FORMER Scottish international forward John Hughes has lost a fitness battle which he was desperately keen to win and now has to accept medical opinion that his first-class playing days are over. When he joined Sunderland from Crystal Palace on a £35,0000 fee on January 23, he was sure that a new and exciting chapter was opening for him.
But four days later in the first few minutes of the home game against Millwall he received a knee injury which has flared up over and over again. He had made two attempts to play himself back in the Reserves, but was only a shadow of his former self.
Turning power and shooting power, the top qualities of his game, had left him and the repeated build-up of fluid in the damaged knee was a constant break on his activities.
The probability that he would have to quit was first brought out last week and then confirmed after a medical check yesterday afternoon.
“It is a great disappointment for us and for the player” said Manager Bob Stokoe. “He has to accept that he can no longer play the way he used to. He has trained tremendously hard to get fit, but it became obvious that a decision had to be made.
“I would like to make it clear that we accept this as entirely our responsibility. We signed John in good faith and there is no bitterness or recriminations, but it has not worked out. The John Hughes story for us started on January 23 and it was the injury he received against Millwall which has led to the present position.
“He can no longer play first team football for us and that means that football is losing one of its star performers. He will continue with us until such time as the position is clarified. All our players are insured through the Football League and we will be submitting a full report to them.”
Denis Tueart and Vic Halom were Sunderland’s only casualties in last night’s win over Carlisle United and both reported for treatment today.
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on March 28 1973.