1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Article on MSE about Darrell Williams

Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by Guest, Oct 18, 2005.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Ratings:
    +0 / 0
    There is a great article about Darrell Williams on MSE today. I didn' know how to set up a link to it so have copied it below (thanks snoz). It would have made a great ex-player profile wheel.

    Hopefully some of our current players might read it and realise that you can play with injury pain.

    When Darrell Williams first made the Kiwi rugby league team, everything looked effortless for the Aucklander.

    A silky smooth runner, he was sound on defence, dangerous on attack and blessed with great anticipation. He played so well against the touring Kangaroos in 1986 that Australian coach Bob Fulton recruited him for his Sydney club Manly-Warringah.

    But there was a problem. Playing for his Mt Albert club side before departing for Sydney, Williams tore cruciate and medial ligaments in his right knee. Those are the fibrous bands of tissue that hold the thigh and shin bones in place and prevent the knee from buckling inward. Williams was advised to have his knee reconstructed, an operation that, in those days, took six months to recover from.

    But, worried his dream of playing for Manly would end before it started, Williams decided against the operation and against telling Manly. Instead, he played with the injuries. Halfway through the season, the pain became so intense he went to see a Sydney orthopaedic surgeon who gave him the same advice he'd been given in Auckland - have the knee reconstructed. But in the next match Williams scored three tries and decided he could get by.

    He did, but developed other problems as a result of favouring his right leg, including a stress fracture in his left shin.

    By the time Manly, eventual winners of the grand final, entered the last two months of the season, he needed up to seven "needles" to get through matches and four to get through training. By this time, his problems were obvious to the club, but, with Manly closing in on the title, Williams was under pressure to keep playing. However, he doesn't blame the club for his subsequent problems.

    "I can't say that pressure got to me because I'd already made up my mind to play," he says.

    Williams eventually had the operation, the first of six on his knees, at the end of the season. But midway through the next season he tore his left knee apart so badly he couldn't play on. He tore the same knee apart again at the end of the 1989 season. His surgeon had planned to insert a synthetic medial ligament in the knee because the original was irreparable, but discovered, after opening it up, that the damage was so bad there was nothing to attach it to. So Williams played the rest of his career without a medial ligament in his left knee.

    It meant he couldn't move sideways because his knee would collapse, a considerable handicap against sidestepping opponents, but Williams was so adept at reading the game he managed to cover up his disability most of the time. What he couldn't cover up, however, was the loss of his own sidestep and pace. It meant he had to reinvent himself as a defensive player.

    Williams continued playing till 1994, but he became progressively more limited in his movement. His career finally came to an end after 98 first-grade games and 21 tests, after he struggled through a three-kilometre pre-season time trial at his second Sydney club, Parramatta. "The coach pulled me aside and these words will always ring in my ear. He said, 'You look like you are in pain', and I was. It just killed me to run on hard ground, and I realised my days of bluffing coaches were over. I never went back again."

    Today, Williams, who is starting a computer company in Sydney after managing a Manly hotel for eight years, is "suffering big time".

    "I can run, but it really hurts and my knees will swell up the next day. I need an operation right now just to clean my knees out because I don't have any cartilage left in my knees. I'm a candidate for knee replacements in another 20 years."

    The pain is not his only regret. He's unhappy that league fans came to think of him as a defensive player, never knowing the handicap he played under.

    It is something he has never previously talked about publicly.

    "Back in my day, it was a manliness sort of thing," he says. "You didn't admit you had injuries, you didn't succumb to injuries. It came down to how much pain you could tolerate and some could obviously tolerate more than others."

    There was also the question of money. "When I first came to Australia, a big emphasis on our payment structure was based on match payments, which meant that if you succumbed to injuries you didn't get your match payments and that made up a lot of your contract. So a lot of players would play with injuries. Whereas these days, because they receive such high sign-on fees, they [players] can afford to miss games and get themselves better properly and miss a few months of football.

    "Every knee injury that I had, I played on with. In hindsight, I can see that was a major mistake and it definitely affected the way I played football and the way I trained and it affects me now at the age of 42."

    Shouldn't his clubs have insisted he have the operations he needed?

    "A lot of it I did in secrecy away from them. I didn't tell them and they didn't want to know.

    "These days they're a lot more sympathetic to players and they know that to get the best out of a player they need to look after him health-wise."

    Williams still takes a measure of satisfaction from the fact he was able to hold down a first-team position, and his Kiwi spot, with injuries that sidelined most of his peers. But the pride is overwhelmed by regret that he did not have the operations when he needed them.

    "It definitely would have prolonged my football career and it would have helped me become a more rounded player. In my youth, I was quite good defensively and on attack, but I had to make up for my knees and that affected my attacking game."
     
