Physiotherapist Danny Shaw graduated from the University of Salford with first class honours in July 2020 and landed his dream job working for the NHS. He never imagined that just a few months later he would have the chance to fulfil another dream – testing his football skills against top-flight opposition in the FA Cup.
Alongside his day job, Danny plays part time for Marine AFC, a non-league team based in Merseyside. This Sunday (10 January), they will take on Tottenham Hotspur in the third round of the FA Cup. The tie sees the biggest-ever gap between clubs at this stage of the competition.
When the draw took place to decide which sides would face each other in the third round, Danny was at home, watching with his family.
He recalls: “Ideally we would have been together as a team, but obviously with the coronavirus restrictions that wasn’t possible. My phone immediately blew up with messages from friends and family who were also watching. No one could believe who we had drawn, including Robbie Savage! It was definitely a surreal moment. Spurs were top of the Premier League at that point, so it literally was the best English football has to offer; I was made up!”
Danny tells us the Marine players have been preparing much as they would for any other game, although they are excited to welcome their high-flying opponents to the Marine Travel Arena.
“The preparation has been very similar to how we would prepare for a normal league game, albeit our opposition would usually be seven leagues below Tottenham!
“I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to play against world class players. Obviously, a lot of their team might be rested but hopefully a few of the fringe players will be playing, who are still top quality, world class players. And of course, I’m looking forward to seeing one of the most well-known managers on the planet, Jose Mourinho, at our small local football club!”
Sadly fans won’t be able to attend the fixture after the new national lockdown was announced on Monday evening, however the game will be televised live by the BBC.
Football has always been a huge part of Danny’s life. He first thought about working in physiotherapy when he was on a football scholarship at Tranmere Rovers FC.
“Unfortunately, I had ongoing back problems early in my football career and spent a lot of time in the treatment room. Seeing different injuries, treatment techniques and being genuinely interested in my own rehabilitation, I started to seriously consider physiotherapy as a career if football didn’t work out.”
Danny was part of the Professional Football Association (PFA) and had heard that they could help fund students to study physiotherapy at the University of Salford.
He completed the course part-time, allowing him to continue playing throughout his studies. “There was a lot going on and I did struggle along the way at times, as most students do, with balancing university work and other external demands. Credit to the university though, especially the physiotherapy team – without their support I definitely wouldn’t have achieved a first!”