HARWICH AND PARKESTON vice-chairman Chris Smith hailed the response of his club after a day of high drama at the Royal Oak.

Saturday’s Thurlow Nunn League contest against BRAINTREE TOWN RESERVES was abandoned after just 23 minutes, following a nasty head injury suffered by Iron keeper James Waters.

The shot-stopper came to deal with a right-wing free-kick but collided with Shrimpers player Joe Knight.

Knight's elbow struck Waters on the side of the head - totally accidentally - and the referee immediately called for medical help from the sidelines.

He was out cold for several minutes and it was later reported that he has a suspected broken eye socket.

An ambulance was called and, after a lengthy spell of treatment, a decision was made to abandon proceedings.

The division one south fixture has now been rearranged for tomorrow night but, reflecting on the unfortunate incident, Smith was proud of the way Harwich handled the situation.

He was one of the first on the scene and, by day, is a medic within the Fire Brigade.

“The most important thing was to stablise the lad and not let him deteriorate until the paramedics arrived,” said Smith.

“Then they were able to take him to hospital, to a place where he could get definitive care.

“It tested our resources but, as a club, I don’t think we could have dealt with it any better.

“It was a very unfortunate situation but everyone did the right things, from the players to the referee to the club officials.

“The people who needed to be there were round him and I think the lad got the best treatment he could have got.

“At work we use something called the AVPU scale (a system to measure and record a patient's level of consciousness).

“The letters stand for alert, voice, pain and unresponsive and he was on the latter.

“He wasn’t doing anything I asked him to do.

“He wasn’t responding to voices or pain and I was nipping him hard.

“But as time went on, he moved up through the scales and gradually started coming back, to the point where he was blinking on demand.

“Thankfully, he had a strong blood flow and pulse throughout and his breathing was normal.”

Braintree defender Mario Hoxha felt it was the right decision to postpone the fixture and reschedule it for tomorrow night.

“You never really expect to see something like that on a football pitch,” he said.

“I wasn’t really sure what had happened to start with.

“I thought he’d taken a knock but when I got a bit closer I could see his eyes were flickering.

“I thought maybe he was having a seizure or had swallowed his tongue, so I pulled his chin back to make sure his airways weren’t blocked.

“He was breathing – only light breaths – but he wasn’t responding to anything and couldn't feel anything.

“Then, slowly, he became a bit more responsive when we asked us to squeeze his hand.

“He couldn’t talk and he couldn’t move and it was horrible.

“I’ve never experienced anything like that before.

“It was the right decision to call the game off.

“It had been a long break and people’s emotional state might not have been right.

“Harwich were great. They dealt with the situation very well, tried to help and and were sympathetic and respectful.

“Some things are more important than football and the match can take place another day.

“The main thing was James.”

Given that Saturday’s match was abandoned, supporters can pay what they like to gain admission to the Oak tomorrow.

Kick-off is at 7.45pm.