  2. Stevie

    Stevie Active Member

    902
    56
    Ratings:
    +60 / 0
    Judging from the Game on The weekend (Vagana's Tackle ) Darrell Williams has More trouble with his Eyes , Than his Knees
     
  3. sharx

    sharx Active Member

    124
    1
    Ratings:
    +1 / 0
    a true manly great!!
    darrell will always be appreciated for his tremendous service to our club.
    best of luck to him!!!!
     
  4. Banjo

    Banjo New Member

    14
    0
    Ratings:
    +0 / 0
    here is the entire article - a long read but a good one

    The after-effects of a career in sport
    17 October 2005
    By NICK VENTER

    When the golden years are over, many top-level sportspeople are left with bodies beaten beyond repair.



    Combative midfielder Grant Turner played 71 matches for the All Whites and scored the most memorable goal in this country's soccer history - the thundering header that ended Australia's hopes of qualifying for the 1982 World Cup finals.

    But today, aged 46, with a titanium ball where his shoulder joint used to be, crook knees and a stomach upset by anti-inflammatory pills, he wishes he'd never tried to become a professional footballer.


    It was a chance John Adshead, the coach who took the All Whites to Spain, says Turner was good enough to take. "He had the strength and the desire and the passion and all that sort of thing within his game. He also had authority. If he was running with the ball, there was no way that you would even think of taking it off him," he says.

    Darrell Williams terrorised opponents on the world's rugby league fields for almost 10 years with his ferocious front-on tackling. Today, at 42, he hurts after playing with his young kids.

    Three and a half years after calling stumps on his cricket career, Dion Nash can still run faster and jump higher than most of his mates and has started playing Aussie Rules football.

    But, at 33, his back is creaky, he gets sciatica and once every couple of months wakes unable to roll over in bed.

    Turner,Williams and Nash are three of the dozens of former sports stars still paying a price for their glory years after retirement.

    It is a price that goes unnoticed by the couch potatoes who deluge talkback radio with complaints that modern players are too soft. But it is a price that most players will end up paying at some point.

    Ligament and muscle injuries heal with time, but damage done to the surface of joints is permanent, says Auckland doctor Chris Hanna who has spent the past few seasons tending to the Warriors rugby league team.

    "Anyone who damages the weightbearing surface of a joint will get secondary osteoarthritis in that joint at some stage in their future. It might be 20 years or 30 years down the track, it may just be that that joint aches when the weather is bad, but it's going to let you know that it's unhappy with something that you did with it."

    The symptoms will sound painfully familiar to many who played sport in their youth, but for the 100-kilogram plus behemoths who make their livings crashing into each other on league and rugby fields, the frequency and severity of injuries is much higher. Dr Hanna says two-thirds of the Warriors require medical attention of some sort after every game and most have suffered injuries that will affect them in the future.

    Ask any sports fan over the age of 35 for their strongest New Zealand soccer memory and chances are it will be the sight of Grant Turner rising on the edge of the Australian penalty box to meet a cross from teammate Duncan Cole with his head, and hammering the ball into the top right-hand corner of the Australian net.

    It was a stunning display of power, timing and technical ability that bears comparison to any header scored by any player, but it was not just the quality of the goal at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1981 that caused it to stick in watchers' minds. It was its significance.

    It ended all Australian hopes of qualifying for the 1982 World Cup finals and convinced a rugby-mad nation that the All Whites were a team worth watching.

    For the 22-year-old Turner the goal was the culmination of years of dedicated training. Born in Wainuiomata, Turner played rugby league as a youngster, but switched to soccer when his family shifted to Petone and set his sights on becoming a professional footballer.

    He got early encouragement when he took the field as a 16-year-old substitute in an exhibition match against English glamour side Tottenham Hottspur in Wellington. The visitors offered him a trial.

    The catch was that Turner had to make his own way to England. He never made it. Soccer players were not paid in his day and he was never able to raise the $3500 he needed to get him, his wife and young daughter to England.

    But Grant Turner kept playing and training and hoping, while his wife, Lyn, worked to support the family.

    For Turner, like the young Wynton Rufer, the World Cup offered a chance to showcase his talents.



    But Turner's World Cup hopes were ended by a training ground accident a few days before the All Whites' first match of the finals against Scotland. While passing the ball he trod in what he thinks was a divot, breaking his talus (ankle bone) and rupturing his Achilles tendon.

    It was the first of a string of crippling injuries.

    Turner returned to the All Whites the next year and went on to play another 47 times for New Zealand, but he was never the same, one injury piling on top of another.

    By the time he retired, after breaking his ankle against Israel in 1988, he had had his left knee reconstructed, his right knee operated on six times, 160 stitches in his right shin, broken his right hand and his right wrist, broken his ribs, had the joint removed from his right shoulder, dislocated his shoulder more than a dozen times, broken his jaw, lost five teeth, broken his nose on several occasions, had countless stitches around his eyes and suffered multiple concussions.

