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“We’re going to save it you bells…”

Submitted by on June 30, 2017 – 7:35 amNo Comment

Stu head

If the truth be known I think I was in my late teens when It suddenly dawned on me that what I’d taken for granted as a free public service provided for by governments for the benefit of the people, wasn’t a world wide public service similar to our own NHS.

It just hadn’t occurred to me that this was a unique public service set up by the Post War Labour Government to look after its people from cradle to grave. It took my first holiday abroad on my own with my mates to try and get my head round why I’d need travel insurance, I think the conversation went “why did we need that as it’s free isn’t it?” The concept that it wasn’t free just didn’t make sense at all.

From an early age I’d been a regular user of the NHS, once or twice a season as I’d followed in my dad’s footsteps and become a goalkeeper. He always told me “you can’t go in any less than 100% when you dive at a forwards feet, you can’t have fear or you’ll get injured”. Omitting the fact that he’d ended up in Walton Hospital with a fractured skull for doing the exact same thing, he still suffers with epilepsy to this day from that event and the NHS looks after him.

My mum (and latterly Linzi my wife) used to dread the Saturday or Sunday afternoon phone call, they’d know it was the hospital outpatient department as you’d hear the pips first (remember them before we had mobile phones) and who ever had driven me to the out patents had the task of telling them where I was.

You’d be wheeled in on a trolley or pushed in by wheelchair and left in the cubicle with fingers, thumbs or nose pointing the wrong way (thankfully it now points to the left) or blood pouring out of some wound that needed stitches.

You’d hear the nurse approaching and mumbling to herself as she’d pull the screen apart. “You can tell it’s a bloody Saturday afternoon, look at all the the mud on the floor, hello love, goalkeeper or centre back?” “this will hurt a little” before she’d re set your wonky finger.

NHS privatisation

I’m thankful to the NHS for not letting me miss an Eric Cantona goal in the 1995/96 season “you don’t win nothing with kids”, thanks Hansen. Ten days before we played West Ham, away live on a Monday night, I had a local derby against the Cuckoo Club in the local Sunday league. Playing up front was Bob Jones, 6′ 2″ of pure thickness, nice lad but think as fck. As he still fancied himself as a Welsh League player he’d like to prance around the pitch like a pro, he still played on the Saturday, where as we’d given all that shite up to play with your mates on a Sunday for our local pub, The Marine.

On the this occasion the Cuckoo were winning but Bob hadn’t managed to scored, as I’d stopped everything he’d thrown at me, until a penalty was given for a foul on him. It was his birthday and he’d been boasting about getting a birthday hat trick against me leading up to the game. As he put the ball down he was giving the “where shall I put it Stu?” “wherever you want Bob as I’m going to save it you bell”.

As he stepped up to take it he tried to blast it into the bottom corner, but luckily I’d guessed right and dived to my right and held it. I got up and looked at him. He looked back and said “fck off Stu”. I laughed and starting to sing Happy Birthday to him, which all of our team joined in, much to the amusement to most of their team but not Bob.

Anyway roll on a week later and we’re playing the Cuckoo again but this time Bob’s not his usual self more serious and not giving the verbals. Halfway though the first half we have a one on one and he takes the ball around me I managed to get a hand on the ball and knock it towards the edge of the box, as we both try and get the to the ball he back heels me (intentionally) while Im knocking the ball out for a corner.

But as I’m making my way back to the middle of the goal the ref and most of the other players are staring at my leg, “Stu take a look at your leg”, so I look down and there’s a six inch cut where he’d back heeled the top of my leg. The strange thing was that it didn’t hurt and there’s no way I’m going off, plus there wasn’t that much blood (so I thought).

The ref came over and said “son, I think your best going to hospital as I can see your bone”. It was only a this point panic set in, I’d booked on the UWS bus to Upton Park and I could be facing missing my first game in 7 years. I was quickly put into Frank the Wanks car for the 15 minute trip to A&E, where Frank would make the costumrey call (with pips) to Linzi….”Don’t worry Linzi, but…..”

After about 3 hours in A&E with my wound sewn up with 20 plus stitches and a promise to the nurse that I’d rest it for at least a week. (Yeh right, I’ll be in the East End tomorrow night).

The next night dosed up on paracetemol with leg throbbing I watched Eric slide rule an exquisite goal along the goal line that only Eric could do and all the pain was forgotten in the goon as United beat the Little Englanders 1 0.

So as the NHS looked after me time and time again without moaning (bar the mud). We should remember it for what beautiful gift that Post War Labour Government gave us. It needs its own day to celebrate its lovelyness, as without it I’d had not seen that other thing of beauty, an Eric Cantona goal.


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