Daughter of former Pompey player calls for brain disease research

Former Pompey player Rod Taylor died in April of brain disease CTE. His daughter Rachel Walden is campaign for research to be done between heading footballs and CTE.
Former Pompey player Rod Taylor died in April of brain disease CTE. His daughter Rachel Walden is campaign for research to be done between heading footballs and CTE.

THE daughter of a former Pompey player who died from chronic traumatic encephalopathy said there is evidence to investigate connections between heading footballs and the brain disease.

Rachel Walden is joining the campaign for more research to be done by the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) and the FA.

Rod Taylor, left, with Pompey teammates

Rod Taylor, left, with Pompey teammates

Her father Rod Taylor, who was at Pompey between 1958 and 1963, died from CTE and dementia with Lewy bodies in April.

The 74-year-old’s family made the decision to donate his brain to research as it was the only way to see if CTE had contributed to his death.

He is the second player to have been diagnosed after former West Brom player Jeff Astle died from the condition in 2002. His daughter Dawn Astle has been campaigning since his death.

Rachel, who lived in Fratton for five years in 1998, is now calling for research which could save the lives of today’s footballers and players of the future.

Rod Taylor in his Pompey days

Rod Taylor in his Pompey days

The 49-year-old, who now lives in Dorset, said: ‘The PFA and FA wanted more proof about CTE and heading footballs which we have given them.

‘This research is so important and what Dawn is doing is incredible. She has been so supportive of me.

‘I am a massive football fan and it is not my place to speak about banning players heading the ball. What we need to establish for players now and the future is what heading the ball does to the brain in 20, 30, 40 years time.

‘It is too late for some players but the FA and PFA have a priority of care for players.’

Mr Taylor joined Pompey when he was 15 as ground staff. He signed a professional contract in 1961 before leaving for Gillingham in 1963. He went on to play for Bournemouth and Poole.

Rachel added: ‘It was incredibly difficult seeing this big, strong, fit footballer suddenly become a little old man. When we found out CTE contributed to his death, we were all really sad.

‘It explained quite a lot though. He had such a torrid time with the symptoms of dementia​​​​​​. It was an awful time for us all and the more we can do to research this, the better.’

A statement from the PFA said: ‘Following two years of research and development, in November 2017 the PFA and the FA have commissioned an evidence-based study into the long-term effects of participation in football.

‘We jointly funded an independent research study into the incidence of degenerative neurocognitive disease in ex-professional footballers, which is being led by Dr William Stewart and colleagues at the University of Glasgow and the Hampden Sports Clinic.’