    The worst injury was to his shoulder. It got to the point where it came out of place every time he used his right arm to break a fall. He even dislocated it three years ago when the 1982 All Whites got back together for a reunion and played a team of celebrities.

    Turner has since had a titanium ball inserted where his shoulder joint used to be, but it is still not functioning properly and is causing him pain.

    Now a business manager for a company that supplies chemicals to the ready-mix concrete industry, Turner looks a trim, powerful figure, but he moves gingerly. There is no cartilage in his knees and his thigh and shin bones rub when he walks. To ease the pain, he swallows anti-inflammatory pills daily, a regime that upsets his stomach.

    But the hard man of the soccer field does not want to be portrayed as a sook off it. "The fact is, I've done it," he says.

    "You put up with it, you get on with it and you just go with it."

    Turner bikes in the gym to keep his legs strong and plays the occasional round of golf, though his swing is limited by shoulder problems.

    Many injuries were caused by returning to the playing field too soon after injury, often with cortisone injections to deaden the pain. "The demand to play was overwhelming and I guess the feeling of wanting to play was overwhelming, not to let people down."

    But Turner says he can't blame anyone else for his woes. He always wanted to get back on the field. He didn't want to miss any opportunities.

    Today, he says, if he had his time again, he wouldn't try to earn his living playing soccer. "If I had the opportunity, I would be going to university and attempting to do a degree in marketing.

    "You can't eat footballs and I ate footballs for 10 years, and my family and my personal life suffered because of that. We never had the nice things in life that a lot of people did."

    For those thinking of following in his footsteps, he has firm advice.

    "Listen to your body. If you have got an injury, make sure it's 100 per cent fixed before you go back and play. Stay away from things like cortisone. You can't feel the damage you are doing and it has a detrimental effect on the joint.

    "Go as far as you can in sport, but always bear in mind that you need to have a trade or a degree that you can fall back on. Otherwise you'll end up like me. I put all my ambitions into football. When I finished my career I was injured, had no money and no career."

    ****

    When Darrell Williams first made the Kiwi rugby league team, everything looked effortless for the Aucklander.

    A silky smooth runner, he was sound on defence, dangerous on attack and blessed with great anticipation. He played so well against the touring Kangaroos in 1986 that Australian coach Bob Fulton recruited him for his Sydney club Manly-Warringah.

    But there was a problem. Playing for his Mt Albert club side before departing for Sydney, Williams tore cruciate and medial ligaments in his right knee. Those are the fibrous bands of tissue that hold the thigh and shin bones in place and prevent the knee from buckling inward. Williams was advised to have his knee reconstructed, an operation that, in those days, took six months to recover from.

    But, worried his dream of playing for Manly would end before it started, Williams decided against the operation and against telling Manly. Instead, he played with the injuries. Halfway through the season, the pain became so intense he went to see a Sydney orthopaedic surgeon who gave him the same advice he'd been given in Auckland - have the knee reconstructed. But in the next match Williams scored three tries and decided he could get by.

    He did, but developed other problems as a result of favouring his right leg, including a stress fracture in his left shin.

    By the time Manly, eventual winners of the grand final, entered the last two months of the season, he needed up to seven "needles" to get through matches and four to get through training. By this time, his problems were obvious to the club, but, with Manly closing in on the title, Williams was under pressure to keep playing. However, he doesn't blame the club for his subsequent problems.

    "I can't say that pressure got to me because I'd already made up my mind to play," he says.

    Williams eventually had the operation, the first of six on his knees, at the end of the season. But midway through the next season he tore his left knee apart so badly he couldn't play on. He tore the same knee apart again at the end of the 1989 season. His surgeon had planned to insert a synthetic medial ligament in the knee because the original was irreparable, but discovered, after opening it up, that the damage was so bad there was nothing to attach it to. So Williams played the rest of his career without a medial ligament in his left knee.

    It meant he couldn't move sideways because his knee would collapse, a considerable handicap against sidestepping opponents, but Williams was so adept at reading the game he managed to cover up his disability most of the time. What he couldn't cover up, however, was the loss of his own sidestep and pace. It meant he had to reinvent himself as a defensive player.

    Williams continued playing till 1994, but he became progressively more limited in his movement. His career finally came to an end after 98 first-grade games and 21 tests, after he struggled through a three-kilometre pre-season time trial at his second Sydney club, Parramatta. "The coach pulled me aside and these words will always ring in my ear. He said, 'You look like you are in pain', and I was. It just killed me to run on hard ground, and I realised my days of bluffing coaches were over. I never went back again."

    Today, Williams, who is starting a computer company in Sydney after managing a Manly hotel for eight years, is "suffering big time".

