Physio Jeff has a foot in both camps

South Wales Argus: Jeff Hemmerman in his Newport physio clinic Jeff Hemmerman in his Newport physio clinic

JUST about the whole football world now knows Cardiff City are taking on Portsmouth in tomorrow's FA Cup final at Wembley - but hardly anyone realises that right in our midst is someone who played for the two clubs and was leading scorer for both of them!

That is the unique distinction held by Jeff Hemmerman, who has been a physiotherapist in Newport for the last 22 years, treating patients for the kind of injury which ended his career.

Born in Hull, Hemmerman spent four years with Pompey under legendary former Eng-land captain Jimmy Dickinson and then Frank Burrows, hitting the back of the net frequently at Fratton Park.

He was leading scorer with them in season 1978-79 with 16 goals and helped secure promotion from Division Four before joining Cardiff City in a move described as their best bargain for many years.

He top scored for the Bluebirds as well, scoring 26 goals in 1982-83, 22 in the league and four in the cup.

Probably the sweetest of those came in late October 1982 when he got the only goal in a 1-0 victory against Portsmouth.

In a comment reminiscent of the cup final contest Hemmerman said at the time: "There were a dozen clubs I could have gone to, I chose Cardiff not for the money but because they offered the best prospect of going up. If we continue to win matches and I carry on scoring we will be up there with Portsmouth at the finish."

Hemmerman was awarded a testimonial in December 1984 when a Cardiff City XI played Aston Villa.

After hanging up his boots he went into physiotherapy, treating, among others, golfers of the calibre of Phil Price and Paul Mayo (he plays off eight himself at Newport Golf Club).

"When I was playing for Cardiff I kept a house on in Portsmouth, but when I badly injured a knee I went to the naval hospital at Gosport," he recalled.

"I had tried physiotherapy before, then I did one-and-a-half years there and went back on a three year course.

"I feel I had the best training in the world.

"I did some time with Glamorgan cricket club, then started my own business in 1986-87 in Newport.

"Though I joined Cardiff I lived in Newport to be a bit nearer Portsmouth and I set up my own clinic."

Now the wheel has turned full circle with the City-Pompey cup final, and Hemmerman will be at Wembley having acquired a couple of tickets from Portsmouth - Cardiff City didn't even reply to his letter.

Despite that he said: "They're my favourite clubs and I had really happy times with both. I had four really good years at Portsmouth and when I go back I get treated really well whereas I can honestly say Cardiff don't encourage you to go back. But I've got great memories of both, they've both got fantastic fans."

So who does the 53-year-old former star with both clubs think will win the coveted trophy tomorrow?

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, he replies: "I'm sitting on the fence, but it'll go to penalties, then it's anybody's.

"Everyone should put £10 on it going to penalties - if it doesn't they can come to my clinic and I'll knock it off their first treatment session!"

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