weight led to an article on my pet hate – dieting. And I’ll level with you, the inevitable flabbiness caused by lack of exercise did impact on the choice of clothes I could wear for work in the unforgiving summer.
This has got to be my happiest post since I started blogging.
Yesterday I ran a ParkRun personal best.
Believe you me I thought I would never improve – but I smashed my last time by a minute!
The last time I visited ParkRun, a broken bone in my foot simply meant I was unable to run.
It was then, however, I learned for the first time that, when you run a personal best, you get to Honk The Duck!
Even once my recovery was sufficient for me to start running again, concerns about finishing near the back – or, God forbid, even last – kept me away from Hanley ParkRun since March. And that’s nearly a year ago.
Getting into the mind-set is everything – but I find this quote from John Bingham can help:
“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”
So, run I did.
Personally I really think the Guerrilla training really does help – particularly my least-favourite bit, the cardio!
The three-mile course does have quite a sharp hill right at the start, before you’re really into your stride.
Most times I immediately feel my lungs/heart protesting as the rest of the group surges ahead, but today that didn’t happen.
Needless to say, the support you get on the way round from marshals and other runners is fantastic – and towards the end a guy I know came back for me, and accompanied me on the last section, before letting me sprint to the finish.
Any duck-honking traditionally happens when you’re still at the bandstand, before said duck is packed away along with all the other equipment.
However, that only really applies to those who have timed themselves, as opposed to people like me who wait to get the result texted to them. I want to be accurate!
By the time this happened I was sitting in the ParkRun “café” (a church hall), drinking tea and eating hot buttered toast!
Today my body gets a High Five from me for its ability to fully recover.
And it was a special day for the kids involved in ParkRun too – all the volunteer positions were manned by youngsters, who had an adult present where applicable.
Director of the Hanley event Bryn Holmes explained: “Well, we often have juniors that volunteer on a weekly basis so we decided to have juniors like the event director, all the way down to the marshals, the scanners – and even down to the ticket sorting-out…”
“Hopefully one of the event directors of the future would’ve been here today – you never know!”
He admitted it was mainly the idea of his 11-year-old daughter Millie, who, with another girl, got to be run director – addressing the 232 runners before they all set off.
She admitted: “Yes I was nervous, because it could’ve all gone wrong! It was fun, but kind of harder than I expected.”
ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) Injury is common among footballers – and can bring with it a frustratingly-long recovery period.
In April I spoke to Jonty Sargent – a football-mad sports presenter at Signal Radio forced to the side-lines by an injury sustained in a tackle during a Signal 1derers game in August 2014.
A catch-up revealed he no longer needs his crutches – but, in terms of regaining his confidence, it’s very early days indeed.
In May, surgeons cut a section off his hamstring and used that to replace two of the cruciate ligaments in his knee.
So he can do run-of-the-mill stuff which we mostly take for granted like using the stairs and walking the dog. He continues his “rehab” with twice-weekly physio sessions, and yes, he can now run and use the leg press at the gym.
So, I asked, were they ever times he thought things would never return to normal?
Jonty replied: “Well that’s the thing, to be fair I don’t think it ever will. In reality it’s always going to be that thing at the back of your mind…
“With playing football I’m unsure of whether or not I’ll really play again if not for a few months minimum at least. But I’ll never have a normal attitude to sport and running about.
“I’m always now going to be wary that it’s going to give way – and that it’s going to snap, essentially.”
And he knows he’s in good company.
“I ‘spose you get this with a lot of injuries – especially footballers and stuff – if you get a bad tackle and then, if you see that player again, or even walking back on to the pitch, you’re going to be so wary of it.
“And you see, in particular with footballers, that they’re never quite the player they were.”
However, he’s still involved with his passion via his work at Signal.
“When people who don’t quite make it as footballers (go into) radio and TV and media, I mean some people can go into the coaching and management, that’s the closest thing you can get to it which is quite good and I enjoy my job.
“I do miss football – in particular the big charity games that we get invited to play in and I can’t play in them, it’s really disheartening, but like I say being close to the sport in my job is something that I enjoy.”
Meanwhile he’s getting light-hearted advice on what exercise he can take from players like Jermaine Jenas – and, as evident in the video below, he’s sufficiently recovered to play Mini Ping Pong with Chris Iwulemo!