Jack the Lad: When football hurts

31st January 2018

Loyal Swans fan and website columnist Jack the Lad explains why football can be a dangerous game.

There has been much discussion recently about football being in danger of becoming a non-contact sport.

With the debate over the Video Assistant Referee system placing more scrutiny on what is and isn’t legitimate contact, some fear football may lose its old fashioned physical nature.

But Swans defender Federico Fernandez would probably argue there is still plenty of physical contact in the game – intentional or otherwise – especially after the injury he suffered celebrating Alfie Mawson’s winner against Liverpool last week.

When Fernandez ran to the touchline to change his bloodied shirt and shorts in the wake of the goal, fans assumed he had suffered a cut challenging for the ball in the build-up to the Swans going ahead.

But TV replays showed the popular Swans defender suffered a whack on the hooter from his goalscoring central defensive colleague as they celebrated the decisive strike.

Fernandez explained afterwards: “I did it celebrating the goal, I think it was Jordan (Ayew) who jumped behind me and Alfie’s head was a little bit too close to me and I hit him. It’s not something you want to hit too hard!

“It hurts a bit after the stitches, it’s not too bad but it will probably hurt more over the next couple of days.

“But it does not hurt when you win.”

Tuesday night’s Swans opponents, Arsenal, know all about the hazards of overzealous goal celebrations.

When Steve Morrow put Arsenal in front against Sheffield Wednesday during the 1993 League Cup final against at Wembley, the Gunners player was on top of the world.

But he soon came crashing down to earth – literally.

Arsenal held on to win, but the pitch celebrations after the match were cut short for Morrow when his team-mate Tony Adams tried to lift the goal hero onto his shoulders and promptly dropped him, resulting in a broken arm for the midfielder.

At the time, Morrow probably didn’t agree with Fernandez’s belief in the painkilling properties of winning.

The unfortunate player missed out on picking up his winners’ medal as he was taken to hospital.

Morrow said: “I look back on the game and I remember the positive aspects, the winning goal, getting the winners' medal from it eventually, but it was just a bizarre incident and a painful one at the time. I could tell there was something badly wrong.

“Tony, bless him, saw my arm was in a very unnatural position and went to lift it and put it back. The doctor stopped him, thankfully! I believe it's a quiz question these days – because it's such an unusual incident.”

Morrow’s woe was compounded by the fact that Arsenal went on to repeat their win in the FA Cup final, also against Sheffield Wednesday. But he missed out on the chance to play in a second final due to the freak injury suffered at the same venue a couple of months before.

At least Fernandez and Morrow suffered their unusual injuries on the pitch.

There have been plenty who have been left sidelined by off-the-field mishaps.

Perhaps one of the best known is the story of former Wimbledon and Chelsea star Dave Beasant who, like many keepers, overestimated his ability with his feet after his hands had let him down.

Beasant was at home in his kitchen when his normally safe handling betrayed him and he let a bottle of salad cream fall from his grasp.

Instinctively, the keeper tried to ‘control’ the falling bottle with his foot, but his touch was a little on the heavy side. The bottle broke and severed a tendon in his big toe, meaning Chelsea had to start the 1993-94 season without their first-choice keeper.

So players beware, even if the modern day professional game is becoming a little less physical, there are still plenty of perils to look out for – on and off the pitch!

C'mon you Swans!