Bury St Edmunds' Will Affleck marks his return from long lay-off with a try in home victory
There were few smiles after Saturday’s victory as broad as that of Bury St Edmunds winger Will Affleck.
The recently-turned 29-year-old ended an 18-month wait to play in front of the home fans at the Greene King IPA Haberden for the visit of Hinckley with a try in the 40-25 win.
It was a combination of the sport’s Covid-19 lockdown and a serious ankle injury – damaging the ligaments and cartilage as well as chipping a bone – that had kept him out for so long.
“I did it on April the 1st in training,” said one of Bury’s longest-serving players, having joined ahead of the 2015/16 season, the club’s first campaign in the National League set-up.
“I just rolled my ankle and did not think much of it, but I was only able to start training properly again last month.
“Combined with Covid my last game was in March 2020.”
The Watton-based player made his first appearance under head coach Jacob Ford in the previous weekend’s 25-24 reverse at Henley Hawks, before starting Saturday’s game in front of the home faithful.
“To be honest I was pretty nervous as I had almost forgotten what it felt like,” he said.
“Running out was pretty cool as I still think it is the best crowd in the league.
“I wasn’t sure how it would go with my match fitness and sharpness but one area I will never be found wanting in is work-rate.
“I really enjoyed it and I felt pretty good for a fair bit of it.”
Affleck’s big moment came just before the half-hour mark when he took on a great looping pass from Ben Penfold to sprint clear in front of the clubhouse corner to a great noise.
The Wolfpack are without a game this weekend but will be looking to finally claim their first away win when they travel to Cornwall to take on Redruth on November 20.
And Affleck believes there is plenty more to come from the side.
“Despite the result I felt we showed a huge amount at Henley,” he said.
“Eventually we are going to put in a complete performance and it’s exciting that is still to come.”