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Johnny Pundit's World Of Football

Johnny Pundit: Sponge Robert Square Britches
Johnny Pundit: Sponge Robert Square Britches
Doctors: pants?
Doctors: pants?
Some holistic medicine, yesterday
Some holistic medicine, yesterday
Funny old thing, Football. For instance, fascinating to see the furore — and I think it has officially been designated a 'furore' — over that Wade Mooney's doctor at Man United. Couldn't help but contrast the approach of doctors at clubs nowadays with what passed for medicine in my day...

Goodness gracious, we didn't have metatarsals then; oh no; if you were lucky, you had an injury to your big toe. It was the era of the magic sponge, of course — a smack across the chops with a waterlogged loofer cured everything up to a major fracture. Men were men. You can't share a hot bath after a game with eleven other fellows without knowing that.
I recall one doctor when I had a spell at Brentford who was a typical club doctor of the time. The Saturday before I'd been waiting to take a corner in the last minute of the game when I spotted a supporter carelessly toss down a lit cigarette before turning to leave. Ever mindful of health and safety — and who's to say I didn't have a premonition thirty years early [We think Johnny may be thinking of Bradford here. Rather than Brentford. Ed] — I rushed over to pick it up. Although if I'm absolutely honest, I couldn't wait to get back to the dressing room for a puff; I'd gone for almost 45 minutes without a Piccadilly or a Black Cat, and I was gasping. Anyway, in my haste to hurdle the barrier and save the stadium from imminent conflagration, I tripped and landed on the hard, unyielding concrete, breaking my leg in the process.
Anyhoo, went to see this quack in his surgery on the following Tuesday for a check-up. He motioned me to a chair without looking up; I manoeuvred my plaster cast carefully into position as I sat. 'What seems to be the trouble?' 'You tell me, Doc.' He recommends two aspirin a day and if I'm not back on the pitch within two months, I'll find myself on the transfer list. That's what passed for patient management in 1954.

I actually went to get a second opinion. Some guy called Dr Felch. Walked in, he asked me to take all my clothes off; seemed a bit rum. Then he grabbed hold of the ol' gobstoppers, rubbed the little fellahs together as if attempting to produce sparks and asked me to cough. Around sixty times, in all. In fact, I've never coughed so much in my life. 'Certainly thorough,' I thought. After that he asked me to bend over, explaining that even though I'd come in with a broken leg, ultimately everything was connected, so he was just going to have a little feel around, and see just how firm my connections were. Nowadays, of course, we'd call it holistic medicine. Again, he really took his time over the examination, and sounded pleasantly surprised about some of his findings. I was, after all, a professional sportsman, and one tries even now to keep in condition. Unlike the other idiot, this doc confirmed I was well on the mend, and I was in fact back on the pitch seven weeks later.
Career change
Curious thing as I left the surgery, though. Stood aside to let some blighter in a white coat brush past and a nurse greeted him with: 'Morning Dr Felch. I hear the traffic was bad this morning?' Presumably he and the guy I'd seen were brothers. Bit unusual, isn't it, two brothers at the same surgery? Like the Jack and Bobby Charlton of the medicine world! Funnily enough, when I went back to see Felch a few weeks later, I got this guy I'd passed at the surgery door instead. I asked after his brother and he gave me a funny look, saying something about him emigrating, and working in the logging trade in Canada. Quite a career change, that; shame medicine lost him, I thought he'd been very impressive. That said, I was in two minds about shaking his hand when I left.

Till next week,

Hit me baby one more time,
Johnny Pundit

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