It’s been a whirlwind weekend for Clitheroe FC coach Sam Heap.
The striker marked his comeback after 16 months out with a goal as the Blues beat Burscough 4-2 - on what would’ve been his grandad Roy’s 86th birthday - and met Burnley boss Sean Dyche before the Clarets beat their old enemy Blackburn Rovers.
Heap, on as a second half substitute, netted in the 87th minute at Shawbridge to diminish the heartbreak of his injury setback sustained when playing for Enfield in the East Lancashire Football League.
The 28-year-old suffered extensive damage to his knee and underwent four operations and two leg braces before being told by surgeons that he’d never play competitively again.
“It was a great weekend,” he said. “I came on when we were level at 2-2 after we were 2-0 up so I was brought on at the worst possible time really. I got told to get up there and make a nuisance of myself. I did my bit.
“It was my first game back. I really enjoyed it though I think it was the adrenaline that got me through. It’s nice being able to contribute again.”
Heap added: “It’s always nice to get a goal, especially on my comeback from injury. It was an emotional day because it would’ve been my grandad’s birthday and he was my sporting inspiration. He died three years ago but he would always come to watch me play every week.
“Everything I’ve achieved has been down to him. Overcoming all the surgery and rehab and returning to score was very overwhelming. I nearly broke in to tears, but I knew I couldn’t because I’d get stick from the lads.”
That evening Heap met Dyche ahead of the highly anticipated East Lancashire derby at Ewood Park. The Shawbridge star shared his story with the two-time Skybet Championship Manager of the Month, before going on to witness the ‘Ginger Mourinho’ make history.
“I met Sean at a petrol station on the A59 in Clitheroe,” Heap said. “I got a picture and had a good chat. I told him about my first goal back and he took an interest in my injury and who I was playing for. Then I wished him all the best for the derby and told him how much it would mean to win it.
“It turned out to be an unbelievable weekend. Watching Burnley beat Blackburn on their own patch topped it off. I’ll remember this weekend for a while.”
Clitheroe travel to take on Ossett Town on Saturday, kick-off 3 p.m.