King’s Lynn Town FC manager Gary Setchell has hailed club physio Phil Ward as the best signing he has made at The Walks.
The quick-thinking medic’s actions were commended by Setchell after a sickening incident during Tuesday night’s League Cup clash at St Ives.
During the tie at Westwood Road, young defender Matty Castellan was knocked unconscious after contesting a header and was rushed to Hinchingbrooke Hospital with a serious head injury.
Ward, with the help of other medical experts on the scene, attended to the stricken 21-year-old until an ambulance arrived on the scene a few minutes later.
Setchell said: “Phil has arguably been my best signing since I came to this football club and it’s scary to think what might have happened had he not been around.
“He is top-drawer in my eyes and he could easily be a physio in the Football League.”
“I can’t praise the efforts of Phil, supporter Paul Hampson (a volunteer helper with SOS) and the help of officials from St Ives Town Football Club enough.
“They helped Matty in what was a very serious situation.”
Setchell described Castellan’s injury as the worst he has seen in 30 years of football.
“Their lad has caught Matty under the chin and there was a horrible noise. I think he was knocked out even before he hit the ground,” said Setchell.
“Both Dan (Quigley) and Sam (Gaughran) could see that he was in trouble and were aware within seconds that he needed help.
“It was very distressing to see. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen in 30 years of football and our thoughts go with Matty and his family.”
At one point it looked as though the game, which the Linnets eventually lost 6-5 on penalties following a goalless draw, would be abandoned.
But after a lengthy stoppage of some 40 minutes he was taken to hospital by ambulance and both clubs decided to play out the remainder of the game.
Setchell added: “The referee checked with both sets of players and to be fair St Ives left it with us whether we wanted to continue.
“The players were keen to carry on as there was little we could do after Matty was taken to hospital.
“As a group we made the decision to continue but as soon as we left the pitch our primary concern was Matty.”
Yesterday, Setchell took to Twitter to say: “Just visited Matty in hospital, he hopefully will be home in next 24 hours, battered and bruised but out of danger.”
Castellan, whose family have asked for privacy while the youngster recovers, has been a revelation for the Linnets since arriving at the club from Swaffham Town last season.
He made his debut for The Walks outfit in the 4-2 home victory over Histon last September before penning an 18-month contract in February this year.
“Matty has been great for us since he came to the club,” said Setchell.
“He’s a top lad and one of the nicest guys that you are likely to meet.”
Tomorrow, the Linnets host Cirencester at The Walks but the game is in the back of Setchell’s thoughts.
“If I’m being honest I haven’t even thought about the Cirencester game,” admitted Setchell. “My main concern at this time is that Matty makes a full recovery, but I’m sure my players will do everything to try to win the game to give Matty a lift.”