Recently I went to see the Staffordshire Vase Final between Hanley Town and Audley at the Lyme Valley Stadium. It was interesting to see a number of players with their knees covered by a support. Obviously they had weaknesses with their anatomy or they were protecting an injury.
It made me think back to the professional game around 50 years ago when players made light of their injuries and bandages around knees and wrists became a common feature in matches.
Don Whiston, a Stoke City striker who converted to full-back in the early 50's had a knee injury and was ruled unfit for a reserve team game. However, there was a selection problem with the first team who were in the First Division (now the Premiership) and he was told he had to play. So Don hobbled out with a strapped-up knee!
Perhaps one of the most intriguing injuries involved the Stoke City goalkeeper Dennis Herod. The Potters travelled to Aston Villa in February 1952, and 40,000 fans were packed into Villa Park.
Stoke went two up in the first half-hour but Herod sustained an injury which turned out to be a broken arm when the Villa notched their first goal before the break.
Although he tried to carry on in goal he had to give way to outfield colleague Sammy Smythe. Dennis was packed out onto the left wing, and five minutes into the second-half rifled in City's third goal! Villa added a consolation second late in the game but Herod was the hero! No substitutes were allowed in those days so Dennis was obliged to stay on the pitch for 'nuisance value'.
He made sure that he gave good value!
What a difference compared with today! The modern-day player has all the benefits that sport science has to offer. Not the trainer of the past but a physiotherapist for the body, a fitness coach for the muscles, a speed coach to improve mobility and a dietician to monitor food and drink. Players can languish in the lap of luxury.
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