A TALENTED young footballer is hoping to make a speedy recovery after suffering a horrific injury which forced a match to be abandoned.
Matty Gallagher, 14, was playing for Golden Flatts in a local derby clash with Greatham in the Teesside Junior Football Alliance on Sunday when disaster struck as he raced for a loose ball.
The promising right-back fell to the turf in agony after hearing “a crack” and was horrified when he looked at his left leg and realised he had dislocated his kneecap.
Players and coaches from both sides rushed to his aid, and an ambulance was called to ferry him to the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, where it took medics almost four hours to “pop” his knee back into the socket.
St Hild’s pupil Matty, who also plays for the county team as well as his school, said on a scale of one to 10, the pain he experienced was without doubt at the top of the scale.
Matty, who lives in Tintagel Close in the Clavering area of Hartlepool, said: “We had only been playing for four minutes and I was just chasing a ball down with no other players around me.
“I heard the crack so I knew something was wrong. Then when I looked down at my leg, it was obvious what had happened.
“I just panicked, and I could see the other lads on the pitch were taking one look at my leg and walking away.”
Matty was eventually stretchered off after being given morphine on the pitch to try and ease his pain.
His horrified mum Vicky, 40, who was watching the game, said: “It was heartbreaking, I knew when he went down and didn’t get straight back up that something was wrong.
“By the time I got across the pitch to him, the coaches had covered his leg up and were trying to keep him warm.
“It was awful and I could tell by people’s reactions that it was a serious injury.
“It wasn’t until I got in the ambulance that I saw what had happened to his knee.
“The ambulance had to take its time to get to hospital because any bump or jolt could have caused further damage.
“They tried a few times to pop it back into place, but it just wouldn’t go in.
“They decided to give it one last try about 5pm before doing an operation on him, and thankfully it went back into place without the need for an op.”
Vicky, also mum to 17-year-old Sophie and married to 41-year-old Ian, added: “I can’t thank people enough who were there, and the messages we have had since Sunday have been lovely.
“We’ve actually been overwhelmed by it to be honest.
“The coaches from the Greatham team have been in touch as well as his friends from Golden Flatts, and we have had cards and all sorts wishing him well.
“They are rival teams, but a lot of them all play together for the county team so they’re all good mates.”
Chelsea fan Matty expects to return to school next week, and has been told he will be in the knee brace for between four and six weeks before he can start thinking about making a comeback.
He added: “It’s still sore, but I’m pleased it’s over now and once I get this brace off I can get back playing again.
“I’ve set myself a target of Christmas or the New Year,” he added.