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Injured players don't have a leg to stand on . . . and that is the only reason to go off

H AD health issues.

 Robbie Savage was not one for leaving the field of play. Picture: Getty
Robbie Savage was not one for leaving the field of play. Picture: Getty

But have hit back. In the spirit of if life gives you a lemon make lemonade, I have decided that if life gives you a fungal infection, then grow mushrooms.

The family steak dinner thus produced a few quizzical expressions. It produced more but the matter is sub judice. But it was all evidence of my determination not to let life dictate to me, particularly when my shorthand is rusty.

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This ability to endure comes from my life in football. Now, I know, dear reader, that you are as braced as a defender facing a Peter Lorimer free-kick for a mention of blaes pitch and a Mouldmaster.

So here it is: I am part of a generation that demands an apology for facing the dimpled missile as part of a Post-Traumatic Mouldmaster Disorder. And we carry the scars (mine are in a fetching man bag) of the depredations of blaes pitches.

Once I played at Bellarmine on a frozen red ash pitch. I thought our jannie was inspecting the ground when he bent down near the icy shards. It emerged later he was using the frozen remnants of a puddle for a shave.

Now that is hard. My stoicism was further strengthened by the attitude of my father to injury. Once, in his seventies, he decided to have a paddle at Luskentyre beach on Harris which was handy because we were on the island at the time. He removed a sock to reveal a foot the likes I have not seen since Rosemary's Baby. It was my first exposure to a cloven hoof, outside the sports editor's debut at the work's fives.

"I fell off the roof when I was tiling and I gave it a bit of bash," he said. This "bash" would have kept the orthopaedic department at the Royal Infirmary in gainful employment for some years. Instead of attending a doctor, he squashed the bloody mess into a trainer and waited for it to harden. It did.

The reason for this digression into matters medical is that one is fed up with the excuses given by professional footballers for not playing. "I felt my calf," said one, in reference presumably to his close relationship with a baby cow.

"My hammy was tightening up," said another, explaining his departure from the pitch.

Now here's the thing. I have heard hamstrings go ping and the sufferer was merely moved to outside left. Strains, pulls and bruises were no reason not to play fitba'. Indeed, if you pulled out of a match - school, boy's club, amateur - your mates started working on your funeral eulogy.

There were times when Beechwood Park in Stirling - the Maracana of mayhem - resembled a butcher's floor with bits of fitba' player littering the hallowed turf. But nobody came off voluntarily.

I remember big Jimmy going into a tackle and hearing a crack that suggested there was a sniper in the trees.

Jimmy calmly surveyed his lower leg that was at an angle he had last seen in third-year geometry. A piece of bone was also threatening to force a run in his stocking. "I think I might have to come off," he said.

"Aye, you'll not stamp off a broken leg," our resident sage observed as the trainer strolled to the nearest phone box to call an ambulance.

Jimmy, who merely winced as he was placed on a stretcher with a leg that resembled a large question mark, was subsequently forever known as a bit of a malingerer.

However, I think of him whenever I see a player doing that thing when they make circles frantically with their fingers. This is a request, nay an instruction, to coaches that they must be taken off.

My view is that if he has the cerebral activity to contemplate such a gesture and the physical motor powers to complete it, then he must play on.

The true footballer wants to stay on the park. Robbie Savage is so daft he could be the village idiot for Greater Beijing but he is a fitba' man.

He was once taken off with suspected concussion after he could not state how many fingers the physio had raised or name the present prime minister. This was taken as an indication of his befuddlement. Savage, of course, merely cannot count and believes current affairs is a fancy cake.

But I applaud him. He knows the score when it comes staying on the pitch.

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