Dave Seddon’s Preston North End pressview: Shame to see Tommy Spurr retire at 31

Injuries get written about a great deal in football and if you happen to cover Preston North End like I do, a decent knowledge of the various strains and twists players suffer has come in useful in the last couple of seasons.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 15th June 2019, 9:00 am
Updated Saturday, 15th June 2019, 10:00 am
Preston North End's Tommy Spurr
Preston North End's Tommy Spurr

Hamstrings heal, knees get right, ankles are strapped up and footballers get back out on the pitch – well, most of them do.

Sadly some injuries don’t mend to the standard which is needed to play football at a professional level.

That has been the case with Tommy Spurr who this week announced he had reached the end of the road as a player.

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Two bad hips have forced him to call it a day at the age of 31, retirement coming a good four or five years before most players would hang up their boots.

Spurr had surgery on both hips earlier in the year and announcing via social media his decision to retire was done from hospital where he had just had a third operation.

Football is a glamorous profession to be in but there is nothing glamorous about suffering an injury so bad that it halts your career.

At Preston, Spurr never really made his mark on the pitch, only fleetingly did we see what he was about.

Off the pitch though, he is as decent a bloke as you could care to meet.

On press conference days at Springfields, Spurr would often come into the media room for a quick natter as we waited for interviews.

He didn’t seem the sort to take himself too seriously, it was a case of having a laugh and joke before hobbling off for rehabilitation work.

One time he was totally and utterly bemused that someone had set up a fake Twitter account purporting to be him.

Injured or not, Spurr was coming to the end of his time at PNE, with his contract running out at the end of the month.

The retained list had him down in the released column but Spurr knew by then the extent of the injuries – all down to wear and tear rather than anything specific.

It’s three years since he arrived at Deepdale, signed on a Bosman at the end of a stay at Blackburn.

Brought in as a left-back, Spurr was understudy to Greg Cunningham which limited his game time.

Cunningham’s boots when he was out of the team, were big ones to fill.

What had the potential to get him more involvement in the team was a move into the middle.

The centre-half role was one he preferred and Alex Neil played him there in the opening few games of his time in charge.

Spurr was ahead of Ben Davies in the pecking order briefly – yes, Davies was only just back from his run of loan spells but we’ve seen what a good player he’s developed into.

When Davies nudged ahead in the battle to be the left-sided centre-half, Spurr sat on the bench and kept his fitness up in bounce games.

It was during one of those matches that he suffered a knee ligament injury and was to miss four months of the campaign.

Spurr played in a 1-1 draw at Brentford on his return in February 2018, as it turned out his last in a Preston shirt.

Last summer he went to Fleetwood on what should have been a season-long loan, one which the damaged hips caused to be cut short.

You hope that any player whose career is curtailed can get a lot more luck in what they do next.

With the degree Spurr has been studying for under his belt, that can hopefully open the door to a career outside of football.

This is the other side of the game, a rather painful one, but I’m sure Spurr will bounce back.

On the football side of things, this summer isn’t half quiet from North End’s perspective so far.

That is in line with the rest of the Championship, most clubs yet to make any sort of move when it comes to the transfer marker.

Behind the scenes there will be plenty going on, with clubs sorting budgets and deciding what they want for next season.

In terms of movement though, there’s been precious little.

The return to pre-season training being less than a fortnight away, could see things spring into life in the not too distant future.

Most clubs like some sort of business done during June to ensure new signings have the full pre-season with them.

It is not always possible for that to happen and of course there are always deals which go right to the last hour of the window – August 8 is this year’s cut-off for the Championship and Premier League.

On Thursday we had the release of the Premier League fixtures, a week ahead of the EFL.

It’s a bit of a nonsense all the hype which surrounds the fixtures release in the top-flight.

Fixture release day was likened by one national radio station to Christmas Day by reason of the excitement it generates.

Really? If that was the case, everyone would have their presents taken off them and given back on another day.

That is what happens with Premier League games once Sky Sports get their hands on the fixtures and arrange for games to kick-off at silly o’clock.

The disruption is not quite at that scale in the EFL but you still see some games moved within hours of the fixtures coming out.

It looks like an away start this season for PNE if you are to use Burnley’s fixtures as a guide.

The two clubs’ fixtures tend to follow a very similar pattern.

Burnley have a home game on August 10, so North End are presumably at home that day too.

So the weekend before when the EFL kicks-off, PNE look to be on their travels.

When push comes to shove, you play everyone home and away.

There will no doubt be a couple of Tuesday night shockers to enable a resumption of hostilities with the Highways Agency – that is par for the course.

All will be revealed at 9am on Thursday, so early to bed the night before!