I finished my second year at St Helens College in the early summer of 2014. In the last few months it’d been a right laugh but it was time to move on. All the boring paperwork that went with building really annoyed me as all I wanted to do was to build. I was basically orchestrating situations on site to collect pictures, or ‘evidence’ as they called it, that I could do the simplest of things. For example I had to prove that I could brush up. Why? well I’ll never know. Frankly I didn’t see the point and in part such things were what made me look forward to getting out of there.
I spoke to Chris, my closest mate at college, about whether he planned on continuing on to do a level 3 in detailed brickwork. Chris didn’t want too though because of his age. He was in his mid-twenties by the time we finished so I fully understood why, but that meant we probably wouldn’t speak much from then on.
In summary I’d actually enjoyed my time at college. They’d always been flexible to work around my hospital appointments for my eyes and the charity golf days I played in-though they I told them they were hospital appointments too [laugh emoji]
When I’d finished college in the early summer, I was working five days a week, which freed me up on an evening to play golf to my hearts contempt. As it happened 2014 turned out to be one of my best, if not the best of my golfing seasons I’ve ever had. Due to my continues growth spurt which was now well and truly underway , I was getting bigger, swinging it faster and hitting it further, and this meant better scores.
It was my last year on the junior team as I’d turned 18 in the February a few months earlier and my days as Junior captain had now faded away. Luckily for me though, my mate Dec was Junior Captain of the club in 2014 so I still got on the team. If I’m honest, I actually got bored of the junior matches in that last year. We often got drew with the same clubs in our league each season, which meant playing the same people and the same courses each year. And on top of that, few of our rivals had any social skills. I’d try desperately to get a conversation out of them but I found I couldn’t relate to them much other than golf. Again, I found myself in the same situation as I did when I’d started to work, and that was that outside my group of mates, I much preferred having a conversation with an adult.
But as one door was closing another one was opening. I’d become mates with a guy at the club called Karl. He was a short guy, about the same size as me when I’d met him and with next to no hair and a good sense of humour. We’d often played together in the winter league-a league with mostly a lot of the older members that was played from 7am-8am in the off season. It was a good laugh in winter league; a lot of the guys were really nice and more than welcoming to me playing on those early, dewy mornings with them.
Karl was captain of the clubs South Lancashire League team. The South Lancs League was a season long competition between around 10 or so clubs played in the form of match play, my favourite format. Obviously this team was an adults-only team and lucky for me my break came just at the right age, as I’d turned 18 only months earlier. Karl approached me when someone had dropped out of a match at the last minute and they were one short. I gladly accepted and won my first match easily. I really enjoyed match play and it was where I played my best golf. Prior to the South Lancs League I’d been in the junior knockout final four years in a row, winning two of them, and considering there was a fair few juniors, that in itself was a good accomplishment.
After that first match Karl asked me to play again and it just led on from there. I was asked to play every match then on all season, and from my first match I had a 10 match winning streak. This was by far one of my best achievements, even if it was just a small league. I was representing my club at an early age and I was very proud of that.
Aside from the golf everything went well that summer of 2014. Work was going well too and with all the sun exposure I was getting through being outside every hour of the day, I’d developed what can only be described as a ‘golfers tan’ . A ‘golfers tan’ looked ridiculous when I took my top off as I have a brown face, neck, arms and legs, whilst the rest of me was the same colour as a milk bottle. As you can imagine it raised a few eyebrows when we went to France that summer, where no doubt the French could tell I was a Brit.
In September 2014 I started a new course at college, an NVQ and diploma in level 3 brickwork. It was somewhat different to the level 2, as the level 3 was concentrated on ‘detailed brickwork’ as a pose to house building kinda stuff. It wasn’t at St Helens College either, it was at a small training centre were army veterans trained in basic trade skills once they’d retired from service. A couple called the Fullagers ran the small centre based in Lea Green, St Helens. A guy called Morris was the main guy in charge. He was a tall, big guy who of the very authoritative no-shit type. I didn’t mind him but I didn’t get on with him as well as Ged at St Helens College as we didn’t have the same sense of humour and Morris was very serious-probably because it was his own business.
A few of the other lads from St Helens College had continued on to do the level 3 along with me, but my mate Chris decided to go on to just work instead. As we broke up for Christmas 2014 everything was going well: golf, work, college.
Christmas went normal that year in a sharp contrast to what was to come just 12 months later. I even went on a night out round Liverpool for the first time on Boxing Day with my mate from college Kurtis. I was almost 19 years old and that made me comparatively late compared to my mates for going on a night out, they’d all been going out underage since they were 16 or 17. In truth I couldn’t have even gone out at that age if I wanted too as I looked like a baby with blonde fluff on my face.
It was just after Christmas, in January 2015 when I had a real bad accident in what I believe proved to be the catalyst of what was to come. It was an early afternoon on a Saturday at the end of January. My bedroom was right at the top of the house in the roof and I’d been down for a shower before I was off to golf in the afternoon. I was one of those people who sprint up and down stairs and that worked against me on a few occasions, but this time was different. I’d gone back up to my room to get some stuff to be ironed before I went to golf. As I sprinted back down and reached the bottom few steps my right foot went from underneath me and I went down like a lead balloon, bashing my head on the wall and my left leg, just above the knee, on the banister post as I went tumbling.
There was an almighty bang when my leg hit the post that shook the glass panelling in the banister. I’d hit the thing at some speed and I was just as concerned that I’d broke the glass as I was about myself. I was swearing and cursing all sorts as I rolled around on the floor for a split second. Strangely the first thing I did was to jump up and to start hopping around back and forth on the landing. My dad shouted ‘you alright Chris’ up the stairs. ‘Yeah fine’ I shouted back down as I hopped around, even though I was quite the opposite.
I went to golf later that afternoon to practice but I came home early due to the sheer pain I was in. At that point I knew some serious damage had been done, I just didn’t know the extent of it….yet.