James McQuillan remains in critical condition

ALBURY Tigers footballer James McQuillan, 20, remains in a critical condition after he suffered suspected spinal injuries in Saturday’s abandoned Ovens and Murray match against Yarrawonga.

McQuillan was left without feeling in his legs after colliding with Yarra-wonga’s Marcus Cummins seven minutes into the second quarter of the blockbuster clash at the Albury Sportsground.

In a league first, the match was called off and deemed a draw under section 10.6.2 (b) of the AFL’s rules of the game handbook.

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McQuillan, who was taken from the ground by ambulance, was placed in an induced coma for safety reasons on Saturday night as he was flown to The Austin Hospital in Melbourne for further treatment.

His parents, Jack and Jo, said they were grateful for all the support they had received since the accident but the health of their son was their sole concern.

“Our focus at present is solely on the health and well-being of our son James,” they said.

“We know that he is in the best hands possible with the expert medical team at The Austin.

“We want to sincerely thank everyone so far who has played a part in caring for James in

Albury and Melbourne, and also the many well-wishers supporting us.

“We would greatly appreciate some privacy and understanding at  this incredibly difficult time.”

Albury president Gavan Schultz said everyone at the club had their fingers crossed.

“We are hopeful and praying for good news but also understand the seriousness of James’ injuries,” Schultz said.

“We appreciate the interest in James’ condition but we ask that the privacy of the McQuillan family and the members of the Albury Tigers Club are respected at this difficult time.”

Schultz said the collision involved no malice.

The club would not be referring the matter to the Ovens and Murray for review.

AFL North East Border general manager John O’Donohue is co-ordinating support services for all parties involved.

McQuillan’s injury capped a dark weekend for country football.

The Heathcote and District league clash between Elmore and Heathcote was also abandoned after Heathcote coach Grant Ford copped a knock in general play and hurt his neck.

Ford has since been released from hospital without significant injury.

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