Running back onto the field was a no-brainer for Bears goalie Stuart Plant

Not even temporary paralysis was going to keep goalkeeper Stuart Plant away from soccer this season running out with the Weston Bears nearly three weeks ago after a horrific injury back in April.

The 30-year-old Englishman was struck in the back of the neck when he collided with a Broadmeadow Magic player trying to smother a low cross in their round eight Northern NSW NPL game on April 29.

Stuart lost all feeling and movement in his body.

Play was stopped and the game ended up being abandoned 25 minutes later while emergency services made their way to Magic Park.

Stuart was taken to the John Hunter Hospital.

“In the second half we came out and I just went for a ball and there was a collision going for the ball and next thing you know I lost all of my feeling and sensation in my whole body and pins and needles, hyperventilating, my body went into shock and I couldn’t feel anything,” said Stuart.

“That night I was in there and they were doing all of the tests and they didn’t really know what was going on and I had to have an MRI, CT, x-rays. They dragged the neurologist in and he kind of told me you know mate you don’t know how lucky you are, I’ve seen people have a lot less of an accident and a lot less injuries and they come off a lot worse than you are.

“They were quite worried.

“That’s when you start counting your blessings a little bit after that,” he said.

“I’ve recovered pretty well now, it was a long slow process, a long process dealing with a lot of physios and doctors and pain killers but we’re hopefully on the finish line now and on the end of the injury.”

Stuart said it took some weeks, but he played a couple of games in the reserve grade before he finally got the call he was waiting for.

“When I spoke to Richo, the manager, he said just take your time, we’ll play you in the reserves for a bit and we’ll get you back going that way. I was quite lucky with that because obviously playing with a lot of younger lads the game was a lot quicker and that kind of helped me, I was buzzing but at the same time I was a little bit nervous,” he said.

“But once I got the call to go back into the first grade that’s when it all changed and I had those pre-game nerves again. At 30 years old I didn’t know you could still get them!”

Stuart originally came down under to play for Singleton’s Northern NSW NPL side for a year, but eight years later he’s still living in the Hunter Valley.

“I came out with a suitcase as an import for a year and ended up staying for three playing for Singo which I was quite lucky, it’s a top club to play for and they obviously helped me out a hell of a lot to get my Australian life started.”

The Englishman went to play for Charlestown Azzurri for a couple of months after Singleton which is around the time he met his partner. After that he took up the goalie position at Lake Macquarie for three years before he got the call from Weston to go and play with them.

“Nearly eight years later I’m still here living in Singleton… but it’s funny how life works out that way.”

The Weston Bears are sitting in eighth position on the Northern NSW NPL ladder with just one game to go this season against Hamilton on September 4.

Stuart said it is disappointing they’re missing out on finals considering the great start they had.

“Hopefully with a new coach coming in next year it might revitalise the club again and get Weston back to where they should be and that’s in finals football.”

On whether or not he wants to play next season, the answer was really a no-brainer from Stuart.

“If they’ll have me! Obviously I want to keep going until I can’t and my body says stop. I’ve played too long now to just give up and stop.”


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