Interview: Holywell’s McElmeel on the road to recovery

When Tom McElmeel ruptured his Anterior Cruciate Ligament in December 2015, he initially thought his playing days were over. Now, he’s well on the road to recovery from one of football’s most feared injuries. We caught up with McElmeel to find out about his progress and how he’s coped with time out of the game.

Looking back at the injury, McElmeel admits he thought the worst when it first happened. 

“To be honest, at the time I thought that was the end of the world and I thought it was all over. It’s a long time, but in a way my recovery has been quick. I was diagnosed quickly with the operation planned for as quickly as I could do it.

Having had to watch football for over a year has been painful, even more so when results don’t go Holywell’s way, but I have had lots to focus on with the rehab to keep me occupied.”

McElmeel was operated on in June, with post op signs looking promising alongside a rigorous rehab programme. However, to the frustration of himself and all connected to Holywell, there is simply no time scale for his return after such a serious injury. 

 “I haven’t had my meeting with the consultant as of yet but from what I gather from after the operation it all went well. I’ve been having physio and also great guidance at Number 1 Health, Strength and Performance in Queensferry so everything is going really well so far.

“As for being back, I can honestly say I don’t know if or when. I’m working as hard as I can to give myself the chance too, but for the time being I’m taking it step by step.”

Yet there are plenty of reasons to be positive, as combined gym, physio and cardio sessions are all beginning to fall into place as part of the recovery as he waits for further evaluation after the op. 

“At the moment I’m training with Ste and Willow in the gym and on the days they train and play matches I’m out running. In a week’s time I start agility work with the physio so that’s when my knee will be tested more and I suppose I’ll see how successful the operation was. In a way it’s starting to all come together nicely.”

Sticking with the squad is an issue for all injured players, with many forced to watch from the sidelines away from their teammates. McElmeel says this hasn’t been an issue for him due to continuous contact with his team. 

“I see the lads regularly, and some of them I’m really close with. I’m always speaking to them on the whatsapp group we have going and I get to as many games as I can. Also the nights out still. 

“I do miss it (playing) yeah, whenever I go to games I make sure I pop in the changing rooms or stay after for a drink to keep involved. I do miss all aspects of not playing.”

After all he’s gone through, McElmeel puts on record his thanks to Holywell Town for staying with him on a long road of recovery.

“I can’t thank Johnny, Ste.T, all the lads and everyone connected to the club (there’s too many to name) enough for the support I’ve had since the injury.”

Holywell Town are next in action away to Denbigh Town for a 2:30pm kick off on Saturday 4 February. 

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