BROWNE ON THE BALL: It will take more than a fractured eye socket to hold Boston United’s Conor Marshall back

Conor Marshall.
Conor Marshall.

That wasn’t they way it was supposed to end.

Conor Marshall left York Street on a stretcher on Saturday afternoon, his season expected to be cut cruelly short after a collision of heads with teammate Junior Konadu.

By Saturday night Boston United had annnounced their player had suffered a fractured cheek bone and eye socket.

The sympathy tweets began to be sent and everyone was feeling very sorry for Conor Marshall... everyone except for Conor Marshall.

“I’m feeling ok and will be back before you no” was his defiant response.

And it is that attitude which sums the man up.

Marshall is not one to duck a challenge.

With the muscles, the tattoos and the cropped hair he carries himself with the look of a wild Celtic warrior.

And he has the attitude to match.

He doesn’t let a setback bother him. On numerous occasions this season Marshall has carried knocks but still played through the pain barrier with no desperate seeking of sympathy or thanks.

He just sees it as his duty.

Away at Hednesford back in January was the perfect example.

He wasn’t really match fit. But with the team already suffering an injury crisis he decided to stick his boots on and run himself into the ground for the cause until he was replaced by Ngoni Dongo in the 81st minute.

In the age of protective face masks, you can see why Marshall is so keen to believe he can still contribute this campaign, even if others within the club fear his season has come to an abrupt halt.

It’s an attitude which reminds me of the Black Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Despite having both arms and a leg hacked off in a duel, he’s still willing to go at his opponent with a flying kick.

Marshall just refuses to accept defeat.

When the Boston United Player of the Year award is handed out following the final home match of the season, it will be Ricky Miller, Carl Piergianni and Marc Newsham battling for the accolade.

But in some ways, this has been Marshall’s season.

Following some fans’ calls for him to be released in the summer, Dennis Greene stood by his man.

And Marshall repaid his manager by reinventing himself as a fearless ball-winning midfielder, with a knack of playing some tasty through balls as well.

But his talents don’t end there. Marshall has also slotted into central defence as well as playing as an important full back on both the left and right flanks, featuring in every competitive match of the season, barring the Lincs Senior Trophy clash with Gainsborough Trinity.

He’s the only squad member to appear in 40 consecutive contests this season, with only Carl Piergianni (37) pushing anywhere near.

It was always going to take something serious to stop the Burgh boy. And there’s some irony that it was a teammate who finally did that, despite his opponents regularly attempting and failing.

It would be great to see Conor Marshall return to action this season.

But if that’s not possible, I thoroughly expect him to be back and playing an integral role in future Pilgrims successes.