The physio who stopped running on the pitch

Dave Hadfield meets Dave Fevre, a backroom boy who changed sports and still finds himself going to Wembley
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When Dave Fevre took over as the physiotherapist at Manchester United this season, he had to unlearn the match-day habits of the previous several years.

"I had to stop myself running on to attend to injuries during play," Fevre says. It would have been an entirely understandable mistake, because he was fresh from doing the job with Wigan, the Manchester United of rugby league, a sport in which the man with the sponge and medical kit does not have to wait for a stoppage.

On the weekend that his old club will be at Old Trafford for the Premiership final, Fevre will be at Wembley with his current employers. The big occasions in both sports have become familiar territory to him.

A 34-year-old whose own sport was rugby union - he played hooker for Ashton-on-Mersey - Fevre started his professional involvement in sport through yet another game, helping out Laurie Brown at Lancashire Cricket Club in 1985.

"Then one of my customers mentioned that Leigh Rugby League Club were looking for a physio and I went down there," he says.

"That was actually the best experience of all, because they had very little equipment and I had to build it up from scratch."

Against the opposition of all the First Division physios, Fevre won the Great Britain job in 1990, touring Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, and the following year left Leigh to combine that international role with looking after the assorted aches and pains at Wigan.

"The frustration there, and the reason why I left, was that you didn't have the time available to treat all the players at the club, because it was still only a part-time job."

The Manchester United job, another for which he applied without any serious expectation of getting it, is the full-time sports post that he wanted and is about as far removed from the spartan facilities at Leigh as it is possible to get.

The one similarity, beyond superficial differences like the concentration of football injuries in the lower body, is in the players themselves.

"Injuries in rugby go from head to toe, but footballers are just as tough in their way.

"Rugby players like Andy Platt, Billy McGinty and Mike Gregory have very high pain thresholds, but there are also footballers like Roy Keane and Steve Bruce whose ability to play on through pain and injury makes me wonder whether they've got any nerve-endings, any feeling at all.

"And then, in both sports, you've got players at the opposite end of the scale. But you learn who they are and make allowances accordingly."

The tough and the not-so-tough in both sports play too many games for the long-term good of their bodies, he feels. "By this stage of the season, most players are playing with injuries."

And when he sees Mark Hughes or Ryan Giggs hit the turf clutching an ankle at Old Trafford or Wembley does he still feel instinctively that he should be dashing out there while play goes on around him?

"I don't like the system where the referee has to make a decision on an injury before he stops the play.

"But, if we were allowed on during the match, we would probably finish up carrying on messages, and we have enough to do without that."

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