The Horror Injury: An inside story

Last updated : 13 February 2008 By Millersmad Staff
In March 2001, Rotherham travelled to Reading for what was a vital promotion game. Although in a 2-0 loss, the performance and result was instantly forgettable for the majority of Rotherham fans it is a day that former midfielder Darren Garner will never forget as he suffered a serious fracture of his leg that would keep him out of the game for 16 months.

Almost seven years later, the Plymouth born man is still playing the game for non league Launceston and is training to be a professional tiler. He tells us exactly what suffering a major injury is like and what Millers youngster Stephen Brogan can expect in the next few months.

The injury and first 24 hours

"I was in their penalty area and I went to shoot. My leg was in mid air and James Harper flew in with a sort of karate kick tackle. I remember being in severe pain at first but it went away for a bit and I didn't think it was broken. I tried to stand on it but I couldn't. It wasn't until I looked down at my leg and saw it at a funny angle that I knew it was broken.

The first 24 hours was full of pain. I went back up to Sheffiled and I was in agony. The whole of my leg was in a pot. I remember thinking 'the world's going to end, I can't walk'. As a footballer you just want to play games and it's not easy.

A few of the players came to see me but James Harper was a big let down. He didn't come and see me or even acknowledge what he'd done. That's my biggest gripe with it all. I'll always hold a grudge with him for that."

The rehab

The rehab was very hard and took lots of dedication. John Bilton who was the fitness coach at the time was immense. Without him I would never have been able to come back. He was great.

It's about letting the leg heal. The temptation is to do something too quickly but it's a slow process for six months. You lose all the power and strength in the leg. All the muscle went, my leg was like a matchstick. It involves setting goals but not silly goals and taking advice from those around you.

Stephen's a young lad at 19. He has the world at his feet, if he remains positive and does good things he'll make a full recovery. He needs to look after himself and not lose the plot and he'll come back a better player. Good luck to the lad, don't give up hope."

"Dont give up hope"- Darren Garner

Missing out on success on the pitch

"I knew I couldn't do anything about it. I had a broken leg it's not like I had a slight strain. You have to be 100% before you can return. But I enjoy watching football so I tried to watch the lads when I could but I was too sore to travel away.

I was still involved with the lads in the dressing room. I was not an outsider. I used to join up and train with them after normal training. I was lucky because I was in the first year of a three year contract. The club were always there for me, the whole club is a good one with good people. Ronnie Moore used to ask me how I was but an injured player is no use to a manager. John Bilton and Denis were fantastic."

Getting back

"The injury didn't affect me at all when I returned. It was 16 months and the fitness programme made me a lot fitter. I chose not to have the leg pinned and let it heal naturally and that made it a lot stronger.

The mental side of it is the biggest part. Getting over the fear factor is very difficult. Once you're on the pitch, having contact in a tackle you're over the worst.

I took football for granted and when I was out I realised how lucky I was. I'm now playing at a low level for a very good friend's team and I am enjoying it. I am playing with a smile on my face. I now know what's important."

Interview by Jonathan Veal