The Cat’s Tales

Mikey Rowe, host of the Catflap Chats Podcast, has met some interesting people across the 150+ episodes recorded so far. There’s plenty of fascinating stories, with guests across football, rugby union, boxing, rugby league, influencing and more. He tries to find out what it’s really like to live in that world, not only chatting about the highs, but how the guests deal with the lows too, and everything that happens away from match days and the camera.

Hello! I’ve trawled the Catflap Chats archives, and remembered a great episode on what professional football is really like, away from the millions of the Premier Leagues ‘Top 6’. What really happens when you go on loan, or when you don’t fit in at a club? How do you overcome the injuries, and what is it like playing at international tournaments?

This individual has won the Championship with Reading FC, but didn’t get a look in, in the Premier League, which still grates on him. He’s been with 6 or so parent clubs, and another 6 or so loan clubs. Life isn’t as glamorous as people may think in the world of professional football. You may not fit the manager’s plans. Injuries can happen at any time. The money below the top level isn’t in the same brackets, and even when people give you grief saying, ‘It’s ok, you’re on a footballers wage’, it doesn’t make up for the fact you give absolute dedication to your craft, for it to be hampered by injuries or the opinion of one person at a club.


I’m from Plymouth, so my local team was Plymouth Argyle (Up the Janners). This player went there towards the end of his career and hated it. The people and the fans were great, but the manager didn’t understand his injuries and how to manage him so he would be fit for Tuesday and Saturday games in League One. He said calling him a ‘Dinosaur’ was underplaying it. He even paid for specialists himself and had set routines to manage the pain, but it was overlooked, despite the manager knowing about the injuries.

To be then told ‘if you don’t train, you don’t play’, knowing that the player couldn’t do pitch training sessions every day, was a kick in the teeth. The player did everything else and more to be ready – nutrition, extras in the gym, stretching, pre-hab, rehab etc.

 Even in the Euro’s some years before, his injuries were that bad he was told to warm up during the last 16 vs Northern Ireland, and he didn’t want to come on due to the excruciating pain. Adrenalin and the chance of a semi-final got him through, but it wasn’t without consequence.

Talking of Euro 2016, what an experience. The fans, the hotel, the parade back in Cardiff at the Castle and into the stadium. Despite being on the bench in the semi-final, the anthems, the atmosphere and his memory of it, is second to none. They were stuck in their hotel for 7 weeks, but they genuinely believed they could do something, and the comradery was brilliant. The press and fans were everywhere, so they had to behave at all times.

However, being based in the north of France, they were able to get out on a bus one night for a sneaky night out, in the middle of nowhere. They get off the bus, not knowing what was going on. There’s a building on the edge of a cliff. The doors open, and it’s one big rave! Noone knew who they were, so the team could let their hair down. People were wearing snorkels, hats, sunglasses indoors, swinging off the ceiling, and the players got stuck in. What followed was a run to the Semi’s, and a pace in Welsh football folklore.

 Injuries didn’t allow our guest to carry on, so at the early age of 29, they had to call it quits. There were dark days. Teams weren’t willing to risk giving him a contract, despite him winning the Championship, and playing at Euro 2016. Luckily, his resilience is second to none, and 5 years later, he’s still running his own businesses and doing bits in the business world, based on his experiences with injuries and rehab!

To listen to the podcast, search ‘Catflap Chats’ on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts – It’s free to download and listen!

@CatflapChats on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok