by JACK NIXON
WHEN Aberdeen Grammar captain Calum Champion suffered the agonising experience of breaking his kneecap whilst playing for Scotland Police against the Army late last year, the enthusiastic, never-say-die number eight didn’t consider the possibility for a second that it would be a career threatening injury.
After all, the Fife-born policeman had been in the wars before when three years ago he had broken bones in his back.
“I have had my share of injuries, but the back problem started in my hip, and after a lot of discomfort I was diagnosed as having a tumour in my back – luckily they were able to successfully operate, and get me back playing rugby,” says the 32-year-old, who has been battling back to fitness since suffering that knee injury on 7th December. He returned to active police duty this week, ahead of hopefully making his rugby comeback for Aberdeen Grammar in BT National League Division One in August.
“I have missed the game, but have been filling my time with getting back to fitness, and recently spent two weeks on a rehabilitation course, which included working on a gravity treadmill. It certainly has helped, but generally I have been focussing myself on getting back to Rubislaw,” he explains.
“I have had my dark moments during both lay-offs, but luckily I have a very supportive partner. Tricia has been just wonderful, while my eight-year-old daughter Skye has kept me on my toes. My employers have also been very good, as has Gordon Thomson, the Grammar chairman. I also keep in touch with team mates.”
The former Haddington and Dunbar player has been in the Granite City for three years, and is enthusiastic about the proposed merger of Aberdeen’s top two clubs: Grammar and Aberdeenshire.
“It’s only right that this the third biggest city in Scotland should seek to pool its resources in order to field a team capable of getting into the Premiership. I’d like to see some progress on that one. It can’t come too quickly. There are some very talented players in Aberdeen and area who deserve to play at the top of the game. We need get there on behalf of the youngsters in the city, to ensure there is a pathway to the highest level,” he said.
Along with concentrating on getting his body back to full fitness, Champion has also been exercising his mind, initially deciding to learn Russian, before refocusing on the rather more achievable challenge of brushing up on his French.
“It’s not been easy getting back to things you took for granted, including learning to run again, but I am getting there,” he said.
Most of all Champion wants to be back playing his favourite game, and looks forward to helping make sure that Grammar avoids the relegation dog-fight next season.
“We’ve had two seasons battling to stay in National League One. It has been most frustrating, especially having to watch from the sidelines, though there was enough there to convince me that our many youngsters grew up this season, and will have learned a lot from the experience. I like to think I will be back there next season, pulling my weight in our bid to give the city a first class team to support,” he concludes.