LITTLE more than three months ago, surgeons and doctors told Brad Inglis he would not play football again in 2013.
A horrific leg injury, arguably the worst seen in the Ballarat Football League this season, saw him stretchered off Darley Park in extreme agony and fearing the worst.
With his foot protruding at right angles from the rest of his leg after getting wedged in the ground as part of a tackle, the immediate thought among the Devils crowd was that their co-captain was gone for the season.
He had heard a deafening crack at the time, immediately grabbing for his knee.
But it was not until later he learnt of the extensive damage that had been caused.
A snapped fibula, a chipped tibia and a dislocated ankle – a trifecta that could send a shiver down the spine.
“I remember the pain. I was in agony,” Inglis said.
“I remember the club doctor was feeling around where my sock was because they didn’t know if the bone had actually broken through the skin. Luckily it hadn’t, but they were thinking it was that bad.
“Originally I grabbed for my knee because I thought I had done that. It turns out most of the damage was in the lower part of the leg, but I had actually broke my bone just below my knee as well.
“That part of the injury only got diagnosed two weeks ago though. They thought it was just chipped.”
But Inglis was determined not to rule a line through his season.
In consecutive matches he was in the grandstand as his side knocked off Sunbury and Redan, last year’s grand finalists.
At that point he knew finals were on the cards and the desire to recover only grew.
“The surgeons actually said it was wishful thinking if I was playing again next year,” Inglis said.
“But I always wanted to get back. I just wanted to be out there playing again.”
Spending up to two hours a night in rehabilitation to try to get his leg functioning again, the 22-year-old never lost hope that he would be out in the black and white again this year.
Having never actually won a final in his 10 years playing at the club at junior or senior level, it was the desperation to play in September that continued to drive him forwards.
He started doing light running early and although coach Rod MacPherson had seen his co-captain on the training track, Inglis was never realistically factored into line-up calculations.
However Inglis finally got the nod from MacPherson in the last round of the home-and-away season, defying doctor’s advice.
Ironically, the match was against Melton South, the very side against which he injured himself in round four.
He only played the second half of the match, once the sting had gone out of the game, but said his ankle felt surprisingly fresh.
“When I’m out on the field, it feels fine,” Inglis said.
“There were a few nerves because obviously you don’t want to do it again, but it’s all good so far.”
Now, having secured his first ever finals win in stunning fashion on Sunday, Inglis is hungry for more.
“It’s pretty exciting times at the moment,” he said.
“We go in confident against any side. We have beaten Sunbury and Redan, we should have beaten North City (the Devils kicked 3.18 and lost by 16 points in that game), but there is still a long way to go.”
Inglis said playing alongside his younger brother Harley was a special feeling, but that it could get even better in the years to come.
Youngest brother, Matt, who played uner-16.5s for Darley this year, is said to be the strongest player out of the trio.
“Dad says he’s the best footballer out of us. I don’t like to admit it, but he probably is,” Inglis said.
If there happened to be three Inglis players in the one team, that would certainly be a trifecta to boast about.