Inside the physio's bag

What does a football physio keep in his bag? Swindon Town's magic spongeman, Dick Mackey, unzips and gives us a peek

Swindon Town FC's physio, Dick Mackey, reveals that he needs more than just a magic sponge to patch up a modern-day footballer. Here's what in his bag...

1. Towel

More after the break

Clears wounds or soaks up blood. 

2. Bandages

Cohesive bandages are useful for head injuries, along with absorbent and non-absorbent dressings. With any luck, they stay on! 

3. Underwrap

It’s like a red thin tape you put underneath a player’s strapping to avoid chaffing and friction. 

4. Petroleum jelly

This isn’t ideal because you have to lather it on a wound and things can get stuck in there, making it difficult if sutures are needed. But most things you do during a game are a quick fix. As long as you allay any immediate fears and get a player going again, you’ve done your job. 

5. Medical gloves

These are a must, according to the FA. I suppose they do protect physios from the threat of Hepatitis B, because we do have to mess around with blood. I’d expect one pair to last a game, but then it depends on the injuries you have to treat.

6. Tape

Players are a bit over-obsessive about tape. I carry it mainly for the substitutes to use before they go on.

7. Water

We don’t use the old ‘magic sponge’ anymore, but water can have a slight anaesthetic effect as well as wash the affected area after a player has been crocked. 

8. Airway

You hope you never have to use one as they’re only useful if a player is unconscious. It would have to be fairly catastrophic to have to get the airway out during a game. 

9. Cotton plugs

These are very important. They soak up blood from a player’s nose. They’re not a million miles away from tampons –  which are also very good – but with these you simply smear them with petroleum jelly and slide them in. A player’s blood flow during a game is much quicker so, if they’re injured, they bleed profusely and it can be difficult to stop the flow. 

10. Contact lenses

There’s nothing more embarrassing than a player losing a lens and you having to try and find it on the pitch! So I carry lenses and saline solution. 

11. Smelling salts

They can cause temporary blindness, so I wouldn’t use them on an unconscious player. Some lads use them for a ‘little kick’ pre-match.

12. Vapour rub

Loads of players put this on their shirts; it helps them breathe more easily. It’s a decongestant, although I think some players wear it out of habit, for comfort almost. 

13. Drinks

I always carry fluids. When I go on, it can be the one chance a player gets to take something on board. 

14. Ice

You can get thermal ice packs, but I prefer the real thing. I leave Deep Heat in the dressing room to keep the bag light and minimalist.

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