Mcghee’s Alopecia Journey: The struggle to Jersey FA Call Up

Last week Logan Mcghee got called up to the Jersey FA squad after a very impressive season to date with Jersey Wanderers.

 

He has scored 18 goals in all competitions for the league leaders, and has caught Martin Cassidy’s attention, and deservedly bagging his first call up.

 

I spoke to the attacker about how proud he is of his call up, and also how he has Alopecia, and wants to help anyone in a similar situation by speaking out, and making such topics less of a taboo.

 

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Have you always played football?

Yes for as long as I can remember I’ve always had a football at my feet whether it be in the house smashing my mums favourite ornaments or the numerous football fun weeks I attended through the years. Even now any opportunity, such as a day down the beach I’ll take a footy with me!

 

Who was your footballing idol growing up?

Ronaldinho, Beckham and Rooney make the top 3. I used to love watching Rooney especially when United were at their best. He gave 100% passion every week guaranteed. Who can forget Beckham’s free kick against Greece too? However, Ronaldinho takes the top spot. When Ronaldinho was at his peak you would get the Spanish games on Sky and watch him play. He always had you stunned, a magician with the ball at his feet dare I say it. This is also when you used to get all the Nike, Pepsi and Joga Bonita adverts so it was always fun watching them and trying to hit the crossbar 3 times in a row (looking back now that video is so fake haha). Ronaldinho played every game with pure enjoyment and that’s what it’s all about.

 

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What was your favourite memory of your footballing youth days?

It’s got to be getting all the lads together and heading to Springfield for the day, which we would do most weekends and all through the summer without fail. It was almost from sunrise to sunset playing heads and volleys, runny inny, goalie goalie, World Cup doubles or if someone beat us to the pin we would play them for the court, first to 10 you couldn’t beat it. Spent about £2 a day buying a 5 litre bottle of water and a space baton (ice-pop) to keep me going!! From a competitive point of view I loved the battles between Trinity who I was at vs Wanderers. It was always a good battle but all good mates after the 90 minutes!! A stand out moment has to be my hat trick in the under 18 muratti (you all knew this was coming). I wasn’t best pleased that I was on the bench to be honest but who would be in footballs oldest rivalry, but when called upon I came on and scored a Hat-trick, chipping the penalty down the middle in Guernsey wearing a pair of Ronaldinho R10 footy boots. It is what dreams are made of (I still mention this in the pub after a few beers a couple times a year haha).

 

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When did you first find out you had Alopecia?

I remember I woke up one morning and I had a little gap of hair in my eyebrow and to be honest at first I just thought it was a bit random and that maybe an underlying spot was growing through but after a week the gap got a little bigger so I went to the doctors and after a few referrals and tests over a couple months period it was diagnosed as Alopecia Areata (patchy Alopecia).

 

For those who don’t know what exactly is Alopecia?

 

Good question and to be honest when I first got diagnosed I didn’t really have much knowledge on it. In simple terms it’s the partial or total absence of hair from the body parts where it usually grows! It’s when the body’s auto immune system mistakes hair follicles as foreign and decides to attack them which in turn causes the hairs to fall out.

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How did/does it affect you and was it hard at first?

 

It was a bit of a strange situation due to the hair falling out in stages and I must admit it affected me a lot more at the start than it does now. I remember at the start I was losing clumps of my hair daily. I was looking at my head and there were no bald spots so you can imagine it was a constant thought of what’s happening… is it falling out? Will it all fall out? But at the same time my hair was growing, I actually grew it out to shoulder length so a very bizarre situation where my hair was really thick but falling out and it eventually came to the point I was growing it out to cover over the bald spots that were starting to show. It wasn’t just a matter of being self conscious about the Alopecia, it was sore, like horrendously painful trying to sleep or wearing hats as it would literally pull the hair from the roots so that was a whole issue within itself. I’ve always been a confident person but having half an eyebrow and random bald spots all over your head is enough to knock anyone’s confidence and it wasn’t just the looks I remember interviewing for a new job role and I was thinking they would think I couldn’t handle stress and a lot of people used to ask me if I was stressed which was actually the only thing stressing me out as I’m quite relaxed about most things (alopecia can be caused by a number of factors which are not stress related) but this was the first time I really didn’t feel my most confident self. I even remember walking out the interview room backwards hoping they wouldn’t notice the back of my head. The best thing I’ve done with the alopecia is just let it run it’s course. I decided on the option to shave it all off and the more I shaved it the less and less it grew back till it stopped completely so it’s definitely got its positives I never have to shave anything and my skin is always really smooth which actually feels really nice.

 

What would be your advice to anyone that found out they had Alopecia?

