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INTERVIEW: It's good to challenge yourself

Head physio Ross Goodwin on taking up the Carlisle United role

16 October 2020

United’s head physio Ross Goodwin took over his new role in the summer – at a time when the current pandemic meant that life was pretty much on hold for everybody – and he admitted this week that it had been a strange appointment process, given the circumstances.

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“It was very strange,” he told us. “It’s the first time I’ve ever done an interview through Zoom!

“The gaffer phoned me, and we talked for about two hours, and he was one of the main reasons that the club was sold to me.

“I obviously knew about the club before, but the things he said made it somewhere I wanted to be. Yeah, it was a strange process, but thankfully it’s been worthwhile.

“Coming in after Dolly has actually made it easier because he’s someone I know quite well. When I heard Dolly was leaving it was an ideal opportunity for me to come down the road.

“I didn’t think Dolly would ever leave, I think he’s had a mid-life crisis going up there, but it’s been good because it’s a brilliant opportunity. Hopefully I’m here as long as he was.

“He’s been helping me from time to time, but I’ve had 11 years in the job, seven as head physio, and you get your experience through the years. Dolly’s been really good with us, anything that I need I can just give him a phone and he’ll help us out whenever he can.”

Speaking more about making the switch during the Covid-19 crisis, he said: “It made it more difficult at the start.

“Going to any club’s difficult with the new restrictions in place, you’re not really free to do your job properly. You still do as much as you can, but it’s not quite the same.

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“To be fair, the boys and the gaffer are so easy to work with it’s made it a much easier transition coming in. It’s a new challenge. I spoke to the gaffer in lockdown, and the way he set out the club, you can just tell he wants to be successful.

“You want to be part of that. If it was local but wasn’t a team that was progressing, I probably wouldn’t have come. The fact we want to challenge and do something here is a big pull.

“In terms of the lifestyle it makes a massive difference because I’m 20 minutes down the road instead of 1 hour and 40. It’s good to get a change of scenery. There’s 42 clubs in Scotland and I’ve been to 41 of the grounds. Unfortunately I never went to Stirling Albion, but it’s not a big miss.

“The other thing is that there were maybe four overnights a season up there, but what you do here is go on Friday, and you just accept that. It’s a better way of life all round because it’s a good club to work for and you’re getting a bit more family time as well.

“It’s a different setting now. After all that time in Scotland, I’m now dealing with new specialists, new grounds, and sometimes it’s just good to get a change like that.

“It’s slightly different to being up the road. You’re kind of in a little bubble up there. You play everyone four times and you get a bit comfortable in the role. It’s good to challenge yourself every now and then.”

Having started to learn his trade at Annan, his journey has taken him to Queen of the South, and twice to Kilmarnock, with some silverware and success picked up along the way.

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“Winning the League Cup at Killie the first time was a good day,” he commented. “The last two or three years seasons with Steve Clarke at Kilmarnock were great. The way the club was when I first came to what it was when I left, it was like a new club and he was a great manager who was very good at his job.

“The whole squad, everything had stepped up a level. Finishing third behind Rangers and Celtic was a big achievement for Kilmarnock.

“It’s just brilliant being part of picking up a trophy. To be fair, the semi-final was probably a better day than the final. We beat Ayr and Hampden was full, but being part of any success is what it’s all about.

“Once you have a little taste of it you just want to push on and get more. It’s such a massive lift for the club and the community, and that little bit of silverware at the end of the season makes it all worthwhile.”

And speaking about a job role which has changed dramatically over the years, he said: “My priority is the duty of care for the player, even though I do want the club to do well on the pitch. There can be pressure on that, but I have to advise when I think a player shouldn’t be involved, or I wouldn’t be doing my job.

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“Often a player is desperate to play, and the manager really wants him, and basically you have to step in to explain why that shouldn’t be the case. It’s being able to take it and try to help to get your best squad out, but obviously not being stupid at the same time.

“It’s a job where if you think you’ve learned everything then, quite simply, you haven’t. You need to be constantly going on courses because things are changing all the time.

“You need to push yourself educationally and keep up with times because if you’re aiming yourself better you’ll be making the club better as well.

“It’s a physio job but you’re basically a psychologist and everything for the boys. Getting that relationship with the lads, particularly the lads with long-term injuries, is huge.

“You need to know how they are because if you try to push them when they’re not mentally right, you’ll end up turning them and that could end up making them worse, and you definitely don’t want that.”

As for the challenges he has to face, he commented: “You get a few complicated injuries here and there. The biggest challenge is probably the mental side, the long-term boys, you need to know your players.

“Some are good days some are bad days, sometimes you need to give them a wee cuddle, or a day off, some days they might need a wee kick up the backside and you need to push them a bit more.

“Your big ones are probably cruciates, and when you’ve been with someone for eight or nine months and you see them getting back out there, it’s nice. Usually seeing them get the first goal is a good feeling. Just seeing them back, but once they’ve scored, that’s them part of the team again and you know you’ve helped them.”

“As you’re dealing with an injury on the pitch, you don’t really think about what you’re running towards,” he added. “It all comes as second nature. The first thing you want to make sure is that there’s nothing life threatening, and then you start to look at whether or not they need treatment there and then - do they need a stretcher, how serious is it, things like that.

“It’s not until afterwards that you start to think about the situation and that’s when you start to realise what it is you’ve just dealt with.

“Head injuries are the worst. To try to stop the bleeding on the head is difficult anyway, but you need to see as much as you can so that you can assess the wound properly. That’s not always easy when you’re out on a wet and muddy pitch.

“Obviously concussion comes into it as well, and my main aim at any time is to make sure the player is safe. Most of the players just want the bleeding stopped and to get back to playing, so that’s another balancing act to contend with.

“If a player is injured, that’s when your relationship with the fitness coach becomes important. You need to be able to trust someone, that they’re looking after the data in training, they’re not over or under working them, because that’s just as harmful.

“If I need to pass boys on for the rehab side, you need to be able to trust the fitness coach to take over and give them the correct running and ball work, and the strength work, because it’s a big part of getting the player back to where he wants to be.”

Click HERE to watch an interview with Ross Goodwin on iFollow United now.

Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.


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