FC Halifax Town: Stenson confident he can come back stronger from long-term injury
“One million per cent”, says Matty Stenson when asked if he is confident he will come back the same player from his season-ending injury.
It was 16 minutes into Halifax’s seventh game of the campaign when Stenson was forced off against Wealdstone on his debut.
He had battled back from a hamstring injury in pre-season, only to then tear his anterior cruciate ligament, suffer a grade two tear on his medial cruciate ligament and tear his meniscus.
The striker previously missed two-and-a-half years of his career due to serious injury, but he showed vast reserves of belief and mental strength to fight back before, and it is those qualities that mean he is convinced he will do again.
“I believe I’m going to come back twice what I was before,” he says.
“I think I’m going to come back stronger, I think I’m going to come back fitter, and that’s mainly down to the people around me, every day, constantly telling me ‘you’re going to come back a much better player’.”
Stenson posted a video on social media recently of the first time he’d kicked a ball in six months, and says it was a great feeling to reach such a milestone in his recovery.
“It’s going really well, I think I’m ahead of schedule so things are looking up,” he says.
“I’m not running yet, I’m only just walking properly without a limp.
“I just need to take my time and follow the schedule.
“The way that football has been incorporated into that is to give me a bit more of an incentive and motivation to kick on.
“It’s been six months now and it’s been horrible so it was such a good feeling to finally kick a ball, it felt good.
“Not being able to do my job, it’s just been six months of doing nothing apart from being in the gym.
“It’s been a struggle but the lads have said ‘keep going, keep pushing on’ and kicking a ball again gives me that bit more motivation to think ‘six months and I’m back’.”
Stenson was operated on for two hours at the start of February, undergoing an ACL reconstruction and repair to his meniscus.
“When I was in the brace, I literally couldn’t do anything, but I’m out of that now, I’ve got some strength in my legs and now I’m able to do more things with my little boy,” Stenson says.
“I took him out for a walk the other day, which was nice, but prior to that I couldn’t do anything, I was bed bound.”
When asked if he’s ever thought what might have been over the past six months, Stenson says: “Every day. I’m always thinking ‘what if I was part of the team, would I be making a difference, would we be up there even more, how would I be progressing?’, so yeah, a lot of what ifs.”
But Stenson says, unlike when he was out of the game for more than two years, there has at least been a light at the end of the tunnel this time round.
“My last injury, no-one knew what it was so it was a lot of uncertainty, am I going to play again, what is the injury, is the surgery going to work,” he said.
“It was tough, but this time I’ve got an end goal, I’ve got good people around me, I’ve got good physios, the surgeon is saying ‘do this, this and this’, the physio is saying ‘do this, this and this’ and I can see an end goal, whereas I didn’t have that before.
“But now I’ve got a target and I know when I’ll be back so it’ not as hard.
“It’s been tough but it’s not as tough as last time.”
Despite not being part of the playing squad this season, he says the club have been very supportive.
“They’ve been brilliant, from the moment it happened,” he said.
“I get regular calls just to see how I am, not even with the football side of things, just ‘is everything OK at home’, little things like that, and it means a lot, because I still feel part of the team.
“I went to all the games but then I got told to just focus on doing the gym and be with my family, just to keep me happy and keep me ticking over.
“I still watch every single game at home.”
Stenson also praised Town physio Aaron Scholes for his help and support.
“He’s been brilliant, from the very start,” Stenson said.
“With me not playing football, it’s been tough, I’ve been coming in moody and not playing, so he’s doing well to put up with me on an every day basis let alone juggling other players!”
On when he might be back on the pitch in a Town shirt, Stenson said: “What I think and what Az thinks are two completely different answers!
“I’m hoping about November, that’s what the surgeon said the rough estimate could be.
“Seeing the lads in the position they’re in, going for the play-offs, I’m kind of jealous in a way.
“It’s making me more motivated to come back, especially the thought that when I come back I could be a League Two player.
“It’s making me want to work harder in the gym, when I’m at home, work that little bit harder. I just can’t wait.”