Link to BBC Homepage

Front Page







World News in Audio

On Air


Talking Point


Low Graphics


Site Map

Tuesday, March 31, 1998 Published at 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK


Ex-footballer claims damages
image: [ Leather footballs used in the 50s and 60s got heavier as they soaked up water ]
Leather footballs used in the 50s and 60s got heavier as they soaked up water

The former Celtic footballer, Billy McPhail, is taking the government to court in an attempt to win compensation for injuries which he claims were sustained from years of heading a football.

He is arguing that the old-fashioned heavy leather balls caused him brain damage, which should be treated as an industrial injury.

Mr McPhail, 69, says that when he played the game in the 1950s footballs were much heavier than they are now.

They became even heavier as they soaked up water in wet conditions.

He described his experiences as similar to those of a boxer being constantly hit on the head.

"I'm in a hopeless way because my brain has been half-flattened," he said.

Mr McPhail was a centre-forward with a reputation as one of a master in the art of heading the ball.

He scored a hat-trick in Celtic's 1957 Scottish League cup final against the Rangers in 1957. A song was written in his honour.

His case, which is backed by medical specialists, will be heard later this week.

If it succeeds, it could lead the way for many other similar claims.

Dr Rowland, a Liverpool GP, was one of the first to suspect a link - interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live (3' 39')
Medical researchers in Liverpool are studying 500 former footballers to try to establish whether there could be a link between heading the ball and brain damage.

Dr John Rowland, one of the first people to suspect a link, says it may not just be limited to those who used heavy leather balls, but could be caused by the movement of the head.

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage

Link to BBC Homepage

[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Internet Links

Celtic Football Club

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.