“It was a fantastic feeling” said Pervin-Davies when asked about the goal. “To come on and give our team a 1-0 lead was just a dream comeback for me. I never thought that I was going to come on as a substitute and score after 2 minutes. I think I felt every emotion all at once!”
It was the perfect culmination of a long road to recovery for Pervin-Davies, who had been side-lined for more than a year through the ACL injury. The rupture happened towards the end of the first session of pre-season: “I cut around the outside of two of my team mates with the ball and heard the dreaded pop in my knee. I knew as soon as I went to ground that it was bad. I’d had knocks before but nothing like this, it was painful and, though I hoped I was wrong, I just knew I was out for the long haul.”
She also says that one of the biggest pop stars on the planet had a part to play in her injury. “Something that wasn't amusing at the time but does make me smile now is that I blame the Beyoncé concert! Almost everyone was five minutes late to training due to the concert causing traffic in and around Cardiff, so we stayed an extra five minutes to make up for it, and that's when it happened!”
Having been initially told to do 6-8 weeks of physio without having surgery after having an MRI scan, Pervin-Davies returned to training. “I was able to do most things but I plateaued and couldn't progress, so my physio referred me back to my surgeon explaining I'm unable to reach a suitable level to return to sport. That’s when the decision was made for me to have ACL reconstruction surgery using my hamstring graft.”
That took place in February, and the midfielder said that post surgery recovery was tough. “The first 2-3 weeks I think is the worst physically. It is surprising how weak you become after surgery, I'd lost so much muscle in my leg, sleeping was horrible, very uncomfortable and I was having very severe muscle spasms in my hamstring. Later on down the line I started aiming to get full range of motion in my leg and keep the swelling down. Lots of elevating ice and compression.
She also told us about the mental side to recovery. “I think 2-3 months in is when I started to struggle mentally. It's tough on the mind. I’ve had many lows along the way but you just have to push through them. Recovery is constant. That's why it's so difficult, you have no rest from it. If you're not training then you're battling with yourself mentally to help motivate and push you to where you need to be.
Having completed her ACL advanced rehab program and been cleared to return to competitive football, Pervin-Davies admitted to feeling nervous in the morning before Sunday’s game, but also excited to be back as part of the squad. “I wasn't sure if I would get game time but I just prepped as any player would. I made sure that if my coach called me I was ready to step on that pitch. I was very nervous, the game was competitive and tight, it was still 0-0. I just remember telling myself not to make a mistake when I get on the pitch, just relax and give the team my best effort.”
Coming on and opening the scoring, Pervin-Davies paved the way for Cyncoed to claim all three points, teammate Caitlin Bevan wrapping up the win with two quick goals. Pervin-Davies was obviously delighted to get on the scoresheet, but maintains the win was the most important thing: “I just wanted us to get the 3 points and we did. It was a great day for me but also for the team, a big win to set us up for our next fixture away to Rhyl.”
As for the season ahead, Pervin-Davies said she is “looking forward to getting better and better in my recovery, I still have a lot to work on. It's a long process and I'm just taking small steps forward to get to where I need to be.” And as for the team? “We will all be working hard in training. We need to stay focused and hopefully achieve more wins just like we did on Sunday.”
Cyncoed travel north to face Rhyl on Sunday, kick-off 14:00