Those of us on the other side of the microphone like to label them as freak accidents, but that’s exactly what it was for striker Kris Dennis last Wednesday as a bit of routine finishing practice turned into a scene from Band of Brothers.
Bending his run to meet a delivery, he took a tumble which left him with blood pouring out of a gashed shin, and needing staples.
“Robbo was crossing the ball – it was a rubbish ball from him, first of all, and that was why it happened!” he joked. “I thought to myself that I’d go to the back post, but as he was running up I changed my mind and thought, no, I’ll go front post instead.
“I ran that way, slipped, knocked the mannequin, and the base of it went through my shin. I thought I’d broken my leg at first and all I could think was, oh no!
“I looked down and it was just a big, massive, open wound. I really did think my season was done and I was absolutely gutted. The first thing that came into my head was the game on Saturday against Bradford and then Wembley.
“I used some fairly colourful language other than just saying, I’m done, to be honest. I think Greg [Abbott] was one of the first to come over, and the gaffer was there, and they were looking and they were like, ‘oh you’re ok, it’s not too bad’.
“I thought, what, are you sure! Greg was telling me that he’d done it back in the day – that must have been the late 60s for him – and he was like, ‘no, just get it stapled, and call me daft, but you could be alright for the weekend’.
“I was thinking, ‘oh just shut up will you, you’re just trying to make me feel better’. Luckily the doctor had a meeting with the physio at one o’clock on Wednesday, so he brought all of his gear in. He gave me a bit of local anaesthetic and put five or six staples in there, and it’s still going good.”
It has to be said, and as an eyewitness to the incident, it did look bad, to say the least.
“I actually thought I wasn’t going to be able to walk for days, and when I woke up on Thursday morning it was throbbing like mad,” he confirmed. “I thought to myself, wow, I can’t even walk.
“But throughout the day it got easier, and when I came in on Friday morning I just thought, ah well, let’s give it a go, the worst that can happen is that it opens up again. Luckily it held together with a few painkillers and some extra strapping around it.
“It’s just the bruising around it that’s a little bit sore at the moment. It’ll be fine.”
But enough of 24 hours in A&E, what about reaching the League Two play-off final?
“It’s a great achievement, but I think going into the game against Bradford at the weekend we knew what we had to do to get the win,” he commented. “We went in there to hopefully win by more than the one goal but, if not, we were taking it to pens.
“Thankfully we did it in extra time and we didn’t have to do that. We were confident because it was only 1-0 and everyone knows that’s a rubbish scoreline in football.
“Come the end of that first game we had the chances to get back on terms and bring it here all level. We didn’t manage that, but we just knew all week that we were going to win the game. It was about how much we’d win by that we didn’t know. Luckily it was just by the right amount.”
“It was an amazing performance from everyone, especially with the heat, the occasion and everything that was going on around the ground before the game,” he added. “Everyone took it in their stride and it was a good start with the early goal, then we took it into extra time and finished it off.
“It’s everyone’s dream to play at Wembley and there’s no point going if you don’t want to go there to win. That’s our aim for the weekend. We want to go there, win the game, and have a good night afterwards.”
Echoing the words from the post-match team talk, there’s a definite sense of not just going down there to make up the numbers.
“No, definitely not,” he insisted. “There’ll be a big crowd there with Stockport fans and our fans, and it’s just going to be a big weekend and a big occasion.
“Coming here in the car this morning everyone was talking about how exciting it is and we were all talking about what was happening, what we’re going to do and things like that. I think you’ve just got to embrace it and fingers crossed we’re the ones who handle it better.
“It is quite tough to balance the sense of what it is and where it is with the job we need to do, but I think we’re all professional enough to know what to do. It’s just a game of football at the end of the day, just in a bigger stadium than what we’re used to.
“Plus there’s a promotion on the line, so we’ve got to be calm and get on with it. I know the gaffer will have us calm ahead of the game, that’ll start a couple of days before, so we just have to make sure we got there, enjoy it and hope for the best outcome.”
So what will it mean for him to be involved on the big stage?
“It’ll be amazing, considering back on Wednesday I thought my season was done,” he said. “I used to play at Stockport, I still live there - which could be fun if we win - but I’m going there to win no matter what, and to have a good night with the lads.
“Obviously promotion is the ultimate reward for the efforts. We came back on June 20, or whenever it was, so it’s literally nearly a full year that we’ve been in by the time we get to the final.
“We get three weeks off or whatever it is before next season starts so there’s no point having an extra three weeks at the end of this season if we’re not going to win. I’m just dying to win this weekend.”
And has he thought about netting the all-important goal?
“It would be unbelievable, but I don’t care who scores this weekend, as long as we win and get promoted. That’s all that matters.”