South Shields defender Gary Brown opens up on health scare
Defender Gary Brown has opened up on a health scare which saw him initially told he had suffered a heart attack.
Brown was substituted during South Shields’ 11-0 Durham Challenge Cup win over West Auckland Tunns in October because of chest pains.
Club physio Andy Morris immediately sent the 31-year-old to hospital, where he was given the alarming initial diagnosis that he had experienced a ‘mild’ heart attack.
Further tests showed that it was unlikely that was the case, but Brown continues to be closely monitored by health professionals as they try to get to the root of the issue.
The night spent in hospital after the game was particularly distressing for Brown, who was later relieved to discover the problem was not as serious as first thought.
“It was strange,” Brown said in an interview with the club’s matchday programme, The Mariner, as he spoke publicly about the scare for the first time. “I felt a bit funny at half-time and came out in the second half with chest pains, and I was sick.
“Andy took me straight off and sent me straight to hospital.
“There was an initial 12-hour period that I was told I had a mild heart attack, before a couple of other doctors looked into it and decided that I hadn’t.
“I’ve since undergone a lot of tests and I’m in to see the cardiologist at the end of January, when I’ll find out the outcome of all that.”
Brown was sent into a state of panic after the initial diagnosis.
He added: “Everything just went out of the window.
“I was still in my tracksuit and the first thing I thought of was my kids and my missus.
“It was 1am and I didn’t know who to phone and who to wake up out of bed.
“They kept me in hospital so it was a bad 12 hours.
“They haven’t specifically told me it wasn’t a heart attack, but they have given me a condition that I have got on my heart, which wouldn’t have been found it I didn’t have those tests and it’s something anyone could be living with without any symptoms.
“I’m in to see the cardiologist at the end of the month but they’ve basically said that there’s nothing to worry about.
“I’ve been flat out in training and games, and touch wood I’ve had no other problems.”
Brown was immediately told by doctors that he was able to return to training and playing, and he set about regaining a regular place in the Shields line-up.
He started the campaign as a regular starter before losing his place, and it has only been recently that the defender has forced his way back into the team, mainly at right-back.
He was always confident he would be needed at some stage.
Brown said: “I’ve been in football a long time and I know I wasn’t good enough at the start of the season.
“I understand that what has worked for Lee and Graham for years has been Dillon and Shawsy.
“They went back to that and rightly so, because I wasn’t playing very well.
“I knew as well that I would get my chance.
“I always say this, but it’s squads that win trophies, not teams.
“I knew that I would be needed at some point.
“I pride myself on my attitude and work-rate, so I knew that would be right because it comes naturally for me.
“I knew that it would be a quality we would need and in the last few games, it has been.”
To call Brown ‘versatile’ would be an understatement.
He has mainly been deployed at centre-back and right-back by the Mariners but in his career he has been used in almost every position, including in goal.
He insists he is ready to be called upon should there be any injury issues during games for No.1 Liam Connell.
Brown added: “I’m just happy to be out there and help in any position.
“I’ve always been labelled as pretty versatile, from being a goalkeeper to a striker throughout my career.
“I’ve played everywhere on the pitch, so I’m just happy to get a shirt on and get out there.
“I’d be massively confident if I was asked to go in goal.
“I’ve played there before and had a couple of clean sheets.
“I find it quite easy.
“My cousin is a goalkeeper and when we were younger, we always used to alternate in goal so I’ve had plenty of practice with him.”
Much is made of the attention to detail of Shields joint managers Lee Picton and Graham Fenton.
Brown says he has never seen the like of it before, and says that should the Mariners win the league title this season, it will be made all the sweeter by the hard work put in behind the scenes.
He added: “It’s different and is the modern day way.
“I can guarantee that there is nobody else at this level that plays the system and pays the attention to detail that we do.
“If we do go on to win the league this season, it will be made that little bit more special because nobody has ever won this league playing this way before.
“I’ve always been used to playing in teams that are direct, which is pretty much the kind of team which wins this league every year.
“If we can do it with a different style this season it will be credit to Lee and Graham.”
This interview first appeared in the club’s matchday programme on Saturday, January 19.