ON the evening of Tuesday, February 5, 2019, Daniel Parslow returned to the York City starting 11.

Back in the side for the home clash against Hereford, he was excited about playing under new manager Steve Watson.

York took the lead after just nine minutes and later in the first-half, Parslow awaited a header from a goal-kick. He had done this countless times before.

As he went for the ball, he was caught on the side of the head by a striker’s stray elbow, with no malice intended. Again, this was not uncommon for an experienced defender.

He quickly returned to the field after undergoing the standard checks from the club physio but on this occasion something was different.

“Things went dramatically down hill,” Parslow recalls. “I couldn’t really see, I felt sick and was so uneasy on my feet. It was very unnerving actually because I’d never felt anything like it before.

“At this point, I knew I was in a bad way. It was close to half time so I was able to get into the dressing room, stumbling down.

“I hadn’t had a concussion before and it was clear at this point that this is what one felt like.”

Given that Parslow’s symptoms were delayed, he was allowed to return to the field where he then experienced his dizziness and nausea.

What could have resulted from suffering a second blow in that state “doesn’t bear thinking about” he says.

The point and force of contact of the incident left him bed-ridden for around two-and-a-half weeks.

“I was so sensitive to light, movement, everything really. I’d get up and have some food and then rest again,” Parslow explained. “I was exhausted and absolutely shattered.

“Later on, when I was trying to do exercise, I was just blacking out with dizziness. That’s when I knew that I was in a bad way.”

By the July, aged 33, Parslow accepted he could no longer play football and announced his retirement.

York Press: Daniel Parslow plays a pass against Luton Town in the Conference Premier play-off final at Wembley Stadium.Daniel Parslow plays a pass against Luton Town in the Conference Premier play-off final at Wembley Stadium.

It brought to an end a hugely successful career, particularly with York City, where he had won promotion to League Two, two FA Trophies and three Clubman of the Year awards. He ranks 10th in the club’s all-time appearance list too.

While no longer in the sport full-time, Parslow has become a vocal spokesperson for increased concussion measures.

The issue is one which has gained plenty of traction over recent months and, in January, the Premier League began its trial of permanent concussion substitutes, two months on from a clash of heads between Wolves’ Raul Jimenez and Arsenal’s David Luiz which saw the former fracture his skull.

However, football’s leading unions believe these measures “have fallen short of their objective and jeopardised player health and safety.”

They highlighted incidents where players were given on-field assessments, continued to play but then later showed concussion symptoms, including West Ham’s Issa Diop and George Baldock Sheffield United.

If Parslow’s incident were to be repeated under these current measures, little would have been different.

“Frustration,” replied Parslow when asked about his thoughts on these steps. “I think I see it as a box ticked for them, because of so many people calling for something to happen. They’ve done it half-heartedly, in my opinion.

“There is hard evidence that proves that concussion can be delayed, as it was in my instance. A physio and a doctor needs to assess a player within two minutes - which is all the time they get - while the match is going on. But that’s just not long enough.”

Campaigners like Parslow are hopeful of seeing temporary concussion substitutes introduced, allowing for a longer assessment by medical staff.

The rule may be similar to rugby league’s head-injury assessment (HIA) in which players are given a 15-minute window to be checked out, in which time a replacement can be brought on. That period also allows for a thorough assessment, away from the spotlight of a large crowd.

York Press: York City Knights' Marcus Stock sustains a head clash against Sheffield Eagles. Picture: Craig HawkheadYork City Knights' Marcus Stock sustains a head clash against Sheffield Eagles. Picture: Craig Hawkhead

If the player is fit to continue, they are free to return to the field without an interchange being counted.

Sports therapist Lewis Bulmer, currently of York City and formerly of York City Knights, is also in favour of such measures.

“I certainly think it needs to be trialled out as soon as possible and hopefully it will be passed on through the leagues,” he said.

“People might argue that it could be used for other injuries, but it can’t be because it’s down to the medical staff.

“Players could come back on if they do pass that HIA but if they do show symptoms, it means that you’re not using a full substitution, which will help teams.”

Also calling for the change are long-term advocates Headway, the country’s leading head-injury charity, for whom Parslow has previously fundraised for.

Luke Griggs, deputy chief executive for Headway - who have a branch in York - said: “If you are saying, ‘In two to three minutes, we’ll make the decision’, and you monitor their performance on the field, for all the time that they remain on the field, you are risking their health.

“If they were to have a second blow to the head, it would significantly exacerbate the impact of that injury.

“Having them off the field for a window in the appropriate confines of a changing room, where you can assess them for 10 to 15 minutes, you give them a better opportunity.

“It’s not foolproof and it’s not perfect, but it’s a far better solution, particularly when you’ve got a player from another country where there may be a language barrier.

“It simply doesn’t work, it has to change and FIFA, IFAB and the FA have to act on this before something really does go wrong.”

Even if temporary subs would only benefit a handful of players, that would surely be better than none at all.

Parslow has also called for a set limit to headers in training and baseline concussion tests and all these protocols may go some way to redressing the link between football and dementia.

Research by the University of Glasgow in 2019 showed that professional footballers are three-and-a-half times more likely to suffer from dementia than non-footballers.

The study looked at deaths from neurodegenerative disease among 7,676 professional Scottish footballers compared to that of a control group of 23,028.

The university found that a neurodegenerative disease was “the primary diagnosis on the death certificate” for 1.7 per cent of footballers compared to 0.5 per cent in the control group.

The then head of research at Alzheimer’s Society, Dr James Pickett, said: “This is the longest and largest study on dementia and football to date and clearly shows retired professional footballers are at increased risk of dementia.”

A Parliament committee inquiry was launched on this issue in March, but this is not a new concern. The death of ex-West Brom striker Jeff Astle was classified as an “industrial disease”, a coroner ruled, back in 2002.

The issue has gained prominence in the media after the revelations about the numerous England World Cup winners of 1966 suffering from dementia, including Sir Bobby Charlton, Jack Charlton and Nobby Stiles.

York Press: England's 1966 World Cup winners (right to left) Ray Wilson, Bobby Charlton, Nobby Stiles, Martin Peters, Jimmy Greaves and Jack Charlton. Picture: PA WireEngland's 1966 World Cup winners (right to left) Ray Wilson, Bobby Charlton, Nobby Stiles, Martin Peters, Jimmy Greaves and Jack Charlton. Picture: PA Wire

Parslow insisted: “People often say that footballs were heavier back then, but that’s just a myth. Heavier footballs travel at a slower speed and lighter footballs travel at a faster speed which causes just the same amount of force.

“This isn’t an issue about the past. I really do hope that these inquiries and the governing bodies put things in place now and that this doesn’t take years to implement as it affects players playing now.”

He concluded: “I just think it’s not for the people who make the decisions to have that much power to control something that has such an effect on someone’s career and livelihood.”

The FA guidance to all levels is that “footballers who sustain concussion, should immediately be removed from the pitch and not allowed to return until the appropriate treatment has been administered.”

This is in line with IFAB who believe that “where there is any doubt about a player having been concussed the players should be protected by being ‘permanently’ removed from the match.”