Daughter of Doncaster Rovers legend Ernie Moss welcomes youth football heading ban

The daughter of a former Doncaster Rovers legend suffering from dementia has welcomed a ban on heading in youth football training.

Tuesday, 25th February 2020, 12:01 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th February 2020, 12:01 pm
Ernie Moss.

Ernie Moss, who has a rare form of dementia called Pick’s Disease, scored 15 goals in 44 apperances at Rovers between 1983-84 and is Chesterfield FC’s record goalscorer with 191 goals over three spells for the club.

His family strongly believe the dementia was caused by Ernie repeatedly heading heavy leather footballs during his career in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

Ernie’s eldest daughter Nikki Trueman described the Football Association’s decision to ban heading during training sessions for primary school children as ‘brilliant’ news.

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“As a family we support anything that is going to help future generations,” Nikki said.

“We have seen first-hand what happens in later life and would not wish what we have gone through with dad on anyone.

“As far as I am concerned, anything that reduces risk and protects our children should be welcomed.”

Nikki says she does not want to see the game changed, but the repeated heading of the ball in training had to be addressed.

“You would not let your child bang their head against a wall repeatedly and that is what the training is in effect. It is trauma to the brain.

“Heading could be introduced gradually using sponge footballs at first to protect the child.”

Nikki says her dad has recently moved into a nursing home because he needs 24-hour, constant care.

“It was devastating for us and mum has worked tirelessly to look after him for the last 15 years,” she said.

“We go and see him every day and there are always great big smiles, cuddles and kisses.”

The FA announced the ban on Monday and said a ‘graduated approach’ will be taken to heading in training in under-12s to under-16s football.

The ban does not apply to matches because of the limited number of headers which occur in youth games.

A study showed former footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die of neurodegenerative disease than members of the general population of the same age.

Dawn Astle, who has campaigned for restrictions on heading, also welcomed the news as an important first step.

Ernie was officially diagnosed with frontal lobe dementia eight years ago.

The Moss family have been campaigning for years along with the family of former footballer Jeff Astle - who died at the age of 59 having lived with dementia - for football authorities to do more to offer support.

Ernie, Chesterfield's all time leading goalscorer, helped Rovers earn promotion from Division Four under Billy Bremner during the 1983-84 season but enjoyed several spells at the Derbyshire club where he is classed as a legend.