RUGBY: Long-standing Rotherham Titans medic Chris Myers hangs up his medical bag

ROTHERHAM Rugby Club doctor Chris Myers will patrol the touchline, medical bag in hand, for the last time this weekend after 32 years in the job.

Dr Myers, or Doc to his friends, is stepping down to take on a background role with thousands and thousands of miles on the clock, a host of on-pitch “repairs” to his name and a heap of stories to tell.

“Last season one of our players, who shall remain nameless, took a bang on the head and he came in saying he couldn't hear out of his left ear,” recalls Chris.

“I got my otoscope, shone the light into his ear and said 'put your finger in your other ear so the light doesn't shine out.' So, of course, he did.

“He's sat there with his finger in his ear and David Swift (club physio) was in stitches.

“I was able to assure him the ear was fine and it wasn't a problem.”

It’s those sorts of amusing tales that has helped keep the job interesting for Chris all these years.

He was working as a GP in Rotherham when a chance meeting led to him taking on the rugby “gig” back in 1991.

At the surgery he arranged the rota to make sure that on home game weekends he worked Saturday mornings and on away game weekends his partner worked them.

The job of being the team medic had an instant appeal that has endured through good times and bad for the team.

“I've loved every minute of it. It's the camaraderie,” he says.

“In the world of medicine you just get stuck with medical people so it's great meeting so many different people with interesting life stories, some from all over the world.

“Some were journeymen but some were really lovely people, like our old captain Mike Schmid, who was a delightful man.”

On the field Chris has attended to injuries big and small, bloody and minor, on hard tracks in the spring and quagmires in winter.

In between times he's been a familiar sight, patrolling the touchline, ready to spring into action.

“To other people, some injuries might be gruesome but it's just work to us and we switch into work mode and make sure we do the best we can to look after people,” he says.

“We have to attend regular training courses run by the RFU which I have to say are superb. They prepare us for anything, such as this season when the lad from Sedgley Park ended up with his foot hanging the wrong way. We knew how to get him packaged up, on to a stretcher and off the field.

“Don't get me wrong, the job's not as much fun when your boots are starting to leak and you're stood in six inches of mud and the wind is howling, but I've generally loved every minute of it.”

Long away trips are part and parcel of being a team doctor and the journies home can feel especially long after a defeat.

The Doc and the staff don't mind indulging in a bit of black humour to pass away the time.

In a lovely tribute to the Doc in a recent match programme, physio Dave Swift recalls one such incident.

“We were passing through the Blackwell Tunnel on a long and tortuous return journey after our last game of a particularly disappointing season and a disappointing result.

“Martin Jenkinson (director of rugby) was trying to cheer us up and remove the little black cloud of misery hovering over the front end of the team coach where we staff sit.

“He said 'come on, we're not being miserable all the way back. Somebody say something funny.'

“After a prolonged period of silence the Doc said: ‘The kit has held up well!’

“We all burst out laughing and another enjoyable bus ride in the presence of a great bunch of men was enjoyed.”

Chris smiles at the memory.

“I know it's boys club and male humour but it's just been amazing,” he says.

“It's also been nice to give a little bit back into the club. That's something that was needed and I was only too happy to do.

“Results aside, it's still about the people you're with and the people you're looking after but also the backroom staff and the banter and everything like that.

“I have never felt I didn't want to do the job. Yes, there's been trips to Cornwall on a Sunday and coming back at 2 in the morning but, even so, there were the times we had and the fun and games we had.”

Underpinning it all was the very serious job of looking after the welfare of stricken players— either during games or the days in between.

“If I say a player isn't fit, he isn't fit,” says Chris.

“When all new coaches come in, I would always say 'that's my role and if I say that, it goes. If you counteract that then I will be out of here.'

“Thankfully I have never had a coach do that. They might have given me a bit of stick but they have always respected my professionalism.”

This Saturday's match away to Sheffield Tigers marks the end of an era for the Doc who, at 64, is ready to take on a more relaxed role.

“I'll be carrying on in the background but not running on and off with the bag.

“There comes a time when enough's enough.

“To be able to do something for the club and the community, it pleases me. It's been a wonderful journey and a wonderful experience.”

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