    "I can run, but it really hurts and my knees will swell up the next day. I need an operation right now just to clean my knees out because I don't have any cartilage left in my knees. I'm a candidate for knee replacements in another 20 years."

    The pain is not his only regret. He's unhappy that league fans came to think of him as a defensive player, never knowing the handicap he played under.

    It is something he has never previously talked about publicly.

    "Back in my day, it was a manliness sort of thing," he says. "You didn't admit you had injuries, you didn't succumb to injuries. It came down to how much pain you could tolerate and some could obviously tolerate more than others."

    There was also the question of money. "When I first came to Australia, a big emphasis on our payment structure was based on match payments, which meant that if you succumbed to injuries you didn't get your match payments and that made up a lot of your contract. So a lot of players would play with injuries. Whereas these days, because they receive such high sign-on fees, they [players] can afford to miss games and get themselves better properly and miss a few months of football.

    "Every knee injury that I had, I played on with. In hindsight, I can see that was a major mistake and it definitely affected the way I played football and the way I trained and it affects me now at the age of 42."

    Shouldn't his clubs have insisted he have the operations he needed?

    "A lot of it I did in secrecy away from them. I didn't tell them and they didn't want to know.

    "These days they're a lot more sympathetic to players and they know that to get the best out of a player they need to look after him health-wise."

    Williams still takes a measure of satisfaction from the fact he was able to hold down a first-team position, and his Kiwi spot, with injuries that sidelined most of his peers. But the pride is overwhelmed by regret that he did not have the operations when he needed them.

    "It definitely would have prolonged my football career and it would have helped me become a more rounded player. In my youth, I was quite good defensively and on attack, but I had to make up for my knees and that affected my attacking game."

    ****

    For five glorious, shining days Dion Nash looked like the answer to New Zealand's cricketing prayers. On his first visit to Lords, the home of cricket, he twice ripped through the English top order, jagging the ball back up the famous Lords slope. But, by the time he retired eight years later, in 2002, Nash had become what one cricket writer termed an "honest toiler".

    He was still capable of inspiring his teammates with his do-or-die attitude, but he was so hampered by injury that it had become his role to stop the runs at one end while his teammates attacked at the other.

    Nash got the first of the back injuries that blighted his career while playing for Lords-based English county side Middlesex during the 1995 English season, but he can't trace it to a particular moment or incident.

    "I just started getting sore and it just feels like there's something bulging out in the middle of your back that shouldn't be there," he says. "As you go on, all of a sudden it starts to hurt and then you realise you have got a problem. I played a few games with it before I realised I actually had to stop. It was sort of over-use, but I think it was more over-use plus travel in the sense that you'd bowl 20 overs, then you'd sit in a car for two hours and then you'd eat dinner and get up and do it all again."

    In the following years, Nash was invalided home with stress fractures and other back complaints from three Black Caps tours.

    On a couple of occasions he got back to his best - once in India and once in Australia - but getting match fit took longer and longer and lasted too short a time. Between his first test for New Zealand in 1992 and his last in 2001, the Black Caps played 87 tests. Nash, an automatic selection even when only partially fit, played just 32.

    At times, he managed his rehabilitation well; at others, he came back too soon, but decisions were always made on the best advice, he says. "Every decision I made and every decision that my physios made, we all thought were the best ones at the time and using all the information we had and when they turned out not to be right that just added to the information we had the next time."

    In hindsight, Nash says, he might have benefited from a mentor who'd been through it all before. "It would need to have been someone who just said, 'Look, pull your reins in, look after yourself, keep fitter, stop, don't overdo it, there's always another game, that sort of stuff.'"

    The former Black Cap, who is now marketing his own brand of bottled water through boutique spirits company 42 Below, can't give an up-todate medical bulletin on his long-term health. That"s because he saw more than enough of the medical profession during his career.

    "To be honest I don't care what the doctors or physios think. If I see another doctor or physio in my life I think I'll scream."

    But he has no regrets. "I would play again," he says. "Even knowing what I knew, nothing would put me off it. My injuries actually helped my career in a way. It made me realise how much I wanted it. I wish I had less injuries. I didn't need to learn the lesson so many times. But I know my body now and I got to play some cricket at the top level. It's amazing."

    AdvertisementAdvertisement
     
  5. Dan

    Dan Administrator Staff Member Administrator 2016 Tipping Competitor

    32,371
    3,610
    Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    Ratings:
    +5,468 / 74
    thanks guys, that s top read
     
  6. byso

    byso Well-Known Member

    9,609
    83
    Ratings:
    +83 / 0
    Fair dinkum it makes you wonder if it's worth it.

    We complain about King. Trying to complete a law degree obviously he's smart. When his injury hurts to much he hides.
     

Share This Page