‘I felt my arm snap’ – Former Norwich City and Chelsea goalkeeper Ben Killip speaks out about season ending injury at Hartlepool United
Ben Killip was enjoying the ‘best season’ of his career at Hartlepool United – until injury hit.
The 25-year-old played a key role in Pools’ promotion charge in the National League so far this season, keeping more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper in the division prior to his season ending elbow injury picked up at Boreham Wood three weeks ago.
After initially thinking the injury would only be short-term, scans revealed that Killip had torn the medial ligament in his elbow and suffered a fracture in his radius, ruling him out for 12 weeks.
"The first week or so, I was kind of in denial about the severity of it and it took about 10 days to see the specialist after my MRI scan so until then, I didn’t really agree or believe the specialist when they were telling me I was going to be 12 weeks,” Killip told BBC Radio Tees Sport.
“I convinced myself and everyone else that I’d be back for the play-offs or end of the season whatever it is.
“After the Tuesday game, I drove up to see the specialist on the Wednesday and I was on the phone to Ross [Turnbull] the goalie coach and I was telling him ‘I might be able to play Saturday Ross, it feels good today!’ The next thing I know I’m being told I’m out for three months."
Killip initially played on while injured for around 20-minutes in the 2-2 draw at Boreham Wood before being replaced in goal by striker Rhys Oates.
Discussing the incident, the Pools number one added: “The first thing I thought was Gus [Mafuta] won a header and headed it over the top and I was thinking ‘what are you doing winning headers, you’ve never done that in your life?!’
"Then the ball came over, bounced high and I’ve come out and went to punch it, I’ve kneed Timi [Odusina] in the ribs and [Kabongo] Tshimanga ran into my legs and I remember flipping over the two of them thinking ‘I’m in trouble here’.
"I landed and I felt my arm snap into a hyper-extension way, the opposite way, it felt like it snapped in half. I knew something was really wrong and as you could hear from the screaming that it was quite serious.
"We didn’t have a keeper on the bench so I tried to play on and because my arm went numb and I could feel anything I thought it was going to be okay.
“They had a corner and I heard Luke Garrard their manager shout ‘stick it on Killip, he’s injured’ and I just thought ‘cheers for that one’!
"I knew as soon as I did it it was serious but I just tried to play through it and be the hero but it didn’t work very well. I think Oatesy would have saved the second one so I should have let him on earlier!
"He yanked the gloves off me and my arm was swollen as well while I’m in tears nearly as he’s trying to get the gloves off. He said he really enjoyed it, he was nervous but just gutted he didn’t have a save to make. He said he got a bit bored because we battered them once he went in.”
Killip has now had time to process his injury and has watched on from the sidelines as Pools beat Notts County and Wealdstone to go top of the National League table.
It’s the third serious injury of the goalkeeper’s career after breaking his wrist at Norwich City and suffering ankle ligament damage at Braintree Town.
The Hartlepool stopper believes he’s become better at dealing with injury set-backs but admits that the timing couldn’t have been worse this time around.
“When you get older, you’re more mature so you can look at it in a better way than you can when you’re younger,” he continued.
“When you’re younger it’s hard to accept because you’re not as wise or experienced in the game.
"The part I’ve struggled with most this time is missing the end of the season because it’s such an exciting time for the club and to be involved in as a player, the atmosphere around the whole town and the club is unbelievable at the moment.
"It’s devastating to miss out on that and miss out, hopefully, on the boys getting promoted.
“Knowing I’d played a good chunk of the season up until that point and I was going to miss out on us winning the league or play-offs.
"I’ve never been involved in a promotion push in my career so I’d been talking to friends about how much I’d been looking forward to it so to have that taken away through an uncontrollable such as an injury is devastating and really hard to take.
"There’s nothing I can do, it’s all about supporting the lads but it’s tough to watch the lads playing. You have to support the boys and we’re all trying to achieve the same thing.
"If I’d been offered promotion but not playing the last nine games of the season then I’d have bitten your hand off for it."
Summing up his feelings, Killip concluded: “It’s probably sadness more than anything that I can’t play and test myself in these sort of games.
"I’ve got no anger or resentment because it wasn’t anyone’s fault. I’m proud of what I’ve done this season because it’s probably been my best season in terms of what I’ve done individually.
"I go into rehab knowing I’ve given the best account of myself I could.”