This is the fourth in a series of ‘Life in Football’ articles which looks at the people behind the scenes at GAFC and their careers outside of the club.
This article first appeared in the Guiseley AFC Matchday Programme, for more exclusive content be sure to pick one up from our sellers before games at Nethermoor.
As a new face at Nethermoor, Ash Proctor has had to acclimatise quickly in what has been a challenging season for The Lions.
However, the 23-year-old Morecambe-born therapist has taken it all in his stride.
It was a daunting prospect taking over from long-time therapist Martin Stringfellow, who had been at the club for ten years.
“I found it a little bit challenging to start with,” said Ash.
“I knew Martin had been involved for a long time, so I didn’t want to kind of intrude on any relations he’d made with the fans or anything like that. But it’s not something that I’ve let get in the way.”
Ash came to Yorkshire to study sport and exercise therapy at Leeds Beckett University, before undertaking a Masters in sports medicine.
After four years in education he became the sports therapist for Guiseley’s Academy.
After spending a year in the role, and following Stringfellow’s departure, he stepped up to oversee the first team as well.
It is a role that poses distinct challenges from his previous responsibilities.
Whereas his role with the Academy required pitch side
supervision once a week, his new position is a full-time job requiring dedication and lots of preparation.
Ash said: “I’m a lot more involved in the run up to matches, doing sports massages or strappings for the players before the games.
“I need to assess the players’ fitness pre-match and make recommendations to the gaffer on whether they’re ready to play” he said.
“There’s a lot more work at home as well, like planning rehab programmes.”
The first few weeks with the first team were especially hectic as Ash tried to get up to speed and learn anything he needed to know from Stringfellow before he left.
“It was difficult to start with because it’s my first full-time sports therapy position. I’ve had to get stuck into it.
“There’s been a lot administrative work, checking on players recovering from surgery and things like that.
“I needed to make sure that I was familiar with the injured players and where they were in their recovery process.
“It didn’t take me too long to get up to speed.”
With a number of key players injured, and a change in management, the challenges have come thick and fast in Ash’s first year in the role.
He has taken these in his stride, having returned midfielder Will Hatfield to match speed within his first few weeks, and managing to build up a relationship with the team.
Ash knew how important it was for a sports therapist to communicate with the team’s management, and he was immediately able to strike up a good relationship with Sean St Ledger, as well as former boss Paul Cox.
“It’s a massively important part of the job. I’ve got a good relationship with Sean, and I need to keep him in the loop. So, I have to report to Sean straight away when players come to me,” said Ash.
Despite the obstacles and challenges that he has faced, Ash has settled in at Nethermoor, and has enjoyed dealing with everything the job has thrown at him, as well as interacting with the team and the fans.
He said: “I’m enjoying my time here. I know it’s only been two months but I have really settled in well. The players are areally good set of lads.
“I’ve always liked the friendly atmosphere here, it’s a really friendly club.
“It is just nice to have that fan interaction as much as possible, everyone has made me feel welcome.”
Written by Alex Smith – Alex has written a series of articles on the people who work behind the scenes at the club.
He is studying for a Masters Degree at Leeds Trinity University in Horsforth.
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