On Patrice Muamba / Barnet FC 1989

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Posted 20 Mar 2012 in General

I’m not sure if I feel so concerned and upset about Patrice Muamba because of basic human sympathy, because I was watching the match where he suffered a sudden and unexpected heart attack, or because on some level I consider myself part of the larger football ‘family’ – but concerning and upsetting it certainly has been.

I was watching the game on my secondary monitor while I was using my computer on Saturday afternoon; my attention was only half on it, and I had the volume down as I was listening to an old Showbiz and A.G LP. I half saw Muamba collapse, but didn’t make anything much of it until I glanced back and saw that he was face down, with his arms folded underneath him. Only moments later I saw the obvious distress of the players near him, and moments later the fans themselves, who seemed incredibly quickly to ascertain the seriousness of the situation – unsurprisingly given that Muamba was by this time receiving CPR.

Well, I won’t milk it by describing the whole thing, but suffice it to say that in not far off 30 years of watching football games, it was the worst thing I’ve ever seen. I’m so glad and relieved that his recovery appears to be in progress. Like almost everyone I’ve spoken to, I feared the worst and found that prospect difficult to contemplate.

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When I was about ten or eleven I used to go and watch Barnet FC play every week at the Underhill Stadium behind High Barnet station. In those days a child ticket cost £1.75 and the Bees were on the verge of promotion to the Football League. One week me and my friend Anthony stood by the advertising hoardings at the corner flag at the far end of the pitch. Two players (my memory tells me that Barnet player was Geoff Cooper, but I might be wrong) hurtled towards the flag in pursuit of a loose ball. The pitch was wet and as the opposition player slid in, he went hurtling off the pitch and hit the hoardings hard, right where we stood. We heard a bang and a crack, and him scream. Geoff Cooper, or whichever Barnet player it was, went white.

As we leant forward to crane our necks over the hoardings and see what sort of state the player’s leg was in, the Barnet player turned to us and, very firmly, said ‘Don’t look, boys’.

We turned around and didn’t look again until the player had been removed on a stretcher. I hope he played again.


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  1. Jonathan 20 03 12

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