Hope it never happens but could your club cope

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IT often takes something like the Fabrice Muamba incident to highlights lots of things and to set you off wondering.

For example, how would your football club have coped with something like that?

From small beginnings: Naseem Hamed last weekend.

From small beginnings: Naseem Hamed last weekend.

We would all hope they would cope and clubs are compelled to have all the necessary medical requirements in place, including the ambulance on standby.

The follow-up story yesterday from the Bolton team doctor, Dr Jonathan Tobin, taking in the ride in the ambulance as they worked on him, was riveting listening.

I suspect there are quite a few stories to tell from many strands of people arising from an incident which left so many shocked.

As as Howard Webb said: “You don’t often see medics trying to save someone’s life in front of 35,000 people.”

Of course, in contrast to the shocked, and in some cases distraught, footballers observing the scene, Howard would have come across this sort of thing previously in his other ‘day job’ in South Yorkshire Police.

Whereas many of Saturday’s onlookers would never have seen CPR performed on heart attack victims before, Howard certainly has.

He will also have attended fatalities, to accident scenes where people have died, but the difference then would be that he was wearing his police uniform and, when getting the call, you know what the possibilities might be.

No doubt Howard’s police training and his natural authority helped during the immediate confusing minutes as the medics rushed on to begin their life-saving work on the Bolton player.

He did eventually start to encourage players to move away but also allowed any who wished to remain close by, to do so as he recognised that as a deeply personal decision.

Howard’s moving words this week about the crowd’s extraordinary response as the doctors worked on Muamba, as if they were “willing” the doctors to help him survive - “they were almost pushing with the doctor” he said - clearly touched a man who has seen plenty in both his respective careers.

When Howard took everyone off the pitch, to gather thoughts and formally speak to both managers, it was pretty obvious what the decision had to be. In fact, some players had virtually indicated they weren’t prepared to go back on.

Naturally, Howard is delighted that Muamba survived... “I’ve reffed him a dozen times and he seems to me a genuinely nice kid who talks to you in a respectful way, who’s friendly and polite,” he said.

“At the pre-match handshake, there’s no head down, he makes eye contact and he’ll say ‘Hello Howard’.

Like all of us, he hopes Fabrice makes the fullest possible recovery.

The picture within today’s column is the most recent one of Naseem Hamed, taken when he was among the whopping 10,000 crowd which cheered on the city’s latest boxing hero, Kell Brook, to victory at the Arena last Saturday.

The pic just happens to coincide with a nice reminder I came across this week of the very earliest, title winning days of Naz the schoolboy when his fighting weight was considerably less than what he tips the scales at today.

In fact, he weighed just 5 stone, ie 32 kilos, according to the little report I saw peeking out of the pages of the Green Un of this March week back in 1987 when researching for that paper’s 25 years ago feature.

It may well have been the first report of a national title for Naz - he was then just turned 13.

It read: “Sheffield schoolboy Naseem Hamed of Hinde House Comprehensive, is the new national schoolboy champion at 32 kilos.

“At Derby today he beat Michael Wright of Kent on points, Hamed boxes for the Unity Centre, Sheffield.”

Small beginnings which got much bigger!