We played Oxford a few days later. We won but I got subbed and as I went off the Sunderland crowd cheered. I couldn’t run, couldn’t do anything rigorous. My knee was tattered – no power, lots of pain. The crowd were on my back all the time.
I had another arthroscope on the Monday but nothing showed up. In desperation, Neil Medcalfe, our new physio, sent me down to Yorkshire to see a Mr Bollen. He prodded and poked and said he wanted to open my knee there and then. Why? I had my retirement forms. I had a job with an Irish newspaper lined up. I was resigned to life after football. But when Mr Bollen said he wanted to get his scalpel busy right then, hope rose irresistibly. OK, once more. Open it up. I’m nothing if not an optimist.