In football, as in war, blood is a call sign.
However, more often than not, the worst of injuries show no signs of crimson at all.
This morning while checking in for my morning news fix, I went cold.
My response physical to a still image of a young man being tackled by three men, his neck position all wrong.
An image, that as a spectator with kin on the professional football field I dreaded and hoped I’d never see.
Not surprisingly, today my heart (and healing prayers) go out to Newcastle Knights back rower, Alex McKinnon and his friends and family.
For sadly, they’re living every sporting family’s nightmare.
I’m not going to repost the news story, nor its imagery here. I saw it once and to be honest, it still haunts me.
When Alex walks out of the hospital I might have a change of heart, and here’s hoping that’s one day soon…
My thoughts are also with Coach Bennett, who is no doubt fighting his own demons this week having taken the rookie with him to the industrial heartland, The Chief famously claimed as ‘My Newcastle’, back in 2013.
I didn’t watch the Newcastle/ Storm game, but I knew something went sadly awry when a friend of mine, John, was vehemently chastising a Storm player for questioning a penalty after ‘the incident’.
You see, my friend John, who I have spoken about here before (and his family) have lived the blood sports nightmare.
He is also the one who pointed out to me that we should also be supporting those members of the Storm involved in the tackle.
Those guys will also no doubt be experiencing moments of guilt around the incident, wondering what they could have done differently…
Sadly, sometimes these ‘incidents’ are simply tragic accidents where ‘fault’ lines are blurred and lives of those involved changed irrevocably because a ‘sorry’ won’t fix a spinal cord.
While we are all more than a little aware of the dangers of the codes of football we treat with religious fervour in this country, none of us ever want to see a young athlete halted in his prime.
My thoughts and prayers are with the McKinnon family and their support network. I hope only good news for all of you throughout the coming weeks and months.
They are now also, thanks to John Tassone, with the Storm players who were involved especially the young McLean.
Fingers crossed for only good news for Alex from hereon in.