FC Halifax Town: "I just can't wait to get back out there" - Light at the end of the tunnel after a difficult 12 months for striker Stenson

After a dark, difficult 12 months, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for Matty Stenson.

By Tom Scargill
Friday, 29th October 2021, 8:13 am
Matty Stenson. Photo: Marcus Branston
Matty Stenson. Photo: Marcus Branston

It is almost a year since Stenson's FC Halifax Town debut against Wealdstone at The Shay, on November 10, which ended after just 16 minutes when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament, suffered a grade two tear on his medial cruciate ligament and tore his meniscus.

The striker had already recovered from a hamstring injury during pre-season, but this was to be a much more longer-term problem.

"The past 12 moths has been a real rollercoaster, mainly lows, but as I'm coming to the end of the 12 months now I'm looking up, I'm looking positive and I just wait to get back," he said.

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"To be brutally honest, it's been probably one of the toughest challenges that I've ever personally faced.

"There's been times when I felt like giving up, there's been times when I questioned whether I'm going to be the same player again.

"You just have all these doubts that cross your mind.

"It's just not been nice, but I've come back stronger, I've come back fitter, I've had no pain so it's all looking up now."

When asked what helped him most through the low points of his time on the sidelines, Stenson said: "My family, my friends, most importantly, the club have been very good with me, from the gaffer to all the lads in the changing room, Jacko (Alan Jackson, kit man), Milly (Chris Millington, assistant manager), obviously Az (Aaron Scholes, (physio), everyone's been there for me right from the very start, which has been nice, and it's helped massively."

Stenson's latest stage of his recovery comes next month when he will play in an under 23 game on November 16 against Alsager.

"I spoke to the gaffer and he said I might start, I might not, I may only play half-an-hour, maybe 20 minutes, but the most important thing is to get some minutes under my belt and get back on that pitch," he said.

"I've been back in full training for the last three weeks, with no pain, no swelling, no bad reactions.

"So it's just a case of building up my cardio now and as much strength as possible.

"I've been back training three weeks and I've been kicked, I've been pushed over, I've been pushed to my limits, so there's nothing in my mind that I'm fearing.

"I just can't wait to get back out there."

The doubts Stenson experienced earlier in his recovery have now been replaced by a steely determination that he will return with a renewed focus and resolve.

"I think I'll come back a better player," he said.

"Over the last 12 months I've learned how my body needs to be prepared, I've learned how to improve myself, I'm constantly in the gym, I'm constantly out on the grass running.

"I believe I'm going to come out the other side a much better player, physically and mentally.

"All the struggles I've had over the past 12 months have made me not only a better player mentally, but it's also made me a better person.

"I never want to sit in that gym again, watching all the lads go out and train.

"I never want to be in that position ever again.

"Once I got the past the stage of accepting that I was injured, every day I was in the gym and I was 'right, I'm one day down, I'm one day closer to being back to where I want to be'.

"That's what drove me on really."

Stenson has also moved past the stage of identifying a specific comeback game, and is now more pragmatic about when his first-team return might be.

"When I first had my op, I was in the cabin at training constantly in Az's ear 'when am I back?', 'when is my first game back?'," he said.

"I reckon I've asked him about 100 times.

"It then got to the stage when I had to stop asking him, and all I did was just focus on getting as strong as I can, and when the time's right for me to be back out on the pitch, that's when the time's right."

On a possible loan move to help build up his match fitness, Stenson said: "In my mind I want to get straight back in the team, that's always been my aim, to get back in, to try and get back in the squad, which is going to be very tough.

"But I like challenges, that's what I want to do.

"If the gaffer wanted to send me out on loan, that's up to him, but we haven't had that discussion.

"I feel like the gaffer wants me to be competing for a spot in the team, so who knows, we'll see."

One thing is for sure, Stenson's drive and determination to get back playing will not waver now the end goal is in sight.

"Expect me to be a new signing," he said when asked what the fans can expect from him.

"I'm not coming in to upset anyone, I'm coming in to push the lads, make them work harder for their spots.

"I want to be back out on the pitch, and unfortunately I'd have to take someone's place.

"So if it means giving the lads a kick up the backside, making them train with a bit more intensity.

"So yeah, I could be like a new signing."