Football player to sue over tackle

A TOP Suffolk football club is facing a damages claim of more than £50,000 after a promising young player claimed his career was cut short by horrific injuries suffered in a match.

A TOP Suffolk football club is facing a damages claim of more than £50,000 after a promising young player claimed his career was cut short by horrific injuries suffered in a match.

Rob Newman, an emerging prospect at Harwich and Parkeston Football Club, broke his leg in several places as he was tackled in a semi-professional game against Stowmarket Town in March last year. He was in the process of scoring when the incident happened.

The 21-year-old, who spent two years on youth forms at Colchester United, faced every footballer's nightmare when specialists told him he would never be able to play again.

He has now claiming more than £50,000 damages from Stowmarket Town, which last night declined to comment on the claim at such an "early stage".

Mr Newman's injuries were compared to those famously suffered by Coventry City player David Busst during a match with Manchester United.

The attacking Harwich midfielder suffered a multiple break after a challenge by a Stowmarket player at the Suffolk club's Greens Meadow ground.

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Mr Newman, now 22 and living in Ongar, said: "I got caught with a late tackle and it ruined my career. I was on crutches for three months and, even now, I can barely jog on it.

"I was told I would never be able to play again – certainly not at semi-professional level. It came as a shattering blow for me, especially as I was on quite good money at Harwich."

Following the failure to save his football future, the former player, who works as a banker in London, decided to take legal action against Stowmarket Town.

"It was not something I thought about at first, but people kept telling me I should do something about it," he added.

Mr Newman's solicitor, Tim Wixted, said the case against the club rested on whether he could prove the tackle that ended the midfielder's career was "reckless".

"We have got to prove that when the player went in, he could have foreseen the likelihood of causing an injury. If that is the case, the club could be liable to pay Rob damages. It was a very nasty injury that left him with pins and plates in his leg and he will never play at the same level again," he said.

He explained the tackle alone, if it was proved reckless, could result in an award of between £10,000 and £15,000 in damages while the potential loss of earnings from a career in semi-professional football could total as much as £50,000.

"It is early days as yet and we are currently gathering together witness information. Players obviously saw the incident and there was a huge crowd. But I have dealt with three or four of these type of cases and we are quite confident on the evidence we have got," said Mr Wixted.

The lawsuit filed against Stowmarket Town is now in the hands of local Football Association officials, and the club's chairman, Derek Barnard, declined to comment further on the case at this "early stage".

The final goal of Mr Newman's promising career at Harwich secured a 2-0 victory for the Essex outfit against Stowmarket, in the Premier Division of the Jewson League, 10 months ago.

The match was held up for an hour while the player was treated on the field and he underwent a late night operation to pin his leg.

Mr Newman played at youth and reserve level for Colchester United between 1996 and 1998 but joined Harwich after being released. He started the 2000/01 at Isthmian League side Romford but rejoined Harwich in January and suffered the injury scoring his first goal, on his seventh appearance, since his return. In all, he played 61 games for the Shrimpers and scored 10 goals.