Mick 'Baz' Rathbone, the head of sports medicine at Everton FC, joins the Football Trade Directory team to give a monthly insight behind the scenes at a professional football club. Baz had ambitions to become a doctor, but decided instead to pursue a career in football when Birmingham City, the club he supported, offered him an apprenticeship in December 1974, as a schoolboy he was capped twice at youth level by England. Baz made his first-team debut on 20 October 1976, and played 16 games in the First Division that season. He also played eight seasons for Blackburn Rovers before moving to Preston North End and Halifax.
Baz returned to Preston North End for a further six years as they progressed from Division Three to the play-off for a place in the Premier League, latterly as part of David Moyes' backroom staff. When Moyes joined Everton as manager, Mick followed a few months later. His son plays for the Manchester United academy
This week, Baz writes from dugout after the Europa League game against Benfica …………………..
'‘You can measure the worldwide growth in football over the last fifteen or so years in many ways - crowd sizes, wages, TV revenue, squad sizes and so on and so forth as our great sport flourishes. But in my experience the true mirror of the football explosion can be best measured by the exponential growth in the capacity of the… the dugout!
I am actually writing from the opulence of possibly one of Europe’s finest dugouts – the Stadium of Light in Lisbon. Twenty padded and heated Recaro recliners in rich red leather. Indeed so comfortable and spacious that it was hard not to fall asleep! That grandiosing of what was traditionally a cold, bare piece of wood has come about in response to the steady state proliferation of the entourages without whom no self-respecting Premier League team is complete.
Let’s count them: manager, assistant manager, first team coach, goalkeeping coach, fitness coach, doctor, physio, masseur, technical analyst, kit man times two, oh and seven subs. How many is that? Nearly twenty I guess -a full house then, and to think that when I made my league debut for Birmingham back in the mid-seventies there were three of us! Yes three, it’s hard to imagine just the physio, the boss and myself. Subsequently when our left back hobbled over and launched my career with a terse ‘my groins gone get the sub on,’ there was no looking around figuring out tactics, you were on pal!
This phenomenon of the burgeoning dugouts has been gradual and insidious. It went from one sub to two subs then came the assorted staff then five subs and the fitness boys. Where will it end? Who knows? Time to buy shares in Recaro!’’