CHARLIE Mills’ first-ever try for Saddleworth Rangers ended with a two-night stay in hospital after he suffered a freak injury.
The 18-year-old winger from Mossley ended up with a corner flag impaled in his leg during the 32-12 defeat at Wigan side Ince Rose Bridge in division one of the National Conference League.
“I will never forget my first try for Rangers, but not in the way I wanted, or the souvenir I have,” explained the apprentice at Greenfield firm James Baron Plumbing and Heating who has since been kept busy with media interviews.
The injury was sustained as Charlie scored in the corner and an opponent, who he had beaten, kicked the corner flag in anger and it speared into his hamstring.
“I was in mid-stride when it happened and initially thought I had pulled a muscle. It was only when I looked that I saw the corner flag embedded in my leg,” he continued.
The injury forced play to be halted for more than an hour. A paramedic, who had been a spectator at the game, advised against removing the flag for fear of causing damage.
Paramedics and the fire service were summoned, and the fire service cut the flag leaving a one-foot piece still embedded in his leg.
Charlie, who was given oxygen on the pitch, was taken to hospital in Wigan where the corner flag was removed that evening following a CT scan to ensure no arteries, tendons or ligaments would be severed.
“It didn’t hurt, and I didn’t know it was in my leg. There wasn’t any blood. But when it came out, I knew about it,” he added.
Charlie was kept in hospital until the wound was given a surgical clean.
He admitted to being lucky the injury was not more serious.
Charlie continued: “If I had not had my back turned, it could have gone into my chest which could have been worse, so I have been lucky.
“One of their players kicked the corner flag in anger. Whether he booted the air and unwittingly kicked it, I don’t know, but it was a freak.”
He is having difficulty walking as the corner flag spike has damaged his hamstring and he is likely to face a spell on the sidelines.
Sean Whitehead, Rangers’ joint coach, admitted to being “squeamish” and stayed clear of Charlie while he was being treated. He described him as a “gifted” player.
Charlie only began playing amateur rugby league midway through last season, ironically his mother had previously dissuaded him for fear of sustaining injuries.
A former pupil at St Anne’s CoE Primary, Lydgate, and Bluecoat School, Charlie is a talented sportsman.
He is a wicketkeeper at Uppermill Cricket Club and made his first-team debut aged 15. He also previously helped the Oldham district team reach the Lancashire schools’ finals.
Charlie also played football for Uppermill FC as a central midfield player and centre half before having one season playing for Ashton United Under-17s at right back.