A referee told he had depression by doctors who missed his brain tumour was eventually saved – by a FOOTBALL hitting him in the head.
Experienced amateur referee Melvyn Scarborough had taken a year off officiating games after suffering from chronic tiredness and a lack of balance – which his doctors put down to feeling depressed.
By chance he was offered the opportunity to referee again and took up his whistle for a friendly game.
Half an hour into the match, after giving a free kick, a rogue ball ploughed into the back of Melvyn’s head – knocking him out, so he was taken to hospital.
After carrying out a CT scan, doctors discovered a FIST-SIZED tumour on Melvyn’s brain and the 55-year-old was rushed into life-saving surgery less than three days later.
Melvyn, who has 20 years experience as a referee, said: “That football has saved my life.”
He explained: “I had only refereed about four or five games last season before I stopped because I wasn’t feeling well. I hadn’t refereed a game for over a year. I had even taken my name off the referee register and I had turned quite a few people down who had rang up asking me to referee a game.
“Then I got a call completely out of the blue asking me to referee this friendly game and for some reason, I really don’t know why, I said yes.
“I don’t ever referee friendly games and I said no at first. But for some reason during that phone call I agreed.
“I’m so glad I did.”
“Even when we got to the pitch, there was confusion about whether the game would go ahead because the pitch was actually double booked, and the organisers had to persuade the players and myself to have the game on AstroTurf.
“When the ball hit me on the back of my head, I was walking away from the pitch to the sidelines to give the player space to take his free kick.
“It actually knocked me out for a few minutes and because I fell to the ground face first, my bottom teeth were all broken and I had cuts to my face – I was quite badly injured and the player who had kicked the ball into me was distraught.
“I have been refereeing for 20 years and I’ve never been hit by a ball before, not even on the legs.
“That ball hitting me on the head has saved my life.”
Melvyn, who will have to take a year off work as a construction site supervisor, admits that he is frustrated with his GP who originally diagnosed his symptoms as depression.
Melvyn, who lives in Sheffield, South Yorks., with wife Donna, 55, a receptionist, said: “I was really suffering before my diagnosis, I had nearly fallen asleep driving on a motorway and I was falling down, tripping over things and making silly mistakes.
“All the symptoms were there and I told the doctors everything but it wasn’t picked up and I do feel a bit bitter about that.
“Looking back at everything I was going through, it all makes sense.”
When Melvyn’s tumour was finally discovered after his football pitch injury, doctors immediately transferred him to Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield were he underwent a further scan before being admitted.
With surgery scheduled for three days later, the doctors moved up his operation by a day and Melvyn was in theatre for 12 hours while doctors fought to removed all of the tumour that was thankfully benign.
Melvyn said: “Altogether I was in hospital for 11 days and I felt really unwell.
“The medication I was on in hospital to reduce swelling on the brain made me feel incredibly depressed and the doctors had to keep a really close eye on me.”
Now out of hospital, Melvyn, who has three grown-up sons, Ricky, 30, who is in the Army, Dean, 28, a supermarket manager and Ryan, 25, a tattoo model, has described his recovery as a “work in progress”.
He said: “Because the tumour was on the right side of my brain, I have been struggling with problems on my left side and I can’t feel my left foot at the moment.
“I also can’t remember certain things and I’m still on a lot of medication.
“What would have happened if it had never been found? I could have died or I could have had an accident while driving and taken somebody else out.”
“Me and my family have been knocked back by this but I do feel grateful that it has been caught.
“My mum passed away from an aneurysm in her back only two weeks before I found my tumour and my wife said she must have put her wings around me and said it’s not my time to go yet.
“That football has given me a second chance.”