As I write, the life of Fabrice Muamba hangs in the balance...
Just 23 years-old, the Bolton midfielder collapsed towards the end of the first half of yesterday’s FA Cup tie against Spurs and paramedics spent several minutes trying to resuscitate the stricken player.
The ESPN television coverage was sensitively handled and the commentary by Jon Champion was appropriately understated. Jon grew up in York and I wonder if his mind, as mine did, drifted back to 8th September 1990...
On that day, York City’s David Longhurst suffered a heart attack on the pitch, during as game against Lincoln City and passed away before he reached hospital. I wasn’t at the game... in fact I was playing cricket that afternoon, but I vividly remember hearing the news...
Back at White Hart Lane, the reaction of the players (the picture above left is of Bolton’s Nigel Reo-Coker) and the speed of the medical attention were immediate indications of the seriousness of Muamba’s condition. The concern spread to the stands and the response from fans of both clubs was genuinely emotional. For all that football is capable of inducing incredible passion on the terraces, there are incidents (thankfully very rare) that can instantly bind together those who follow opposing clubs – even if it is sad that it takes something quite so traumatic to bypass club allegiance.
So whilst those on the Tottenham terraces deserve great credit, this morning is all about Fabrice Muamba, born in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), but very definitely an adopted Lancastrian. My thoughts are with the youngster, his family and friends all of whom will be praying for a full recovery... but I am also taking the time to remember David Longhurst... tragic proof that ultimately football is just a game...
All my own work... almost.