Former Bury Town, Mildenhall Town and Haverhill Rovers player Ryan Yallop keen to make up for lost time
Those who were part of the Haverhill Rovers side that were thrashed 5-0 at Norwich United on December 7 of last year have probably blanked that afternoon from their memories.
But for Ryan Yallop events that day remain relatively fresh in the memory given that it was the last time he stepped on to a football pitch.
The pain from an adductor injury that had plagued the Lakenheath-based midfielder for the previous couple of seasons had become too much. It needed rectifying, but a diagnosis and treatment took some time.
Prior to the injury Yallop had been full of confidence, bouncing back from being released by Cambridge United at the age of 16 to force his way into the Bury Town starting line-up at Step 4. He also captained Suffolk Under-18s and was named their Player of the Year.
But as the discomfort started to take hold, Yallop moved on from Bury and spent a couple spells at Haverhill Rovers alongside stints with Stowmarket Town and Mildenhall Town.
It eventually all came to a head that afternoon in Norfolk, where the now 21-year-old decided enough was enough.
“It was hurting to run, even kick a ball. I must have looked like the most unfit player on the pitch that day at Norwich,” he said.
“I wasn’t doing the team any favours or myself. I’d been suffering with it for at least two years, maybe even as far back as three.
“I felt like I was flying when I got in the Bury team but I started to struggle with it towards the end there and then at Haverhill and Mildenhall.
“When I was running it felt like I was only at 70 per cent of my pace.
“I’d play on a Saturday then need to visit a physio on the Monday to make sure I could play on the Tuesday night. It just got too much.”
A number of physio appointments, time spent with doctors and a visit to a specialist in Cambridge followed, all of which yielded limited success.
It left Yallop feeling like there was very little light at the end of the tunnel, to the point where he wondered if he’d ever be able to play at a decent standard again.
“It’s been difficult. I’d come home and have nothing to do – no training, no matches,” added the former Ipswich Town trialist.
“I’ve spent the last few months working on a Saturday. I like having the money, but I’d much rather being out playing each weekend.
“When I was at Rovers I couldn’t go to watch the games, I just found it all a bit soul destroying.
“Football had been a massive part of my life and all of a sudden I couldn’t play.
“Instead I was going from physio to physio and feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere. It was a really tough time and you do start to think (if you’ll play again).”
The breakthrough finally came in October of this year when Yallop went under the surgeon’s knife at the Wellington Hospital in London.
The procedure served to release tension in the affected area and while pain will still occasionally linger, things have improved tenfold.
There are still hurdles to overcome, the most notable of which is gaining much needed match fitness after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Nevertheless, Yallop is hoping to get back involved soon after the festive period.
“After Christmas I’d like to get back training and then get some games in before the end of the season,” he said.
“I’ve lost a lot of time over the last couple of years and I want to make up for it.
“It’s been frustrating because before the injury things were going well. I then went from club to club with the injury and that didn’t help.
“Hopefully I can get my fitness back pretty quickly and start playing again.”