Jimmy Watson can hardly complain about being bored!
It’s all been happening in the last year or two for the popular fullback, who has graced the South Leeds Stadium for a decade and is in a well-deserved benefit season.
A couple of leg injuries – each `out of nowhere’ and, ironically, both against London Skolars – left him on the sidelines for significant parts of the 2021 and 2022 campaigns. And he was denied what would have been his 200th appearance for his hometown club, against Midlands Hurricanes last Sunday, through a freak accident at work, a serious injury to a finger ruling him out.
He could find out more about the long-term impact when he visits hospital next Monday (24 April) but, in line with his always unfailingly positive approach, Jimmy is already thinking about returning to action for the Parksiders sooner rather than later in their push for promotion from Betfred League 1.
His first outing, in fact, is likely to be on Saturday 29 April, when his benefit match – against Drighlington, long-term giants of the Impact Performance National Conference League and the amateur game in general – is taking place at the South Leeds Stadium. Even the irrepressible Jimmy Watson, though, accepts that his involvement will be peripheral, perhaps kicking off and possibly even taking a shot or two at goal.
For now, though, he’s relaxing – as best he can – at home, with young son Lomax for company, together with daughter Layla when she gets home from school.
He admits: “The finger’s painful! I’m taking eight antibiotics a day, and painkillers.
“It was a bit of a shock, it all happened so quickly. I didn’t feel any immediate pain – that’s because the adrenaline kicks in – but then I did! But they were brilliant at work and got me to A&E very quickly.
“My family’s been great – Charlene is fabulously supportive, as she’s always been with my rugby injuries – and although I’m obviously off work, I’m being kept busy looking after our two young children. Hopefully my finger will be sorted and I’ll be back playing as soon as is possible.”
Meanwhile, his benefit match will be more about a family day out than simply a Rugby League fixture. The festival occasion will start at 11.00am – the game itself kicks off at 1.00pm – and, over the first two hours, kids (and others) will have the chance to have their faces painted.
A couple of junior matches are on the way to being arranged, and there will be a tombola, cake and sweet stalls, and a raffle. And, afterwards, after having paid homage to a player who truly is `one of their own’, fans – and Watson’s former teammates, quite a few of whom are aiming to get down – will be able to relax in the Phoenix Lounge with a `Hunslet’s Got Talent’ karaoke session.
Jimmy says: “I’m really looking forward to the day and I’m grateful to Drighlington for providing the opposition. Hopefully the match will be of use to them in what would otherwise be a blank week in their NCL season. And I have to pay tribute to Hunslet’s supporters, all our coaching staff and backroom staff, my teammates – past and present – and the board for being so supportive, not only now but throughout my career.”
Admission is £10 (£5 concessions, and under 16s free).