Dartford striker Andy Pugh has spoken about the horrific injury which has kept him sidelined for the whole season so far.
Pugh suffered a double leg break in a pre-season friendly against Colchester on July 21.
He hasn’t played since and Darts fans are holding a benefit evening for the popular front man on Saturday evening.
Five months on from the injury, Pugh’s memories of the incident remain clear.
He said: “I’d been away the previous week so I went into that game wanting to give it everything I had. I remember flying around the first 10 minutes.
“I thought there was a chance of me nicking the ball off the keeper and he’s cleaned me out. I just remember feeling the bone straight away move out of place and gripping the grass.
“I remember Del (Deren Ibrahim) running up the pitch and he was grabbing my hand and he was in my ear. I don’t remember much else because I was given all the gas.
“When I got to the hospital, my wife and my mum came up and that settled me down. But the next week was tough when I was lying in hospital waiting for the operation.”
Doctors wanted to send Pugh away in a cast but Dartford’s management intervened. They got a specialist to look at his X-ray and it was decided the best course of action, to prolong Pugh’s football career, was to have a pin and screws inserted to ensure the bone fused together again.
“The game was on Saturday and I had the operation the following Sunday,” Pugh said. “There were older people with broken hips so they were more of a priority and I was on the bottom of the list.
“I was waiting every day and it was horrible. I’d gone from the game so I was in my match kit, lying in hospital and I couldn’t move around, so my wife was bringing baby wipes for me to use. I felt disgusting. I had a catheter as well because I couldn’t bring myself to pass urine.
“Not being able to see my kids, that was the hardest thing. My wife didn’t want to bring the kids up to the hospital too much.
“My little girl was just starting to crawl. She wasn’t interested in sitting on the bed with her Dad so that hard. I don’t think my little boy liked seeing me in pain, unable to move much, so he wasn’t too keen.
“I could see they were excited to see me but they didn’t want to hang around long because they didn’t feel comfortable.”
The operation was successful but Pugh’s long road to recovery was only just beginning.
He said: “I was on crutches but if you saw me sitting on the sofa, you wouldn’t have thought there was anything wrong with me – and that’s one of the things that was scaring me. My little boy was running around and he was going to jump on me so I was like ‘whoa!’
“That was hard, being cooped up for that long. I didn’t really move for about six weeks. I was on the sofa all day long, sleeping on the sofa, trying to do my exercises.
“It was the start of the season as well and where all the changes had happened, I was keen to be a big part of it but all of a sudden it gets taken away from you.”
Pugh has been at Princes Park for home games and he thanked joint-managers Jamie Coyle and Adam Flanagan for keeping him involved.
He said: “They’re great guys and they’ve had a lot of time for me. When you have an injury like I’ve had, with new managers, it would be quite easy to be forgotten but they’ve both had a lot of time for me.
“Flans has been on the phone, checking how I am, asking me to come into games and when they’ve had team events, he’s asked me to go so that’s helped me.”
Support from the fans has kept Pugh going too. Tickets for Saturday’s benefit evening are being sold at £10 with all proceeds going to the 29-year-old.
There will be a fully licensed bar, raffle, live entertainment and surprise guests in the Princes Suite from 6pm after Dartford’s home game against Hungerford.
Pugh said: “Bonzo rung me up and I got all choked up on the phone. To know there’s people who want to do it for me, that means the world to me and it’s only pushing me on to want to get back fit as soon as possible.
“When I first did it, the surgeon said six to nine months. Six months takes me to the end of January and that’s a bit too ambitious but I want to play again this season, even if it’s for the last month or so.
“As much as it’s a horrific injury, it’s never once put the thought in my mind of ‘that’s me done’. I think I’ve still got years left in the game and I’ll definitely be back next season.
“If I can keep doing what I’m doing and progressing the way I am, I should be able to get back out there this year.”
Tickets are available from the Champions Bar on Saturday or you can pay on the door.