Monsieur Salut, locked into a West End cinema after the Oxford Circus ‘incident’, writes: at my great age, the threat posed by leaden legs and dodgy knees to continued enjoyment of badminton may be disappointing but is neither surprising nor tragic. For Duncan Watmore, just back from one eight-month layoff with a rupture to the anterior cruiciate ligament of his left knee, to suffer an identical injury at just 23 is shockingly unfortunate.Pete Sixsmith leads all at Salut! Sunderland in wishing a speedy recovery for a man Chris Coleman called a good player, an even better person …
In a season that has been full of bad news on and off the pitch, we had to suffer another blow on Wednesday when the club announced that Duncan Watmore would be out for the rest of this desperate campaign as a result of the knee ligament injury that he sustained against Millwall. He won’t be back until next season at the earliest – who knows which league we will be playing in then.
A groan went around the ground on Saturday when he remained down clutching his knee. There was hope when he got up and re-joined the fray, but it was clear that he was struggling and as he limped off a couple of minutes later, the air of despondency, already high as we were 2-1 down, increased to the level usually found on the Government benches every time Boris Johnson stands up to put his foot in it.
The prognosis was not good, but we held on to the hope that it might be bruising and that he would be back to play his part in what is going to be a mighty struggle to stay in the Championship. By kick off time on Tuesday, we knew that his season was over and that one of the brightest stars in our admittedly threadbare firmament had been extinguished for at least a year.
He is the one man in the club with genuine pace. On Saturday, when he was given the correct ball, he cruised past Neil Taylor (a Welsh international full back) on at least two occasions and looked as if he could cause all kinds of problems down that flank.
Alas, it was not to be and this well spoken, intelligent individual will have to go back to the dreary grind of recovery, always assuming that the next operation is a success. Hopefully it will be and he can continue to make progress in what we hope is a promotion challenge for 2018-19.
He’s not only a player with potential; he’s also a thoroughly decent young man. He was at the same school in Macclesfield that gave us the Today programme’s Nick Robinson.
He joined us from Altrincham (another side to have fallen very much from grace) and set the Under 23 games alight with his pace and boundless enthusiasm.
Although not a member of the Di Fante production team, he is the only one of that motley crew (Diakite, Roberge, the Czech fullback, Jozy Bloody Altidore) who is still at the club. He has repaid the relatively small fee that we paid for him with a great performance and the clinching goal at Norwich where he probably had his best game for the club. Sam Allardyce knew how to use him; Dick Advocaat and David Moyes didn’t.
When a new manager comes in, all players want to impress. Duncan had a good forty minutes on Saturday in front of Kit Symons until he had to go off. Coleman spoke in glowing terms of him as a player and as a person and hoped that he would be back playing as soon as possible.
A couple of weeks ago, he became the 20th player to join Juan Mata’s Common Ground project, where players pledge one per cent of their weekly pay to a charity. He joins internationals Matts Hummels and Giorgio Chiellini, Premier League stars Charlie Daniels and Alfie Mawson and women stars Heather O’Reilly and Pauline Bremer in trying to make a difference.
I am sure that all our readers wish him a speedy and complete recovery. We look forward to seeing Duncan roar up the Championship next season in a red and white striped shirt.