This morning a headline caught my eye on The Guardian website:
“Scunthorpe manager Alan Knill ‘could have been killed’ by squirrel”
You have to admit, those words do tend to grab your attention. It conjures up a pretty surreal image.
Obviously, I read the story, and as a keen cyclist and someone who’s fairly knowledgeable about football I could empathise with his predicament.
Cycling blissfully along, he collides with a squirrel that gets caught in his wheel, and he catapults over the handlebars and lands on his head, shoulders and neck. Thankfully Knill survived the fall with just a few bruises and a philosophical view of the incident:
“For a minute, I thought I might have been in trouble because I landed on my head. Then, all of a sudden, I thought: ‘I’m not, I’m alive! I could be dead and it’s so stupid. I’m not and you have to put things into perspective.”
He was lucky. It could have been fatal. And what a way to go, felled by a small furry rodent.
But this near-miss has certainly helped him to look at his professional problems in a different way. His Scunthorpe team have made a terrible start to the season, and are currently bottom of League One having lost all their first six league games, and their cup game on Tuesday night. He’s under a lot of pressure, but his personal dice with death has made him appreciate what is really important:
“The situation we’re in at the moment, I don’t cherish, but there are worse situations.”
Bill Shankly may once have famously suggested that: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.” But then, he’d never almost been killed by a squirrel.
Anyway, the headline, and Alan’s response to the incident, and his determination to ‘always look on the bright side of life’ inspired me, and I wrote this little poem in response.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Poor Alan Knill, rides his bike down a hill,
to escape from The Iron fans’ invective.
Gets a squirrel in his spokes,
but survives, and then jokes:
“Well, it puts our bad form in perspective!”
All the best Alan, and I wish you and Scunthorpe United a full and speedy recovery.