By Tim Button
If people even know that Bristol Rovers has a team chiropractor, then most people don’t realise that I have worked here since the 2003.
That was a big year for me as it was the year I graduated from University. After five years of studying, I was keen as mustard to get started and I wanted nothing more than to work in sport but first I had to set up my clinic, Cleve Chiropractic, at Cleve Rugby Club where they let me use a little room at the end of a corridor next to the changing rooms.
I only had a portable treatment table, a desk, a chair and £40,000 worth of debt from university fees. Cleve let me work for the team as my rent for the room and I moved back home with Mum and Dad in Frenchay.
After a couple of months, I had started to treat a good number of Bath Rugby Premier league players and the head physio, Chris Mallac, gave me a ring to ask if I would like to come and work with the team within the club itself.
I jumped at the chance and had a meeting with Chris a few days later.
I will never forget how surprised he was when he met me and realised how young I looked as I was only 23 at the time. He promptly changed the job offer to a year’s trial! Working for Bath went well, though, and within another month or so the contacts in rugby got me a job for Bristol Rugby as well.
And if that wasn’t enough for 2003 then I received a surprise call from Rovers Stadium Manager, Ian Holtby, telling me that he had spoken to the Head Coach at Bristol Rugby and they had recommended me as a chiropractor to help with Bristol Rovers!
The first player that Rovers wanted help with was Junior Agogo. He arrived 20 minutes late for his 30-minute appointment (which if you knew Junior was practically on time!) with a seized up neck. The treatment went well and he was fit to play the very next day and he scored the winning goal. From that day on I have been the official Chiropractor for Bristol Rovers.
I worked well with Phil Kite, the former Club Physio, and Steve Bissix the club’s Sport Therapist.
They used to send me the players with back or neck issues to see me at the clinic. Over time they learned about the benefit that Chiropractic can have in treating recurrent groin and hamstring issues as well, meaning that over time I became busier and busier. I had the pleasure of helping Rickie Lambert throughout his time here and assisted in getting him ready for his medical to Southampton.
I was so pleased to see him go on to do so well, as he was a genuinely lovely guy.
Another player that I became close friends with, and indeed our families are still close, was Stuart Campbell. For those who don’t know, he is having a great time as Head Coach of Tampa Bay Rowdies. They came over on tour this year and Stu asked me to be the team Chiropractor for the week they were here, which was great fun.
Over the last three seasons, I have been doing a lot more with the club with regard to working at the odd game and working at the training ground most weeks. The last year has seen the biggest changes at the club with the new owners doing a great job behind the scenes, hand in hand with the Gaffer’s fantastic attention to detail and professionalism.
My friend and business partner (Next Step Physio clinic in Mangotsfield) Keith Graham is now the Head of Medical Services and has benefited from a huge increase in resources this season. I can honestly say that this club now has fantastic Medical support, akin to teams at much higher levels. Keith is a world class physiotherapist leading an excellent team.
Rovers now employ me to work at all home games, some away ones, and every week at training. This allows me to work not just on treating injuries but also preventing them and even the favourite part of my job - helping increase the players’ performance with regard to speed, acceleration, agility and balance.
Over the years I have managed to work in Premier League rugby and football, England Rugby and the London Olympics, to name a just a few but I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed my time more as a sports chiropractor than I am now, working with the mighty Bristol Rovers.