FROM thinking he was finished before turning 25 to becoming captain at an 11,000-plus capacity stadium – it has been quite the year for Logan Stoddart.

The Worcester Raiders full-back suffered a broken tibia and fibula during a pre-season match at his former club Bishops Cleeve in July 2019.

It left him on crutches and unable to do his day job working on the roads on top of the prospect of losing the opportunity to feature for his hometown club following promotion to the highest level in its history.

Fast forward to today and one silver lining is that he missed nothing with the Covid-19 pandemic wiping out last season and delaying this one, enabling Stoddart to play through the pain barrier and make his return.

He is still under the care of the NHS with the pins used to aid his recovery due to come out in time but there was no way he was going to miss any more time on the pitch than he had to – particularly after Raiders moved into the county’s top sporting setting over the summer.

“It was not a good time to get it and I was out for 13-14 months in the end,” said Stoddart.

“As soon as I knew what I had done, the first thing that came out of my mouth was ‘that’s me done with football’ but then you get progressively better.

“I am still fighting a few niggles, even now, and it is never going to be the same as it was but I will always give 100 per cent whether it is hurting or not.

“I am still having hospital appointments to try to make it better. It is pinned at the top and bottom and they are taking them out to ease things in my knee.

“To come back and have the chance to play under the lights at Warriors, and under Karl (Gormley), Chris (Cornes, joint managers) and Rowey (Ryan Rowe, assistant manager) again is really great. I would never have dreamt it to be honest.

“From where I was mentally to where I am now and to be asked to be captain by the management, I don’t think I can put it into words. All I can say is thank you to everyone for helping me out.”

While football is very much at the forefront now, the focus had to be on life’s essentials when it first happened and the Raiders family made such a difference in Stoddart’s hour of need, which included three months off work.

“Chris Cornes was one of the main ones, helping out financially and coming round if me or my partner needed anything,” he added.

“My partner, my parents, Jordan (Stoddart, brother) who plays for Raiders, Karl was round too. Most of the players mucked in to help out and I could not have asked for a better bunch of people to be there for me when I needed it the most.

“It was quite hard and the first thing I had to think about was getting back to work so I didn’t have to rely on other people,”

“It was a relief that my managers at work let me know my job was safe, that put my mind at rest while I concentrated on my rehab.

“Being self-employed helped in that respect but at the same, I wasn’t getting paid. I got through it with a lot of help and I just want to thank everyone for helping and being there when I needed it.

“From there I just kept plugging away, I knew I couldn’t rush anything no matter how much I wanted to be back and eventually I got back in and playing.”

The skipper has been ever present in a flying start to the campaign, Saturday’s 2-1 win at Cradley Town being a fourth in a row to take Raiders to the West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division summit before last night's (Tuesday's) games.

This season represents a golden opportunity to progress again with four promotion places available as part of the FA’s shake up of the National League System.

“The first thing is to make sure we keep winning our games, we just have to take it one game at a time but we want to be pushing for promotion,” said Stoddart.

“We want to be winning the league, we know the top four is good enough but we want to be picking up a trophy the end of the season.

“With the players we have now I would put us in that bracket. The way pre-season has gone and the way it has clicked I think we can have a good go, if not win it.

“From not being able to play because of my injury and then Covid happening – realistically it means I haven’t really missed a season – to winning it would be the best thing, I could not ask for any more.”