A BROKEN leg suffered in 2011 has healed so well that an anecdote is all that remains.
It seems possible that it has been aired a few times after Alan Tate made his return to fitness, given that the Swansea City defender yesterday arrived on loan at his third club since the cast came off and the boots came back on. The 31-year-old has agreed a temporary move to Aberdeen and can be expected to take little time to settle in as he become so used to fresh challenges.
The leg break suffered during a round of golf in 2011 would put the brakes on his Swansea career, if not the buggy which crushed the limb against a tree. Tate has since spent time on loan at Leeds United, Yeovil Town and now Pittodrie in an effort to kickstart his career - even if he might not have expected to begin 2014 by taking his place on the bench away to Kilmarnock tomorrow. The opportunity to join Aberdeen's push for a European place is one that he has grasped greedily, though.
Loading article content
The towering defender - a former Manchester United youngster alongside John Rankin, the Dundee United midfielder, and Darren Fletcher, the Scotland captain, who is still at Old Trafford - will remain at Pittodrie until the end of the season and is content to be battling for competitive action following his fall from favour at the Liberty Stadium.
Things had been going well for the Durham-born player, too, until he came between a buggy and a tree. "That incident at Swansea was just bad luck," said Tate yesterday. "We had just come up to the Barclays Premier League and I played the first game and in the League Cup, and it went well.
"It was the international break and the players went for a game of golf in the morning and we were going to go out together at night. I was in the buggy with my mate and, when I turned the buggy to go towards his ball, it spun and we found ourselves heading straight for a tree. We had no option but to jump out but I got caught between the buggy and the tree and snapped my leg. I get no problems from it now, thankfully, but it was a worry at the time."
His arrival has also eased a few concerns at Pittodrie since Michael Hector has returned to Reading after a loan spell, while defenders Andrew Considine and Clark Robertson have both suffered injuries. Aberdeen have shown a stern resolve at the back this season and the addition of Tate will act as another girder.
It also brings to fruition the work of Derek McInnes, who first began tracking the defender while the now Aberdeen manager was in charge of Bristol City. "Derek McInnes sold the club to me with his idea on how he wanted to play," added Tate, due a testimonial by Swansea before his contract there expires next year. "For the last 10 days I've been waiting for the window to open so I could come to Aberdeen."
The opening of the window might also prompt an admiring club to consider a move for Kilmarnock's Kris Boyd, with the striker having scored 12 goals for the club this season. However, Chris Johnston, the Rugby Park winger, believes Craig Samson has been just as important a figure during his side's recent good run of form. Allan Johnston's side have moved up to eighth in the SPFL Premiership table ahead of the visit of Aberdeen, following Thursday's 2-1 victory over St Mirren.
Boyd scored the winning goal in that game to take his recent tally to six in six matches but Johnston has highlighted the importance of Samson as well, the goalkeeper having made a string of impressive stops in recent games.
"In the first half against St Mirren, Craig made a couple of great saves," said the winger. "His one from Steven Thompson was outstanding and very important. They would have got a massive lift if they had gone back in front at that stage. But Sammy has been brilliant all season, really.
"He has great quality and that's why he has been in and around the Scotland squad. He is like Boydy in terms of the help he gives to the younger lads. He always gets the lads in the right areas defensively to try and stop balls getting into the box. Boydy does the same in an attacking sense.
"They are definitely two big characters in the dressing room and you have to take your share of stick every day. But it's all just banter and they are great to have in the team. They help us through games and training."
Boyd was in typical form against St Mirren, missing two relatively straightforward chances but recovering to bury a late chance to seal the victory. Johnston is getting used to that now. "It's just Boydy, isn't it? But he came up with the winner right at the end," he added. 'When I saw him going through in the last minute, I knew it would be goal. He could possibly be the difference for our top six hopes."