Footballer who suffered horrific injuries playing at Gainsborough Sports Centre concerned changes have not been made

David Gibson before his accident

David Gibson before his accident

An Ipswich footballer who suffered horrific face injuries during a match one year ago has questioned the safety of the pitch where the incident happened.

The extent of the injuries suffered by David Gibson - fractures to his nose, skull and both eye sock

The extent of the injuries suffered by David Gibson - fractures to his nose, skull and both eye sockets - Credit: Archant

David Gibson, now 29, was playing for Felixstowe Harpers against Ipswich Valley Rangers at Gainsborough Sports Centre in March last year when he stumbled following a tackle and hit his face on a post by the side of the pitch.

The freak accident left him with a fractured skull and eye sockets, swelling and deep cuts on his face, and required dozens of visits to hospital over the last year.

Speaking about his ordeal, Mr Gibson said: “I had some surgery on my jaw and they fixed my teeth.

“My jaw had to be wired shut for five weeks and I was unable to eat solids for three of those.

“The main thing is the double vision – I had many appointments at the eye hospital up to February, so I have just had surgery to correct it.

“It’s been quite difficult, not being able to do all the stuff you take for granted.”

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While he is now able to put the last 12 months behind him, the accident left Mr Gibson and fiancee Carleen Steggles, daughter of former Ipswich Town defender Kevin, with a difficult year overcoming his injuries.

Fencing at Gainsborough Sports Centre football ground.

Fencing at Gainsborough Sports Centre football ground. - Credit: Su Anderson

“It has been difficult for my partner more than anything – she is the one that’s had to put up with me, and been nursing me at the real bad times, and see me go through surgery,” he said.

“What she has gone through is the big thing for me. I have been down at times and I look and see certain young kids who get really ill and makes me think don’t be stupid.”

Despite the dramatic injuries he faced, the fence posts at Gainsborough Sports Centre have not changed, leaving Mr Gibson and Mr Steggles questioning whether the same thing could happen again.

“It’s concerning, I know kids play on there,” Mr Gibson said. “I was lucky where I took the impact as I was fully grown, but if it was a kid [it could have been a lot more serious].”

Mr Steggles added: “It’s unlikely that type of accident will happen again, but to me nothing has changed from when David had his accident.”

While the fence runs around the edge of the pitch indicating where spectators can stand does conform to Football Association guidelines, Mr Steggles has questioned why the fence is there at all given that most pitches have temporary plastic fencing erected for games, prompting the veteran Town star to call for the corners to be rounded off to improve safety.

“A lot of grounds have those [plastic fences], and it’s nothing an outline or temporary fence couldn’t deal with. If it can happen once it can happen again,” he said.

David Gibson suffered his injuries while playing on the Gainsborough Sports Centre football pitchs.

David Gibson suffered his injuries while playing on the Gainsborough Sports Centre football pitchs. - Credit: Gregg Brown

The situation has left Mr Gibson unable to play for the entire year, with the enthusiastic Harpers star set to attempt training once again this summer.

“Ipswich Valley Rangers were absolutely superb treating me at the pitch and I want to say a massive thank you to the doctors, surgeons and nurses at Ipswich Hospital for the treatment I have received.”

Mr Gibson is now preparing for his wedding to Carleen in June, having proposed to her two days after his accident.

“That put things into perspective,” he added. “I saw what that had done to her, and she has been unbelievable.”