Enniskillen footballer Little vows return after freak collision
Footballer Andy Little has vowed he’ll fight his way back to fitness after a freak injury left him with a fractured skull.
Just four weeks after the Enniskillen man was hospitalised with a cracked skull and eye socket, he’s already planning his return to the game.
The 27-year-old has revealed he wasn’t even supposed to be on the pitch at Stirling Albion when a young player on trial accidentally knocked him out cold in a clash of heads.
But the Northern Ireland international hopes this injury ends a run of bad luck after a hamstring injury ended his hopes of a contract with Bradford at the start of the football season.
Andy says the fresh air of Fermanagh and mum Melanie’s home cooking are already working their magic since he came home after nine days in an Edinburgh hospital.
He’s confident that he won’t need any further surgery – the former Rangers player already has titanium plates in his face from a similar incident in a game against Dunfermline at Ibrox four years ago which broke his cheekbone, jaw and eye socket.
The footballer has no memory of the training session on April 11 at Stirling Albion’s Forthbank ground which put him back in hospital but knows that he wasn’t supposed to be playing.
“I was only going to do half a session and decided at the last minute to stay on and play,” says Andy.
“I don’t remember anything from that session which is probably for the best – the last time at Ibrox I was rolling around in agony and throwing up in the ambulance.
“My teammates told me I was out cold for five minutes and they were piling their jumpers on me because I was freezing when I came round. I was crawling about trying to stand up.”
He had to wait 50 minutes for an ambulance to take him to the local Forth Valley hospital before a transfer to Edinburgh’s Western General.
The former Preston player says the first few days there were a blur on painkillers but after an MRI scan he was eventually given the all-clear to come home.
“When my dad came over to Edinburgh I realised it was something serious.
“The last time I had a similar injury it took me about six weeks to recover but I feel this time the recovery has been quicker.”
Big-hearted Andy says he feels sorry for the young player he clashed with. He got the chance to meet up with his teammates yesterday after travelling over for the last game of the season and hopes they will fill in the gap in his memory about the incident.
“He was a triallist on his first day who was due to start that weekend. He felt really bad but these things happen, they just don’t happen that often,” says Andy, brother of Sky presenter Graham Little.
Despite his injuries and the blow to his career plans – Andy had only joined Stirling Albion in February – he says this is probably the best time to be off his feet.
“I’m annoyed that I missed the end of the season but I’m determined to be ready for the start of the next season.
“When something like this happens you could think that’s the end, but I can’t wait to get going again once I’m clear of this.
“After being a full-time player for ten years I had probably let my fitness go a little when I went part time, but I feel like I’ve got the bit between my teeth again.”
Andy signed for Rangers from Ballinamallard United at 17 and stayed with the club for eight years – his highlight was scoring a goal at an Old Firm game against Celtic in 2012 which kept them off the top spot.
He says there were no hard feelings when he was let go. In fact when he damaged his hamstring last year the Rangers physiotherapist worked with him during his recovery, and he’s also been coaching for his former team.
He moved to Preston but was released by them last year. Despite his short time with Stirling Albion he says the club have been hugely supportive since his accident.
“I loved my time there and the manager Dave McKay and the chairman have been brilliant. I’ll see what happens when I recover but if there was an offer I’m open to whatever comes,” says Andy.
He has been advised to rest and says Fermanagh is the best place to recuperate.
“I’d lost 5 kilos in hospital because I just couldn’t eat. I’ve probably put it all back on since I came home to my mum’s cooking.
“Fermanagh seems to be helping me recover quicker than I should be,” says Andy.
“If there is anywhere you’d want to be recovering from an injury this is the place.”