Looking after the Pompey heroes of yesteryear

John Milkins and Alan Knight. Picture: Mick Young
John Milkins and Alan Knight. Picture: Mick Young
Dion Donohue. Picture: Colin Farmery

New boy’s bitter-sweet Pompey experience

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John Milkins these days relies on a walking stick to get around.

He can still drive, although only short distances, the pain is too intense for anything grander.

Barely two years ago the 70-year-old regularly played golf, not anymore though. Not with his hip which needs replacing.

The Pompey Hall of Fame inductee epitomises the agonies of yesteryear footballers today.

Now the Pompey Former Players Association (PFPA) is striving to make a difference by creating a benevolent fund for those, like Milkins, who are suffering.

The aim of the association, whose chairman is Alan Knight, is to provide support to former players and their families through medical or financial assistance.

Knight expects to need two hip replacements in the future, while Ray Crawford this year underwent a knee operation.

Milkins, who made 389 appearances for the Blues, underwent a triple heart bypass in April and has to wait a year before any further medial procedure.

The former goalkeeper is hopeful his hip agony can be alleviated in the new year – but others require the assistance of the PFPA.

Milkins said: ‘The hip is getting worse and worse, it just seems over the last couple of years it has got more painful.

‘I’m using a walking stick at the moment, people have said it could save me leaning on a goalpost!

‘I have suffered for a couple of years, maybe more, and if you do not get it sorted out it restricts you so much.

‘A lot of retired players suffer in later life, I meet them all the time, and it seems to be especially worse for goalkeepers.

‘Something like the Pompey Former Players Association putting together a benevolence fund is a great idea because there are players who need financial and medical help.

‘If I didn’t have the heart operation the hip operation would have been speeded up but others are still waiting,

‘With my hip how it is now, I am very restricted. I cannot drive very far, just local trips and that’s about it.

‘I know people who have had hip replacements who are walking around fine now, just two or three months after the operation and they are up and about.

‘I also have a hernia but it is the hip replacement which has to come first and with a bit of luck I can see a specialist in early April.

‘I used to play golf at least once a week – it would be great to do that again.’

Peter Jeffs is treasurer for the PFPA, who were launched in February to replace the 50-year-old Ex-Professional Reunion Club.

And he is eager to raise funds to aid the former Pompey players struggling in later life.

Jeffs added: ‘Many former footballers have found it difficult in retirement and many of them are suffering with work-related injuries as a consequence of their former profession.

‘We want to help them, whether that means speeding up consultation with referral fees or help with the cost of surgery.’

For more information visit pompeyfpa.org