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Glucosamine & Chondroitin
Physio says 30-year career a joint effort
Remember this: Physio Neil Familton treats the knee of Southern Sting netball captain Bernice Mene in the
2002 National Bank Cup final in Invercargill.
Photo: BARRY HARCOURT
Still going strong: Windsor Street Physiotherapy principal Neil Familton is celebrating 30 years as a
physiotherapist in Invercargill.
Photo: LOUISE BERWICK
Who: Neil Familton of Windsor Street
Career highs: Southland Stags
All Blacks physiotherapist 1986-1987.
Maori All Blacks physiotherapist,
New Zealand secondary schools' rugby
team physiotherapist from 1988-1992.
Southern Sting physiotherapist from
By LOUISE BERWICK
Neil Familton has 30 years' worth of
stories to tell.
From the time he was part of the All
Blacks who won the inaugural 1987
Rugby World Cup, to when he
travelled half way around the world
with the Maori All Blacks, to being a
key cog in Southern Sting's netball
success --- Familton's stories are
impressive. And, so, too is his
successful physiotherapy career,
which he says would not have been
possible without the support of his
wife, Trish, and which this year sees
Familton celebrate 30 years at his
''You just keep getting better with
age,'' Familton said of his physio-
''The more you see, the better you get.''
The 54-year-old, who also has practices
in south Invercargill and Riverton,
was lured from Dunedin as a fresh-
faced physiotherapist and a keen
hurdler in his 20s because of the top
sporting facilities Invercargill offered.
After a year-long stint at Southland
Hospital, he moved into his own
private practice in Windsor in 1983.
For the past 30 years, he has juggled an
expanding business with being on the
sidelines of some of the nation's best
sports teams. But it all began with the
Southland Stags in 1983.
After several years as their team
physio, he scored the role of the All
Blacks' physiotherapist in 1986.
''I thought, 'I am just way too
inexperienced to be the All Blacks
physio. I will just tell them that I am
But soon after applying he was on the
sidelines of the 1987 Rugby World Cup
in New Zealand.
It was certainly a career highlight but
he maintains that it was one of many.
But a serious car accident at the end of
1987 meant Familton had to give up the
All Blacks' role. Not one to sit back, a
year later he became the physio for the
New Zealand secondary schools' rugby
team and the Maori All Blacks, who
toured Italy, France, Spain and
''We just had a ball. We didn't play a
whole lot of rugby, but it was a lot of
Balancing the two teams, as well as
looking after the Stags was a busy job,
and in 1996 he decided to end his
association with rugby.
It was not long until his phone was
ringing again though; this time it was
the Southern Sting, who went on to
become one of Southland's outstand-
ing sports teams.
Familton speaks passionately about
his time with the southern team, even
more so than with the All Blacks,
mainly because, initially, they were
the underdogs who practised in a tin
shed at the showgrounds, he said.
He gave up a lot for netball in the
decade he was involved.
''Once we played a game on the Friday
night, my wife came home with the
new baby on the Saturday morning,
and I hopped on a bus to Christchurch
that night for the next match.''
He admits his wife was very tolerant,
but they had ''a fantastic relationship
and great kids'' and that family
support had been ''paramount'' in his
While he's no longer the physio for
professional teams, you can still find
him braving the weather on Saturday
mornings, being the ''unofficial
physio'' for his youngest daughter's
''She's all go.''
As it has been for 30 years.
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