Forty years of football have taken their toll on Rick Haynes’ body.
Now 66, Rick has had to have his knees replaced and is awaiting a hip operation. He has spent many long months recuperating, unable to walk unaided.
Looking back, I know that if it hadn’t been for playing football and all these injures I would not have become a writerRick Haynes
In a huge amount of pain and going ‘almost stir crazy’, Rick started keeping a diary.
That led him to begin writing fiction and he’s now a published author of medieval fantasy – and ‘drabbles’. Drabbles are ‘little gems of short stories’ that are written in no more than 100 words.
It’s not an easy task and something that Rick, 66, would never have realised he had a talent for had it not been for years of playing football.
Rick, a grandfather from Denmead, says: ‘My dad took me to my first Arsenal game when I was eight years old. It was at Highbury, against Leeds United.
‘I’ve tried to remember how it made me feel ever since, but I just couldn’t.
‘So when I took my sons I made them wait at the bottom of the stairs and I went to the top and called them up. The look on their faces when walked up and saw 50,000 people was one of total awe. It took me right back. And that is why I love football.
‘I’ve been football mad my entire life. I played for local teams.
‘But when I was 10 I won a place at grammar school. I was lucky, I was from a working class family.
‘The only problem is they didn’t play football and I had to play rugby instead – I hated it. And it meant I missed six years of football.
‘It’s every kid’s dream to be a professional footballer and it was my number one ambition.
‘I don’t know what could have happened if I hadn’t missed those years. But I don’t have any regrets. I’m a great one for looking forward rather than back.’
Having missed the opportunity to turn professional, Rick, a retired finance director, played for a number of local teams – up to three times a week.
He says: ‘I broke my leg in 1971 and was in plaster for six months, but as soon as I could get back out on the pitch I did.
‘At 37 I was told I would need major surgery unless I gave up football but I didn’t take any notice’.
And, despite growing aches and pains, Rick refused to give up until he had played a game with his two sons and held his own.
He says: ‘At 47 I did it. I woke up the next morning and couldn’t move. I said “no more” after that.’
Sadly years of invasive operations followed and Rick describes surgery to remove knee cartilage as ‘butchery’.
He was left in agony and wife Theresa, 59, nursed him following years of knee replacements and shoulder operations. He is now awaiting a hip replacement.
Looking back, he considers his decision to continue playing until nearly 50 as ‘lunacy’.
He adds: ‘Because so much has happened, every time I get myself fit I have to go in to have another operation.
‘I like to keep myself as active as possible and unfortunately that side of life is suffering. But I have no regrets.’
While he was laid up, Theresa suggested Rick keep a diary.
And it was not long before Rick’s passion for football was matched by his new-found love of writing.
Within months he had written a novella, followed by his first novel, Evil Never Dies – a medieval fantasy tale of good triumphing over evil.
‘It’s set in a world of my own creation’, says Rick.
‘There’s lots of armour and swords and gods getting involved in the lives of men.
‘It was all buried in my imagination. When I finished it I felt over the moon’.
From there Rick moved on to drabbles – which are read around the world after being published online.
They have received excellent reviews and Rick now holds workshops on how to write them.
He will soon be a special guest at the first online International Festival of Drabbles in November.
‘They are very difficult and it’s hard to do a good one’ says Rick.
‘But I’ve written hundreds now and they have been well-received.
‘You can read them on Amazon and people seem to really like them.
‘I think it’s stretching it a bit to say I’m a successful writer – I’ve got a long way to go until I can say that.
‘But I have to say I’m surprised when I get messages from people saying they loved the book or the drabbles. It absolutely makes my day.
‘It’s so nice that people want to read your work.’
Rick adds: ‘Looking back, I know that if it hadn’t been for playing football and all these injures I would not have become a writer.
‘‘My wife and I are both great believers in fate. I may have been in a lot of pain but I have now done all this.
‘My motto in life is “laugh loud, love always and live long’’. I firmly believe in that.’
Rick’s novella Bolt Out Of The Blue, his novel Even Never Dies and his books of drabbles are available at amazon.co.uk. To find out about drabble workshops go to profnexus.wix.com/rickhaynes.