By Andrew Wiles – @andrewjwiles

When Carrara Saints junior, Ben Spittle, ran out onto the ground for his first pre season match last year, he expected to blow off the cobwebs and have a kick with his mates.

What happened next would lead to the character of an individual, and his love for the game, displayed for all to see.

In a freak accident while flying for a mark, an awkward landing combined with a collision, Ben dislocated his left leg and fractured his left hip acetabulum.

His Father, Michael Spittle, was on the ground at the time running water, and was the first to attend to Ben.

“I thought oh no, one of the players is down. I tried to get over to them quickly and when I got there I realized it was my son,” Michael said.

From the ground, Ben was rushed to Tweed Hospital for surgery to place the dislocated leg back into the broken hip socket.

Two days later, after a successful first surgery, Ben was transferred to Gold Coast Hospital where a plate was inserted into his hip to repair the broken joint.

The road to recovery then began.

No one would have begrudged Ben if football was the furthest thing from his mind during his recovery.

In reality though, it proved to be the driving force behind his rehabilitation, as he was desperate to once again play the game that he loves.

“After my second surgery I wasn’t thinking too much about recovery, but then I had two weeks of holidays and that got me motivated,” Ben said.

“The most difficult part was watching them play footy and watching everyone around me do so much when I couldn’t.

“I was watching all my friends play and was trying to support them, going out at half time, yelling from the coaches box, just trying to support as much as possible.

“But I was determined to get back.”

It was the freedom involved in football he missed the most.

“I missed the feeling of having the ball and running during the game the most,” he said.

Michael spoke of the importance of staying positive during the entire process.

“His football created all his drive for school work, he worked so hard at school doing all his school work just because he wanted to play football, everything he did was about playing AFL,” Michael said

“We had to keep his drive going and to keep him positive.”

A visit from Gold Coast Sun’s ruckman Zac Smith, who had just been through a similar recovery process, lifted Ben’s spirits.

“Zac Smith came over to my house. He had his knee reconstruction as well so he told me his problems and we compared stories and he showed me how cool he was,” Ben said.

“I couldn’t believe how big he was.”

After 3 months without being able to put weight through his leg, the Spittle’s employed the help of strength and conditioning expert, Joey Hayes, to assist Ben in getting back to playing football.

“It’s the same rehabilitation process he would be using if he were at an elite AFL club,” Hayes said.

“Making sure that the area got sufficient strength and also stability, mobility and then flexibility to make ensure that his range of motion is similar on both sides to make sure when he comes back it doesn’t get reinjured was the priority.

“When Benny came through he really didn’t say too much, I thought I really don’t know how well this kid is going to go because he is pretty quiet, but he comes in and absolutely blows minds, his work ethic is on par with Kurt and Joel Tippet and some of the other elite guys I’ve trained.

“He comes in and trains himself into the ground, is always looking for extras, he doesn’t say anything he just does it.”

Nearly one year on, Ben finally got the opportunity to run around on the training track with his mates, the Carrara under 17’s, and he hopes to be back playing sooner rather than later.

“I’m in training now, I’m tackling, I’m not doing full game play but hopefully ill be back soon, I might only miss one or two games at the start of the season,” Ben said.

“My kicking and my handballing is all good, just bending down and getting the footy is hard.”

Ben is confident in his ability to come back and play without any complaints, but Michael admits, the family did have some doubts.

“At the beginning we did, we had no idea and thought it was all over,” Michael said.

“It was pretty devastating at the beginning.

“Once he got off the crutches and really started pushing himself, and the way he pushed himself with the phsyio and with the gym, we can see he is ready to go again.

“He just wants to do it all again.”

When asked if he had any advice for any other kids going through injury rehabilitation?

“Have a positive mindset and don’t shy away, it makes you stronger,” Ben said.

Keep an eye out for Ben running around in the Carrara Saints under 17’s team a little later this year. Their season kicks off on April 25.

Our Supporters