September 13 2005
Ali Johnson suffered a serious neck injury while playing in a National League 3 North fixture for Tynedale against Fylde in October 2004. Since that date, Ali has been confined to intensive care, and is currently undergoing an immense amount of rehabilitation work.
Although he still has no movement below the neck, his optimism in the face of this is quite remarkable, and is still determined that he will one day walk again.
The National League 3 North teams have all done sterling work in raising funds to help take care of Ali for as long as he needs it. The people at Tynedale have also set up a site - "Supporting Ali" - to help give information on Ali's recovery, and of course to raise funds.
RFU Press Release 01/12/2008
Rugby Football Union President Brian Williams tonight paid tribute to the courage of Tynedale rugby player Ali Johnson, who died today after suffering a stroke last week.
The 28-year-old Northumberland farmer suffered a broken neck playing Rugby for Tynedale at Fylde in 2004 and has since been adjusting to life following the problems created by a dislocated vertebrae and a damaged spinal cord, a burden he has handled with enormous bravery and good humour.
"My thoughts and those of all the Rugby Union fraternity at this sad time are with his family," said RFU President Brian Williams: "Ali was obviously a very special lad who has shown immense courage in dealing with his problems.
Throughout his difficulties, he never lost his love of rugby and made trips to Twickenham and Kingston Park to watch England and the Falcons, as well as to Tynedale, where he remained in close touch with his many friends and former teammates.
"The amount of support he received from Tynedale RFC in particular was immense and a testament to the calibre of the lad and the affection with which he was held at the club. I know how much his friends within the game and outside it in the North East did to help him in difficult circumstances and my sympathies go out to them at a time when they will be deeply saddened by Ali's tragic passing."
The RFU's pastoral care team have been in regular touch with Ali's family at Haltwhistle and even on the day of his stroke last week, Sports Injury Administrator Dave Phillips was at the family home discussing the next stage of a house-building project for Ali at the family farm.
Said RFU Leisure Rugby Manager Alan Black, who has kept in constant touch with Ali and his family since 2004: "What impressed me was his courage and his bravery and the cheerful approach he managed to adopt throughout his difficulties."