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Action Replay: Sadness in the Beautiful Game

A year ago on the morning of 22 December, Clarke Carlisle was hit by a lorry on the A64 near Bishopthorpe, North Yorkshire. Clarke was an ex-footballer and former spokesman for the Professional Footballers Association (PFA). He was subsequently charged for his third drink/driving offence and sentenced to 150 hours unpaid community service.

Five months later, outside Islington magistrate’s court he stood before a camera looking directly at it – and apologised for something no human should be pushed to do – deliberately stepping out in front of a lorry in a suicide attempt. ‘His expression of remorse for the lorry driver was desperate to observe’ ( i newspaper, 18th May).

Since being nursed back to health by the Cygnet hospital, Harrogate, Clarke has helped to establish a foundation to help those suffering from mental health and related drug/alcohol problems and has met with politicians to elevate this dual condition in the media.

Clarke Carlisle’s return to society will not be welcomed by all. Some will shun him, believing that he deserved a custodial sentence. Clarke’s behaviour has been described by those who know him as – drink – do damage, be briefly remorseful, do damage, etc. This typically reckless behaviour has turned people against him. Clarke has since apologised for his conduct and says he is a different person now. He has a new goal and his campaigning for more public and governmental recognition of the problems associated with the dual problems of alcohol and mental health is a worthy cause that may help him along the road to redemption

Clarke has experienced remorse and bleak loneliness. His journey towards sobriety and tackling his mental health issues should not be ignored by the wider public. Clarke’s involvement is a positive response to his own turmoil. Mental health problems affect one person in four with anti - depressants being prescribed widely to the public.

But we now await the ‘cuts’ the Conservative government is forcing on the public. It’s likely that mental health services will be badly affected as the government also encourages more privatisation of the NHS. It is not good news.

KEVIN