Quardruple heart op former Doncaster Rovers ace makes Wembley history
A former Doncaster Rovers ace who has undergone heart surgery four times has made history - by becoming the oldest player ever to score a goal at Wembley.
Chris Swailes, who played for Rovers during the early 90s, helped non-league Morpeth Town to the FA Vase yesterday - and became the oldest ever goalgrabber at the new stadium - netting the north east club's equaliser at the age of 45.
Yesterday's 4-1 win over Hereford United was made even more sweeter for Swailes - as it was the third time he has lifted the trophy during his career.
Swailes, who was at Rovers between 1993-95, and who also played for Ipswich, Bury and Rotherham among others during a lengthy Football League career, tasted glory just over two years after falling ill while playing for Dunston UTS and having to have his heart restarted three times.
Swailes, who has since undergone four lots of heart surgery, returned to the playing ranks earlier this year after ending a spell as assistant manager to Martin Canning at Hamilton Academical.
Hereford raced into an early lead in front of nearly 20,000 fans but Swailes' close range equaliser kick-started his side's revival.
After his side's victory he said: "I always thought I would get better. Fitness was always going to be the important thing. It was diagnosed as artrial fibrillation and I needed surgery to correct it.
"That was a year and a half ago but it's all going quite well now, it's not a problem.
"I was on beta blockers and Warfarin - it was quite dark at the time but I always thought I'd get better and as it happens it has. As for playing football again, I didn't know because not many lads my age are still playing."
He added: "It was special to get the goal and a special day for the club as a whole. It was a great occassion, we were massive underdogs."
It was a third Vase final victory for Swailes after lifting the trophy as a 22-year-old with Bridlington Town in 1992 and again with Dunston UTS in 2012.
Swailes arrived at Belle Vue in 1993 from Bridlington, following controversial owner Ken Richardson to the club. He made 54 appearances for Rovers over the next 17 months, scoring one goal before joining Ipswich Town.