Ben Oliver in action for Heacham. Picture: IAN BURT.

As he lay writhing in agony, Ben Oliver knew this was no normal injury.

The brave 28-year-old has taken plenty of knocks over the years as a talented ball-carrying midfielder for the likes of AFC Lynn and Sunday League side Chilvers. But this time the Heacham player knew the effects of another hard, but fair, challenge were going to be much different.

Inset his damaged leg.

“I knew straight away I’d done some serious damage,” said the North Lynn lad about the sickening incident that happened during his side’s 4-3 Offside Trust Premier Cup victory against Mundford on April 3.

“The pain was unreal. After I was carried to the dug-out and took my sock and shinpad off, I knew how bad it was. I was absolutely gutted. I knew I’d be off work and have to have someone look after me.”

The self-employed roofer and cladder had broken the tibia and fibula in his left leg. He’s now recovering at home having had a metal rod inserted through his bone marrow from his knee down to his ankle, which has been pinned.

“I’ve had to go back to hospital as the pain got too much again,” said the father-of-one, who has brought up another little girl as his own from birth.

“The pain comes and goes. It’s worse through the night, it wakes me up nearly every hour. I don’t think I’ve digested it all yet. 

“I think I speak for everyone when I say I couldn’t wait to finally lace my boots up again. It’s the longest I’ve been without competitive football.

“There’s no right time for something like this to happen but while a bit of normality, with lockdown easing, is coming back I’m even more gutted.”

Oliver is likely to be off work for at least four months and is unsure if he will ever be able to play again. Heacham’s early fundraising efforts have raised almost £3,000 to help the injured footballer financially while he’s recuperating.

“The support has been overwhelming, it really does mean the world,” said Oliver.

“It’s heartbreaking that I only got to play one game now football is back but I plan on watching every game when my leg allows it. Local football is huge in Heacham and around the area, we’re our own little community, and I guess that’s why so much has been raised for me. 

“I want to say thank you to each and every person or business who has donated.

“You never really think about the impact a serious injury can have on your friends and family, especially when you’re self-employed. This money means I’m able to pay my bills and continue supporting my children.”


Thanks for the memories Mazza

All things have to come to an end.

Classy finisher: Adam Marriott.

Regardless of how, or why it happens, every player will eventually leave a football club. But few will depart having made the sort of monumental impact Adam Marriott did during his time at King’s Lynn Town.

Mazza, as he is commonly known, scored 65 goals in 99 appearances – a truly ridiculous return. He’s arguably the best finisher the club, old or reformed, has ever seen and his partnership with Michael Gash was as close to perfect as you could get from a front two.

Marriott, who had been furloughed, has joined fellow National League side Eastleigh while also staying in the division, but moving elsewhere, is Kairo Mitchell.

The striker had started to show some real promise for the Linnets but sometimes offers are too good to be turned down. 

That’s certainly the case if the reported £25,000, plus add-ons, was paid by Chesterfield to secure his services as his less historic time at The Walks also drew to a close on Saturday.


‘Clear and obvious’ VAR sucks

The introduction of the Video Assistant Referee to the Premier League was sold as a way to correct ‘clear and obvious’ errors.

Now, video technology is being used all the time and it’s destroying top-level football in England and turning it into a non-contact sport, where offside is also being judged by the length of an armpit hair.

It’s killing the raw passion and excitement and it’s affecting every game and club.

The moment a referee gets told to review a decision on the monitor is the realisation that you know it will be overturned because basically they’ve been told they’ve missed something. 

Edinson Cavani had a great goal chalked off on Sunday because Scott McTominay caught Son Heung-min in the build up with his finger as he tried to fend him off with his arm. It’s the type of movement and impact that happens hundreds of times during a game.

There is meant to be contact in football, it’s not a sport played by robots, and if we’re giving fouls for moments like that then we may as well pick up the ball and take it home.

It’s not football as I’ve enjoyed it and, while calls like that continue to have an impact, the bad will far outweigh the good of the introduction of an official reviewing incidents on a screen. 

I’ve always had a massive love for grassroots football and the non-League scene, VAR is only helping that adoration grow.