Campbell Relieved Just to Be Alive for Rovers' Return to Pittodrie

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Byline: by BRIAN MARJORIBANKS

THE date was February 16, 2010, and a night of high drama was being played out at Pittodrie, where Raith Rovers striker Gregory Tade scored the only goal of the game to send Aberdeen crashing out of the Scottish Cup.

If the Frenchman and the First Division club's supporters will never forget that occasion, neither will Dons boss Mark McGhee, who was spat upon by hate-filled home fans after what he admitted was the worst result of his long managerial career.

It's an evening which will always be remembered by Raith captain Mark Campbell, too, albeit not for reasons as trivial as a football match. Just 24 hours before the game, Campbell had survived a horrifying brush with death in a car crash which left him with serious chest and leg injuries.

As the 32-year-old listened to radio coverage of the game from his hospital bed 170 miles away in Kilmarnock, he wasn't reflecting on the personal misfortune of missing out on an exciting cup run. Instead, he was thinking about how lucky he was to be alive and how the date of his team's dramatic win marked the first day of the rest of his life. Tonight, the popular defender will travel up the A90 with the Rovers party as they return to Pittodrie in the Co-operative Insurance Cup.

And, although it is still too early on his road to recovery for him to play a part, Campbell still considers himself an extremely lucky guy. The former Ayr and Falkirk player, who had to be cut from the wreckage after another vehicle smashed headlong into his car, told Sportsmail: 'Yes, I'll be travelling up to Pittodrie with the boys, unlike in February.

'The last time, I was in hospital listening to the game on the radio but even though I'll miss playing in this match, too, I know I'm the lucky one to walk away from an accident like that.

'I had a 23cm gash in my left knee, with a chipped patella. I had another gash in my head which required nine stitches, as well as a lot of bumps and bruises. Since then, my right knee has taken the strain to compensate for my left one being hurt.

'I can't actually remember much about the crash, as I was knocked unconscious on impact. But, when I woke up, the car was a mess.

'I don't like to dwell on it, really.

I'm just happy to be here. Things were really put into perspective that day.' Last week, Campbell made his long-awaited Rovers return with a 45-minute run-out against the Cowdenbeath reserves, but there is still a long way to go. …