Gateshead’s former sports injury therapist Annie Davis has opened up on the “heart-breaking” circumstances surrounding her departure from the club.
It is just over two weeks since Davis received an email from Heed owner Dr Ranjan Varghese confirming that her services were no longer needed as the Hong Kong-based businessmen continued his cost-cutting exercise.
Davis followed the likes of manager Ben Clark, general manager Alisha Henry and assistant manager Ian Watson in being sacked by the club during a hectic 48-hour period in which several key figures departed.
For Davis, it brought an end to a five-year stay at the International Stadium and she admitted that she had sympathy for everyone connected with the Heed.
“It’s a horrible situation that we have all ended up in and that the club has ended up in,” explained Davis.
“It’s very sad, it’s heart-breaking in fact.
“We have been close, and we have been like a family.
“I have been there five years, and I have a history of working with other members of staff that have lost their jobs.
“I have got to know the fans, and they deserve better because this must be devastating for them.
“They have always treated me like a member of the team, even though the majority of my work goes on behind the scenes.
“That was part of the enjoyment of being at the club and I am just sad for everyone.
“They deserve better.”
Davis has been one of the unsung heroes at Gateshead throughout a difficult campaign on and off the pitch.
The club ended the season in the top-half of the National League and were still in with a chance of reaching the play-offs ahead of their last three games.
But a 16-man squad eventually succumbed to the impact made by injuries, suspensions and key players departures and the Heed had to settle for a top-ten finish.
Davis had to nurse players through the season and the stresses and strains of life in non-league football’s top-flight took hold of a paper-thin Heed squad.
She admitted “It was a lot of pressure.
“It’s bad enough when it can be a pressurised job, even when you do have a decent sized squad.
“But when you have just 16 players, and not to have any spare players, it was a lot of pressure to keep the players fit and if they did get low-grade injuries, to turn them around and get them back on the pitch in time for a game.
“I think there were times when I felt I was having to patch players up and just get them out there.
“If I had the option, and more players available, then yes, I would have recommended resting them and giving them more recovery time.
“Sometimes you have to do that ahead of an important game, but I was aware that we had to get players out there.
“It wasn’t ideal.”
Such is the bond between Davis and the Gateshead players, she is still treating injuries sustained over the past few months.
As she speaks to the Sunderland Echo, former Heed midfielder Elliott Forbes is receiving treatment on a hamstring injury – despite the fact that neither he or Davis are currently employed by the club.
Davis explained “I have to thank Hebburn Town for allowing me to use their facilities because they have been amazing.
“It’s simple really - just because the whistle is blown on the season, the players injuries don’t just go away.
“The club still has a duty of care to the player, and I might not be employed by the club, but I have a duty of care to the players too.
“We don’t just down tools, even if we are out of a job and not being paid.
“I have been here for a long time and I’ve known some of the players since they joined the college programme.
“There is history there and an attachment.
“I wouldn’t abandon those players, because they need to get fit and get ready to return after the summer.”