Dillon: Bashed by Fash in Pompey battle improved my health

Former Pompey midfielder Kevin Dillon
Former Pompey midfielder Kevin Dillon
Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pitch being relayed at Pompey ahead of new season

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This Christmas sees Played Up Pompey Too hit the shelves.

Written by The News’ chief sports writer Neil Allen, the book contains fresh interviews with 23 of the Fratton faithful’s favourite players.

John Fashanu, right, with his former Wimbledon team-mates

John Fashanu, right, with his former Wimbledon team-mates

Continuing this week’s series of extracts is Kevin Dillon, who made 258 appearances and scored 58 goals for the club.

Kenny Swain was miles ahead of his time in terms of diet, hydration and fitness.

I used to think he was a prat to drink water before, during and after games. Post-match I would always have four or five pints, then return home, eat anything I could find and go out again – yet used to feel terrible.

Later I discovered it was down to being dehydrated and not having my carbohydrates.

Swainy would take a water bottle and drink during training, but I didn’t get it at the time, most of us even used to have the odd smoke. He was a clever so-and-so.

I puffed on the occasional cigar, pipe or cigarette, but John Fashanu helped me quit.

In March 1986, Wimbledon came to Fratton Park and drew 1-1, Mick Smith cancelling out Noel Blake’s goal in the second half.

Fashanu had played against us for Millwall four days earlier and smashed Kevin O’Callaghan with his arm – now he was back, this time with a new club.

During the match he elbowed me in the face and afterwards I tried to break his leg as revenge, earning a booking in the process.

Then, in the tunnel after the game, Billy Gilbert tripped up Fashanu and punched him. I told him I would see him upstairs in the players’ lounge – but he didn’t show!

Anyhow, Gordon Neave was our physio as well as kitman, he did everything, so had a look at my face and told me there was nothing wrong other than a bit of bruising.

By the Tuesday I was in agony and decided to pull out of a mate’s BBQ to visit the hospital and was then sent to what is now called Spire Portsmouth Hospital in Havant. It turned out my cheek was fractured!

An operation was required and, while waiting, I nipped out for a cigarette. A doctor soon walked past and said ‘You’re a footballer, aren’t you?’. When I admitted it, he said ‘It’s a disgrace you’re smoking’ and walked away.

I gave up that day and have never smoked since.

Whenever Gordon Neave applied the ultrasound machine to a player, it involved rubbing gel on the respective area of the body and then putting the equipment onto the skin. The problem was it had to remain pressed on. If it was suddenly removed then you were electrocuted.

Gordon being Gordon would get easily distracted and turn around, taking it off and leaving us in absolute agony! He’d do daft things like that.

There was an occasion I had a slight back problem which required it being realigned a few times a week – but there was no way I was going to let Gordon handle it.

n Played Up Pompey Too is priced at £17.99 and available from Waterstones in Portsmouth, Fareham and Petersfield and local newsagents.

It can also be ordered from Amazon.