Donald Featherstone a 2013 tribute from his old club Southampton FC

I missed this post first time round. Donald Featherstone’s professional career and early work as an author was as a physiotherapist on work, dance and sports injuries.

Here is the club tribute to him by David Bull from 2013, copied in case this website post disappears.

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Saints Official Historian David Bull remembers Don Featherstone, the club’s physio in the 1950s, who has just died. 

https://www.southamptonfc.com/news/2013-09-18/don-featherstone-an-appreciation

Main pic: Physio Don Featherstone manipulates the knee of full-back Bill Ellerington, while manager George Roughton looks on.

Don Featherstone, who has died aged 95, was the club’s physio at a troublesome time in the Saints’ history.

After war-service in the Royal Armoured Corps, Don was practising physiotherapy in his native London, hoping ‘very much to get into sport.’ He had spent a couple of years at the Athletes Clinic in Harley Street; and then, when AIK Stockholm visited London in November 1949, to play Chelsea and Arsenal, he acted as their physio during their stay.

For the 1950-51 season, Don was the first-team trainer to Hounslow Town in the Corinthian League and was writing a column, in Topical Times, on sports injuries. When that magazine received an advert from Southampton FC for a physio, the editor shared it with Don in advance of publication.

Thus given a head-start, Don dispatched a one-page letter of application-cum-cv. He didn’t’ mess about. He told the club that only two Hounslow players had missed a match through injury and the team had gone 17 weeks, unchanged – not bad, he suggested, for a part-time physio, treating injuries two evenings a week and an occasional Sunday morning. Just think what he might achieve, working full-time. Don told the Southampton directors that he’d appreciate a club-house and ‘a salary on a level with the basic pay of First Team players.’  

He was appointed forthwith and started work in August 1951. It was an odd set-up, under Sid Cann, a former Manchester City and Charlton Athletic player who had qualified as a masseur. He had been Southampton’s masseur-cum-assistant trainer for three seasons, until the manager Bill Dodgin left in 1949. Of three internal candidates, Cann landed the vacancy. But trainer Sam Warhurst, an unsuccessful applicant, was still there. A former Saints goalkeeper, he didn’t have a lot of time for Featherstone, with his ‘new-fangled’ ways. At least Don felt that he got on well with the players, including the all-powerful captain, Joe Mallett – the “Godfather”, as Don saw it.

It was Mallett who tipped Don off about an odd development in December 1951. The side had been having a poor run, including an 8-2 defeat at Bury, when Cann resigned. So the Board apparently decided that, while they no longer wanted him as manager, it would be good to retain him as the physio, in which case Featherstone would have to go. Cann, to his credit, was having none of that.

So Don remained until 1955, when the chairman advised him that, despite his ‘excellent work’, the club’s ‘difficult financial situation’ required ‘the utmost economy’, which included dispensing with his services. Don was not without work – he had a private clinic round the corner from The Dell – but when Ted Bates became the manager in October 1955, Don did ask for his job back. 

Bates continued to plead that the club had no money. Before long, Don realised that his dismissal ‘was the best thing that ever happened’ to him.

He was soon writing books on physiotherapy and then branched out into military history and war-gaming, a field in which he would become an internationally-renowned author, with 40-odd titles to his name. 

DONALD FREDERICK FEATHERSTONE

20 March 1918 – 3 September 2013

https://www.southamptonfc.com/news/2013-09-18/don-featherstone-an-appreciation

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I have written a little about his early / other career:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/11/donald-featherstones-unusual-take-on-casualties-and-campaigns/

My small Featherstone “Saints” Southampton FC physio centenary tribute using Airfix 1:32 footballers in 2018 – I’m sure the Don wore a suit and tie and not a tracksuit.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/donald-featherstones-centenary/

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This blog post was incidentally inspired by this Dunfermline FC inspired one:

http://prometheusinaspic.blogspot.com/2022/01/hooptedoodle-420-whence-pars.html

And my 2020 blog chat with Marvin @ Suburban Militarism

https://suburbanmilitarism.wordpress.com/2020/10/22/return-of-the-macc/

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 16 January 2022

6 thoughts on “Donald Featherstone a 2013 tribute from his old club Southampton FC”

  1. Scottish football teams always had more romantic sounding names as we gathered on Saturday teatimes to watch the football results. As exotic as the shipping forecast …
    interesting social history blog post – I lament the slow death of local football clubs as I mourn the loss of chapels and other community spaces (interesting Forgotten Georgia type website on Cornwall called Mapping Methodism). Losing local distinctiveness …

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  2. Interesting post once again , I believe Don wrote a book on Ballroom Dancing without injury or something (or am I misremembering ?)

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  3. Thanks for sharing this interesting information about Donald Featherstone’s work as a physio both with Southampton FC and as a private practitioner.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  4. Thanks Bob. I’ve not read his non-history and non-wargaming books, but having spent the evenings skim reading the scans of Wargamers Newsletters (the John Haines fourcats.co.uk site) for early Peter Laing adverts and figure reviews by Don, I trust his other books have that same easy but informative style of avuncular and authoritative enthusiasm.
    Don was a great supporter of Peter Laing and his 15mm (who was in turn a valued regular advertiser) even though Don declared himself a 30mm (25mm 20mm) Man and no smaller.

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