Ex-Sunderland man wins non-league award after suffering two life-threatening brain injuries

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The former Sunderland man has returned to playing after serious doubts about his career

Former Sunderland defender Patrick Almond has won Whitley Bay’s Players’ Player of the Season after returning from two serious brain injuries.

The Wallsend Boys Club product worked his way through the Black Cats’ academy system and made his senior debut in a 2-1 win against Manchester United Under-23s in a Papa John’s Trophy tie in October 2021. The central defender then enjoyed a loan spell at National League North Blyth Spartans before being released by Sunderland at the end of the campaign.

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Almond was later involved in a road traffic collision in Manchester and there were serious concerns after he sustained life-threatening injuries during the incident. Almond, though, returned to action with Shildon before a stint with National League North club Darlington. However, Almond was taken to hospital with a suspected concussion during an FA Trophy tie at Southend United before being diagnosed with a bleed on the brain in 2023.

Almond, though, has worked his way back to fitness and has restarted his career with Whitley Bay after joining the four-time FA Vase winners the following November. Almond was recently named Whitley Bay’s Players’ Player of the Season having performed well for the club this season.

In the days following the incident in Southend and Almond’s second brain injury, the directors of Darlington Football Club Supporters Group set up a fundraiser to help with medical costs, with the consent of Paddy’s family.

The Go Fund Me page raised a whopping £13,652 - including £1,000 donations from Sunderland AFC and Maurice Louis-Dreyfus - alongside support from players Issac Hayden, David Stockdale and Ellis Taylor as well as from football fans up and down the United Kingdom.

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“It was really unbelievable,” Paddy told The Echo last year when asked about the support and financial aid from the world of football. “I didn’t expect anything near that. You can’t describe it.

“I didn’t really know too much about it until after two or three days in hospital and then my dad mentioned it. It was a massive shock. The more you look into it and see the people who have donated, you can’t thank them enough for the support, for everything, it was unbelievable.

“Sitting in hospital for three weeks is not a nice place to be but seeing all of the support coming in and the messages is what I needed to get through it. It really helped me.”

“It grew arms and legs,” Paddy’s father, Kevin Almond, who has been with his son through every step of the recovery process, explained. “You had Spennymoor supporters group putting in and Southend supporters group too, as well as many others.

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“I think it touched a lot of people. When football works together, it is amazing what the community can do sometimes when it comes together. I know it can get a lot of stick football, but when it comes together it is brilliant."

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