Martyn Newey says he is looking forward to watching games “as a fan again” after stepping down as the Leicester Tigers matchday doctor at the end of the season.
An orthopaedic surgeon in his day job, Martyn and his distinctive flat cap have been familiar sights at Tigers matches over the last 20 years, initially with the academy, then A League, and more and more with the first-team from 2006/07.
His last match was the win at Wasps on the last day of the season, with players making a presentation as a gesture of thanks before Martyn joined them on their post-match lap of the pitch to acknowledge the supporters.
“I first did some work with the academy in 2001,” he recalls. “Brett Deacon was my first patient when he was still an academy player. I needed to put some stitches in him in a game at Oval Park, but I’d forgotten to get him to close his eyes when I did the bandage and when he got back on the field he couldn’t blink! At the first ruck you could see him trying to rip the bandage off.
“Then my first game with the first team was at the start of the 2006/07 season, home to Sale who had beaten us in the Final at the end of the previous season. Tom Croft broke his ankle.
“I did more games that year, then became more regular and have been permanent since 2011. I think that’s between 350 and 400 games.
“It has got me out of doing the ironing at the weekends!”
Looking back at that time, he adds: “As an orthopaedic surgeon, I operated mainly on knees and spines, and did a lot of trauma cases, fixing broken bones. On the pitch, you’re trying to provide immediate care and support the physios who do a great job.
“It is great to be involved and, although you can get some serious injuries, you tell yourself that nothing is as bad as some of the things you see in real life.
“When I first started, guys like Martin Johnson and Neil Back didn’t seem to want to talk to the doctor because that meant they were injured. But it’s a great bunch of guys to be around. The trick is to get to know them, let them get to know you.”
Now it is time to take a back seat, to spend more time with his first loves of family, music and working with the charity CDKL5 to raise awareness, and re-join the crowd after retiring from his medical work.
“As matchday doctor, I’m not watching the game like a fan, I’m watching just behind the game, watching the players and making sure they get up,” he says.
“I used to record the game and watch it properly when I got home because I hadn’t taken it all in.
“But I’m looking forward to watching as a fan, mixing in the bar, listening to the banter. There are a few fans over the years I’ve got to now and would like to see at a game.”
In all those years caring for the players, who were his ‘best’ or most regular patients?
“Most of them have been through my hands at some point!” he says.
“I obviously had to stitch Julian Salvi a lot, Geordan Murphy a bit too.
"The one I put the most stitches in was probably Anthony Allen, but that was because he was doing an interview with Martin Crowson for the Leicester Mercury at the time and the stitches kept falling out so I had to put them back in again!”