Linesman tells of injury agony

Milton Lindsay Luckless linesman Andrew Nurse has relived the freak accident that put him in hospital for a fortnight and brought his season to a premature end. Andrew was running the line for Sprowston Lads U16b at Horsford when two players going for the ball slid off the wet pitch and left him with an injury nightmare.

Milton Lindsay

Luckless linesman Andrew Nurse has relived the freak accident that put him in hospital for a fortnight and brought his season to a premature end.

Andrew was running the line for Sprowston Lads U16b at Horsford when two players going for the ball slid off the wet pitch and left him with an injury nightmare.

He recalled: “On the stroke of half time the ball was heading towards Sprowston's left back and an approaching Horsford forward. Our left back made a tackle which carried both players over the touchline and both collided with me. We all ended up in a heap but both players got up and unfortunately I couldn't.


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“The referee came over and play was held up. Parents watching told him they heard a crack but I didn't.”

Unable to move his left leg, Andrew was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital where he spent 16 days as an in-patient with a broken kneecap, a fractured left tibia plateau and serious ligament damage.

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“I had a bone graft from my back to help them fill the hole inside my left knee which is now in plaster with a knee brace for 12 weeks.”

The 54-year-old, who says he has football in his blood, has been connected to Sprowston Lads FC for the last nine years. For the last five years he has been their faithful linesman - a job he loves and can't wait to get back to.

On Sunday, with the aid of a Zimmerframe he went to watch the team for the first time since last month's accident.

He was given a warm welcome but couldn't spur the side on to victory from his place in the dugout as they lost 3-1 to Norman Wanderers in an Evening News/ Pink Un Norfolk Youth Combination match.

Nevertheless it made him even more hungry for a return to action.

“It is hoped that a full recovery will be possible, although a knee replacement operation will be necessary later on.

“I have had tremendous support from family, friends and all at Sprowston Lads Under 16 and hope it won't be long before I am back in business,” said Andrew.

He said a highlight of his hospital stay was meeting John Wilson - a Norwich City full back in the 1950s, who was also a patient on the Gateley Ward after a knee operation. “We talked shop a lot,” said Andrew, a warehouseman for Concorde Transport Services in Norwich.

Despite his misfortune, Andrew was able to raise a smile when he recalled comments made while he was laying on the ground injured.

“One was that it was the first time I had kept up with the play and the second, from one of the parents, was that it was the highest he had seen me raise my flag in all the time of me being a linesman.”

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