by Stuart Moriarty-Patten
Wayne Rooney’s injury on the weekend against Fulham demonstrates that football can be a dangerous sport when the boots are flying in. Yet there are many other ways you can collect an injury as this list of ten things that have caused injury, and tragically even death, shows:
The then Estonian and Derby keeper Mart Poom was playing as a forward against an Iron Maiden side in a charity game in Tallinn when he collided with one of the heavy metal stars and not only suffered concussion, but also injured his penis. He was out of action for a couple of weeks after.
Having had a hand grenade thrown at him by Millwall fans in 1965, Brentford keeper Chic Brodie probably though he had seen it all, until his league career was bought to an end by a dog that strayed on the pitch in Colchester in 1970. The dog chased a hopeful punt forward towards the Brentford goal and not only collided with Brodie but shattered his kneecap. Brodie did resume his career a year later outside the Football League with Margate and was their keeper when they received an 11-0 thrashing by Bournemouth in that season’s FA Cup.
For some reason goalkeeper’s feature heavily in this list and Man United’s keeper Alex Stepney is another who found a different way to injure himself on the pitch. In 1975 in a game against Birmingham City he opened his mouth so wide while shouting instructions to his defence that he dislocated his jaw and had to leave the field in agony.
This is another animal related injury involving a goalkeeper. In 2004 during the first half in a game at Scunthorpe, Rochdale keeper Neil Edwards went to remove a goose that had landed on the pitch. Unfortunately for Edwards the goose bit him and the game was held up for several minutes while he received treatment. Edwards recovered enough to make several fine saves and win the man of the match award.
Of course you don’t always escape an encounter with wild animals as lightly as Neil Edwards did. Mistar a 25-year-old Indonesian footballer was sadly trampled to death when his team’s training pitch was invaded by a stampede of wild pigs in1995.
Not all accidents involve animals or goalkeepers. In 1967 Midland Combination club Highgate were playing Enfield in the quarter-finals of the FA Amateur Cup when a thunderstorm started and a lightning strike hit one of the players. The player, Tony Allden, later died in hospital. Such was the sympathy for him that the replay of the abandoned game had to be transferred to nearby Villa Park, where a stunning crowd of 31,000 turned up to pay their respects. To commemorate him Highgate donated a cup to the league, the Tony Allden Memorial cup, which is still played for today by the Combination league champions and the cup winners. Earlier this year the club released a book about the incident to raise funds for a memorial plaque.
A quite often quoted story involves a 15 year old Romanian footballer who, in 1999, during the warm up kick about with his team mates from Nirajul Miercurea-Nir, had the misfortune to be standing under the crossbar when the shoddily constructed goal collapsed. The blow he received on his head from the crossbar unfortunately took his young life.
Another sad story involving an Eastern European youngster took place in a Croation first division match in 2008. The 24 year old Hrvoje Custic of Zadar who had played seven times for the Croatian under-21 team, collided with a concrete wall in front of a stand surrounding the pitch following a tackle with an opposing HNK Cibalia player. Tragically the head injuries he received in the collision led to him dying later in hospital. There is a tribute webpage to him at http://www.respectance.com/HrvojeCustic/.
The pitch markings
Returning to goalkeepers to finish off, the last thing you would ever think of injuring you on a football pitch would be something as simple as the whitewash used to mark it out. However, in 1998 the ex-Luton and Man City keeper Andy Dibble was hospitalised by the severe burns he received from the line markings on the pitch while playing for Barry Town against Carmarthen. Apparently the ground staff from the Carmarthen council who maintained the pitch had incorrectly mixed the lime that was for pitch markings, leaving Dibble with a four inch wide burn from his shoulder to his hip that required a two week stay in hospital and a number of skin grafts.
So Wayne if you’re out there feeling sorry for yourself remember you haven’t been killed, a goose hasn’t bitten you, and you haven’t broke your penis like Martin Poom. On the whole it could have been a whole lot worse.