A hero rugby player helped his team to victory in a vital cup final totally unaware he had gone almost the entire game – with a broken neck.
Scott Harvey, 29, fractured his spine and suffered a prolapsed disc at the top of his back in a crunching tackle in the first five minutes.
But the prop was determined not go off injured and – high on adrenaline – tried to run off the pain, unaware that another severe tackle could have left him paralysed for life.
Strongman Scott packed down for up to 15 scrums as his Barton Hill team went on to win the Bristol Combination Vase.
Tough Scott refused to rest or seek medical attention after the victory and went straight to work as a delivery driver and put in an overnight shift of more than 200 miles.
It was not until the next day that he finally went to hospital where tests found he had fractured one of his upper vertebrae and badly damaged a disc at the top of his back.
Scott underwent a five-hour operation where an incision was made through the front of his neck to reach the affected area.
His damaged disc was removed and replaced with a plastic one and a protective metal cage was fitted around it.
Metal pins and plates were also inserted into his fractured spine.
Doctors have ordered him to rest for three weeks – but told him he can never play his beloved game again.
Scott, of Kingswood, Bristol said: “I was really lucky it hadn’t been a lot worse.
“I’m absolutely gutted I can’t play again but I could have ended up in a wheelchair.
“It happened at a ruck about five minutes in. I went in to secure the ball, one of their players came to clear me out and smashed into the back of my neck.
“I could feel it pop straight away and there was a shooting pain that went all the way down my spine.
“I was on the floor for a couple of minutes, but I didn’t want to go off in the cup final with all the adrenaline flowing, though I was in agony for much of the match.
“I thought it was just an impact injury and I could run it off. Playing in the front row, you get used to taking a lot of knocks.”
After the game Scott quickly showered and dashed off to his job with a pharmacy company – not even stopping for a quick celebration pint with his team-mates.
He drove through the night to Northampton, Nottingham and Birmingham, stopping to buy only neurofen to combat the pain.
But as his shift wore on the pain in his neck turned into absolute agony and his left arm began to go numb.
The following day his girlfriend Lisa Gratton nagged him to get it checked and he underwent X-rays and MRI and CT scans at Frenchay Hospital.
Scott is still suffering from pain and numbness in his left arm from the nerve damage he suffered.
And because he is unable to work he won’t earn any money which is a blow as he and Lisa are saving for a house.
Scott – whose team beat Bristol Harlequins 31-10 – said: “We’ve had a really good season and to win our first trophy in more than 100 years was amazing.
“Then to find out that was my last-ever game was devastating.
“I’ve been playing up at Barts since I was about eight or nine years old.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to go into coaching – I absolutely love being down the club with my mates.”