Robert­son calls for tests

● Ca­ley Jags boss wants re­tired play­ers screened for de­men­tia

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - SPORT -

John Robert­son wants Scot­land’s foot­ball bod­ies to con­sider test­ing re­tired play­ers for early symp­toms of de­men­tia af­ter a re­cent shock study linked the dis­ease to head in­juries.

The Ca­ley This­tle man­ager ad­mit­ted he was “a bit of scared of what lies ahead” as he re­called of­ten play­ing through bouts of con­cus­sion in his own freescor­ing ca­reer.

The Hearts record goalscorer was knocked out cold on the pitch only to play the fol­low­ing week on more than a few oc­ca­sions.

Robert­son’s call comes af­ter a Glas­gow brain in­jury re­search group’s ground-break­ing 18-month study iden­ti­fied a clear link be­tween head­ing the ball, de­men­tia and other killer dis­eases.

It found foot­ballers were five times more likely to get Alzheimer’s dis­ease, four times more likely to de­velop Mo­tor Neu­rone Dis­ease and twice as likely to get Parkin­son’s.

The Scot­tish Youth Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion yes­ter­day is­sued fresh ad­vice to its mem­ber clubs, rec­om­mend­ing that head­ing was re­moved from all train­ing drills and elim­i­nated, where pos­si­ble, from matches.

Eng­land’s Premier League will also in­ves­ti­gate a ban at academy level, while Bournemout­h have al­ready stopped its youth team from head­ing the ball.

The Scot­tish Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion is also prob­ing the is­sue, with Robert­son keen for them to take de­ci­sive ac­tion.

The Ca­ley This­tle man­ager said: “With­out ob­vi­ously fully know­ing the med­i­cal as­pect, I can see how in young chil­dren in par­tic­u­lar their heads and mem­branes around the brain are still quite soft.

“Go­ing be­yond that, the de­men­tia sur­vey that came out is quite dis­turb­ing.

“I think I saw that three-and-a-half times more foot­ballers are get­ting de­men­tia than the av­er­age pop­u­la­tion.

“I was knocked out, what six, seven or eight times? And then I would play the fol­low­ing week.

“You worry if that’s go­ing to have an ef­fect. The balls, while they weren’t as heavy as the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s, were still very heavy.

“It is more the con­cus­sion as­pect I worry about be­cause I played on in games when, look­ing back, I was prob­a­bly con­cussed or semi­con­cussed.

“It is some­thing we have to look at, at all lev­els.”

Robert­son feels the SFA, or the Pro­fes­sional Foot­ballers’ As­so­ci­a­tion should take the lead.

But he stressed: “I haven’t had checks. I’d hope the PFA or SFA would have a look at that and come up with some kind of test­ing.

“In Amer­i­can Foot­ball, the na­tional body got ex­perts in to check play­ers out.

“It would be nice if the SFA did that.

“Fail­ing that they could at least in­struct us to go and see our own GPs.”

AC­TION STA­TIONS: Ca­ley This­tle boss John Robert­son hopes the SFA or the PFA can take charge of the is­sue

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