 

Well each case is different. Some are more aggressive than others so any one individual might not need to take the same route I did. I think the best thing to do first is seek professional medical advice and source your options which is something I did at first but the constant applying of steroid creams and the thought of getting injections which might work or might not work, or might only be prolonging the process wasn’t for me. The amount of support I received once I just owned my alopecia was sensational, not only from my family as my mum and my brother have been there for me through no matter what. The same with my friends and now my girlfriend but I was receiving messages from all sorts of people saying I helped them become comfortable with their insecurities. This ranged from fellow alopecia sufferers, to people that had skin conditions, to men that were balding and I even had a couple of people with life threatening illnesses say they were inspired by me and to be honest that overwhelmed me more than I ever imagined. I always played it down like I’m just a bloke who shaved his head who was probably going to have to anyway but if sharing my story can help at least one person then that’s my job done. In summary my advice would be, and this goes for any condition you may have, seek professional advice in the first instance. Talk to friends and family, and if there is nothing you can do about it the more you normalise what you have, the less foreign it becomes to society. I feel there is greater number of people that understand what Alopecia is due to seeing me and me being so open (not that I have much choice I have no hair and micro bladed eyebrows) and I really hope by me explaining what Alopecia is the next person doesn’t have to. But sometimes away from Doctors you need to speak to someone who has been through what you are going through and really felt your emotions and there are numerous support groups but if anyone ever felt the need to reach out to myself whether it be Alopecia or a similar condition I would love to be able to help them be as comfortable with themselves and what they have as I am with mine. It’s got to the point where people tell me they prefer me with no hair or that ‘the new look’ suits me which is always nice to hear.

 

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You’re still playing football what’s the secret to your brilliant season so far?

 

I have always done quite well with football, from winning junior leagues and cups with a very good trinity side, to go on and won the Jersey league with Scottish when I was about 19/20, before winning a few cups whilst I was living in London in their top amateur league but I think this season I’ve really kicked on from a personal point of view. I was comfortable at Trinity and I loved playing for Trinity but I needed a change of scenery so I joined Wanderers and straight from pre-season it was a breath of fresh air. The fitness was nailed from the start, competition for places has been constant, with a good bunch of lads and to be honest I was fit so when we were playing I felt I could just keep getting forward and the more I did that the more I was getting in the box, the more the ball was falling to me and the more you score, leading to higher confidence levels, it’s a nice circle. Football is a team game and it sounds cliche but Wanderers have boys that score all over the pitch so the better the team plays the better it is for each individual. I think we will all say we haven’t achieved anything yet and I definitely feel that within myself I know I have my targets for the season but that comes second, but also coincides to the team achievements.

 

What’s it like playing at Wanderers?

 

The set up is great, with the pitch and clubhouse up at Wanderers it is up there with the best on the island. We get great numbers to training every week and everyone wants to be there and to improve as a player. We have the right people in the right places from management to the volunteers, to sponsors and I know it’s only amateur football but without all these people giving up their time and hard work to run the club the way they do football wouldn’t be the same. Aside from that it’s a very exciting time to be at Wanderers as we are well aware the league and Jeremie Cup haven’t been won for a number of years and that’s been our aim from the start. We have some very tough games all the way through to the end of the season and should we want to win anything this season we will need to be at our best every week as nothing is given this year! I think that has shown already this season, the uncertainty in local football has brought back the excitement I personally believe which is great!

 

10. You have been called up to the JFA squad – how special a moment is that for you?

 

In straight words I was buzzing!! It’s a very proud moment for me and I’m sure my mum too haha! It’s something everyone playing in the local Jersey league must want to strive towards and achieve! I know all the boys in the squad and I’ve received messages off the majority congratulating me. I’ve also received messages from family, friends, current team mates, old team mates and old managers so it just shows how much people value representing Jersey as a massive achievement. It is a great competition to be involved in and having a connection to the SAL combination, playing against their league winners and beating them in the final whilst playing for Old Parmiterians in the AFA league a few years back, it is an exciting prospect for me to potentially be involved in and making my debut. Hopefully we can get another win over the SAL but this time for Jersey FA and I know the lads will want to repeat the achievement of the Jersey side from a few years ago by going all the way and representing the English amateur side.

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11. Are you hoping to push on and maybe even get in the Bulls and Parishes squads?

 

Honestly my main focus this season has been on Wanderers, playing for them and enjoying my football, like I said earlier, although there is a lot of work to be done. It is a very exciting time to be at Wanderers, being in the final of a cup that hasn’t been won for nearly 50 years and also being in the title race for the league which hasn’t been won for nearly 30 years. It’s down to us to change that as a squad and for me as a part of that. Growing up the biggest achievement in Jersey football was the Muratti and being born a bean to me the Muratti is the top goal. It’s something I would love to play in before I hang up the boots so I’ve just got to keep playing my best and hopefully these opportunities arise. I think if I said I wouldn’t like to be involved with the Bulls at some point whether it be this season or in the future I might be swaying from the truth. I was a massive fan of the formation of the Bulls from the start and they have a great squad, and seeing the support they receive every week along with the incredible run they are on is remarkable and I am sure a lot of players would like to be involved. I’m happy for all my mates currently in the Bulls squad playing so well and really enjoying the experience, and I’m glad for everyone involved that it’s hit off as well as it has as Jersey was really getting left behind in Guernsey’s shadow and no one wants that. It’s a great time to be involved with Jersey football with the Jersey FA, the Bulls and the Parishes of Jersey all having matches coming up and seeing the managers of each squad covering almost every league game they can, it shows that they are giving the lads playing football in Jersey, whether it be locally or for the Bulls, the best possible chance at the possibility of being part of one of these squads.

 

 

 

It was great to chat with Logan, and I hope this interview helps others to talk about anything going on in their life to family and friends!

 

Good luck to Logan and the rest of the lads representing Jersey FA next weekend, lets get a big crowd down to support the boys!

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