ECHUCA UNITED PLAYER’S JAW SMASHED IN MURRAY FOOTBALL LEAGUE GAMEBy Riverine Herald
ECHUCA United young gun Nicholas Kellow is en route to the Austin Hospital in Melbourne for surgery to repair his badly broken jaw.
The Eagles defender, playing in his 11th senior game for the club this season, was hit early in the first quarter of Saturday’s clash with reigning premiers Nathalia, causing multiple fractures to his jaw.
The incident resulted in an on-field melee after which umpires awarded a 50m penalty to Nathalia – while horrified family, friends and spectators watched as Kellow was assisted to the sidelines, blood pouring from his mouth.
Kellow was flown by air ambulance to Melbourne, with his parents and girlfriend driving to Melbourne to be at his side.
Though struggling to speak, Kellow updated the Riv on his condition this morning.
‘‘I definitely had a sleepless night,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s still very sore, I’m struggling a bit with the pain, but it has improved.’’
His brother Xavier, who was at the game with other family members, saw the sickening punch land.
“There was a bit of push and shove, it didn’t look like anything,” he said.
“They pushed each other on the chest. Next thing I saw was this big right-hand haymaker come around and get him right on the jaw.”
Xavier still cannot believe what he saw.
“Nick’s just turned 21, he’s harmless, he wouldn’t hurt a fly,” he said.
“The umpires were 15m away and must have seen the whole thing unfold and still they awarded a free kick and 50m to the opposition.
“He’s a young bloke, he’s just bought a block of land to build a house on and now he’s going to be out of work for some time. It’s not a great situation for him to be in.”
Echuca United coach Guy Campbell said there was simply no room for this sort of attack in football.
“We all play hard, but there is a line we should absolutely never cross, and today it was,” he said.
“When people are getting seriously hurt outside the rules of footy, we have to take action. As a coach, you have a responsibility to keep your players safe, and it hurts that today we couldn’t do it. I can only hope this isn’t going to affect his future in this sport.”
Campbell said Echuca United Football Club’s sole concern was Kellow’s health.
“A kid like Nick deserves to go out on a football field on a Saturday afternoon and just play. Now, he’s going to have surgery in Melbourne, his season is over because of this. It hurts our club, but that’s secondary to the real issue. This hurts a wonderful young man, this hurts his family, it hurts everyone around him.”
You can read a statement from the Nathalia Football Club in tomorrow's Riverine Herald.