Being Sports Therapist, the day of preparation before a match is when I am at my busiest. I normally get to the training ground around 8am and start getting the medical travelling kit together.
As a Sports Therapist I am trying to cover for every possible eventuality so we have a comprehensive collection of bandages, dressings and emergency support such as crutches and protective boots. There are a lot of things to remember and it is left to me to make sure everything is packed and ready to load.
Nutrition for the players is very important with the modern scientific approach to sporting performance so we pack plenty of water and energy drinks, usually double the amounts if we have an overnight stay.
We have set meal times and a very structured plan of what can be eaten or drunk at what specific times. Slow release carbohydrates drinks and bananas in the build up to kick off and Jelly Babies and Jaffa cakes at half time, (although the lads always accuse me of eating all the Jelly Babies).
Post match the boys have milk shakes and their meal as soon as possible to replace their lost energy.
All of these things have to be packed before I start preparing the lads for the days training. The players are all individuals with different preparations, some need a lot of TLC and spend a lot of time on the massage couch whilst others seldom bother. There is usually quite a queue for the couch and my magic sports therapist hands and it is always interesting to hear the boys squabbling as to who is next up. We did have a chalk board where the lads would put their initials on the list but it was making me feel like I was a pool table, so we went back to the squabbling.
The time spent on the table varies depending on the area being treated so it could be a quick calves and hamstrings or a back and neck session. The lads are usually glad to climb of the table, whether it is because they don’t have to listen to my poor banter and long stories anymore or that they are relieved the seventeen stone that is pressing on their muscles has finally released them. The new boys find out quickly that I do not do beauty massages!
The lads then go off training and I continue with sorting the equipment, till they come back for more treatments after training.
Stewart Bannister the kit man has a lot of things to load onto the bus so as he is only a skinny little thing, I help him with lifting the heavy stuff. There are a couple of oversize bins that we fill with water to use as ice baths and these are Stews least favourite items as after the match we cannot pack them away till the last player has finished using them.
One of the most unusual and interesting pieces of equipment in my bag is a hammer. When we stay in hotels we ask them to fill our two ice buckets for the match, one is for the dreaded ice baths and the other for ice bags to wrap around injured areas. The hotel ice is always in blocks and we need it crushed for the ice bags. Very often a player will wander into the dressing room to find me on my knees smashing ice in a towel with my hammer. It has raised a few eyebrows although I don’t think I am the first Glasgow boy to go to a football match carrying a hammer???
Recently with the reduction of substitutes allowed on the bench and fewer personnel, I have been acting as a very old Ball boy for Nikki Bull when he is warming up pre match. I was a Ball boy many years ago when I was eleven years old for my local non league football club “Ardeer Thistle”. I was paid the excellent sum of 50 pence and given a hot pie at half time.
37 years later I find myself carrying out the same role (without the 50 pence and hot pie wages).
Nikki can easily launch the ball well over the half way line and I focus my concentration to try and control the ball first time, so that I don’t get the growing sense of disappointment when I realize I am not going to reach it and will have to run 50 or 60 yards to retrieve it. I usually need a wee lie down in the dressing room before the game starts to recover.
After the days training is done and the players are all sorted and off to finish the rest of their day. I leave the training ground and head off back home to Camberley to open up my Sports injury treatment and rehabilitation clinic, where I will work till late in the evening dealing with all manner of people from Sunday morning footballers to Olympic athletes. It makes my day a very long one but I really enjoy my lifestyle.
As a sports therapist, I cover a wide range of injuries and sports although my passion lies with football and I am privileged to be involved in the team.
Professional football environment and in the exceptional set up and staff that Gary Waddock has created behind the scenes. The banter, atmosphere and friendliness at Wycombe Wanderers Football Club are second to none.
I am now off to speak to Steve Hayes about my 50 pence and hot pie?