I consider myself relatively lucky when I think that, at 29, I’ve never broken a bone. None of my own, at least. I did play a large part in a friend breaking his wrist many years ago but that’s another story.
That being said my life hasn’t been injury free. As well as the dog attack, I’ve given myself permanent scars from a few bad cuts, had my entire foot parked on by the weight of a Holden Commodore, hit my head many times and more.
Perhaps the closest I’ve ever come to what I presume is the next level of pain was only a few years back.
By now you’re probably well aware of my love for football, and you may have even asked me if I’ve ever had the joy of playing it. While I’ve had a few seasons of 6-a-side under my belt, I’d never joined an official outdoor team until some mates came along with the need for a goalkeeper. While I mainly considered myself a central defender, I’d played goalie in the smaller version of the game with some success.
It’s a whole lot easier
To keep the ball outside
When the goal itself
Is only 8 feet wide.
Needless to say, my talent for defence didn’t exactly equate to talent in goals, and my first two games didn’t go very well. I’m used to doing the shouting, not being shouted at, and while I made some good saves I conceded many goals and probably fucked up enough times for my own blooper reel. Yes, the ball bobbled over my feet and went in for an own goal. I was THAT shit.
Then came game three, what would be the final moment in my career. In preparation I’d actually gone to training an hour early that week for some intensive stuff and was pumped. The weather had other ideas.
The heavens had opened
For multiple days
The state of the pitch
Was never appraised
The 6-yard box
Was nothing but slop
If you had tried to run
You’d be brought to a stop
And this was the zone I had the pleasure of standing in. You literally could not stand anywhere near your line without getting stuck, the mud nearly went all the way to the edge of the box in some parts. One of their players broke through the defence and charged toward me.
I came off my line, as you do. He changed the direction of the ball quickly, I tried to move and found myself absolutely stuck to the ground. The bloke pretty much just ran into me – PENATLY! And a yellow card too! There was nothing I could do but walk back to the line, ready to face the first and only penalty I would ever face in my (not very) professional goalkeeping career.
I tried to keep moving
But to the ground, I was stuck
The striker looked cocky
I needed some luck
He ran up to take it
And gave it a pound
It went over the crossbar
And out of the ground
And I was stoked. The conditions meant that none of my hard work was paying off but finally something had gone my way. Less than five minutes later it would all go horribly wrong.
After collecting a through ball with too much on it, I stepped back to deliver a goal kick down to the other end of the park. Unfortunately I gave little thought to conditions and, as I went to aggressively swing my right leg through the ball, it got stuck in the mud. With the angle, and the exertion, my leg finally came out but as it did I felt a massive POP in my right thigh. For a minute or two it was a searing pain that I would equate to being shot in the leg if I knew what being shot in the leg felt like. I think I was in a bit of shock.
I’ve had vertigo
Which just fades out to black
But this searing pain
Put me all out of whack
I’d never seen white pain
’til that very day
But I stayed on the pitch
Because I’m stupid that way
An ultrasound would later reveal an inches-long, bad tear in my Rectus Femoris, the main muscle in your thigh. Those final 20 minutes were certainly uncomfortable, made even more so by the quality of the pitch – but to be honest I had no idea what I’d done to myself.
I couldn’t kick a ball for weeks, and when I finally DID feel confident enough to go down to the park and have a kick 5 or 6 weeks later I almost instantly re-aggravated it. This led to much more rest. It still hurts from time to time, but when it comes to exercising I know the signs now and know when to stop.
As sports injuries go, it’s a pretty funny story that caused a pretty large amount of pain. I was a woeful goalkeeper, I should have just stuck to being a defender. It would be nice to get back out there one day, but I don’t know that I ever will.
Still, at least I can say that I’ve got a 100% record against penalties!