One tough Cookie
TORN ligaments, multiple fractures to bones surrounding the knee and a four millimetre compression to the tibia. And Graham Cook was only the referee! The prognosis? No running for 12 months and possibly never again. This was the case facing the Lismore rugby union referee last March when he collided with two players during a representative fixture between Western Plains and New England in Armidale. Cook, one of the Far North Coast's best whistle-blowers, was floored by the pain and had thoughts that his 19-year refereeing career was over. However, a lengthy and strenuous rehabilitation regime has allowed the accountant to overcome the damage and get back onto the field. He is even back in first grade and was the man in the middle during Lismore City's thrilling last minute 10-3 victory over Wollongbar on Saturday. "I've been back refereeing for four or five rounds but I only just came up to first grade," Cook said. "It's been frustrating sitting on the sideline but it (the injury) definitely showed me that I am too young to retire from refereeing. The game at the weekend was so enjoyable." If you had asked Cook a few months ago if he would be back refereeing in July he would have laughed at you. The 43-year-old was in a great deal of pain with the main concern the bone compression of his tibia where the top of his knee bone had smashed into the bottom of his knee bone. "I knew I was in trouble when all the talk was about the bone damage and the ligament damage seemed rather unimportant," Cook said. "But the operation went well and I've recovered pretty quick because I was pretty fit when it happened. "It's great to be back."