BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
DECLAN GALLAGHER admits he has become the butt of the joke among his merciless Livingston teammates after the bizarre attempt to patch up the big defender went viral.
However, he hopes to have the last laugh the Lions face Partick Thistle on Thursday night.
Gallagher, 27, had to leave the field for treatment in the second half of their fraught play-off semi-final against Dundee United after a nasty knock to the face drew blood.
With their promotion dream tantalisingly balanced, physio Andy MacKenzie prioritised speed over style and wrapped a bandage across his face, via the bridge of the nose.
It drew chuckles from those in the BT Sports studio before screengrabs began to do the rounds online. He has been unable to live it down, with teammates vandalising his picture in the dressing room, sending photoshopped snaps and even posing for a squad photo with them all sporting the tape.
Gallagher said: “It wasn’t a serious injury, but it was a cut from my ear to my cheek and it just wouldn’t stop bleeding, so I had to get it sorted.
“I don’t even remember getting it done. I just remember running over to the sidelines and saying ‘hurry up, hurry up’ and the physio saying ‘I’m going as fast as I can!’
“In the end he just said ‘I’ll just wrap it around your head – but you’ll not be able to hear a thing’. I just wanted to get back out there and wasn’t really bothered what I looked like.
“We’ve all got pictures of all the players in the changing room and the boys have already put a bandage across the face of mine – so I’ve actually got that looking back at me all the time now!
“I’ve just left it up there because all the lads seem to get a wee laugh out of it and it’s been decent banter all week after that. I’m happy for the fans and the players to have a wee laugh at my expense.
“I’ve been getting bombarded with pictures – Spongebob with tape around his face, me mocked up a wrestler with that as a mask – but I can laugh about it now since we got through the tie.”
Popular Livi physio MacKenzie has not escaped ridicule following the slapdash running repairs.
Gallagher added: “Andy has been taking pelters actually, which is a bit harsh. It all came from how much pressure I was putting on him to get me back on the park.
“If I hadn’t been shouting at him, I think he would have done a better job! He’s taking it well, though, and it’s all good for the camaraderie ahead of a big game.”
Although it was Gallagher who was in the wars in their last outing, it is Livi’s opponents who have often felt battered and bruised this term, with the Lions garnering criticism in some quarters for a perceived over-physicality.
However, Gallagher is unapologetic for their style and insists it is intensity and work ethic, rather than direct football, is the key to their success this term.
He continued: “There has been quite a lot said about our style and the way we play our football, but we mix it up.
“When you get a system that seems to be working, why change it? Just because other people don’t like it? People can have a go, but if it’s getting results and we are progressing, then it’s obviously right for us.
“Not many teams enjoy coming here and I don’t think it’s anything to do with being a long ball team. It’s because we have a spirit, a game-plan and we are all grafters. I think that’s what is hard for teams to play against.”
And Gallagher is adamant Livi can enjoy the occasion, with nothing to lose over the next two matches, after conceding the notion of a promotion push at the start of this season was quite literally laughable.
He added: “If you had told the boys before a ball was kicked they would be in the play-off final then we would have probably had a laugh about it, however as the season has gone on we have all grown in confidence. The lads are all just buzzing for this chance. The pressure is off us.”