The 24-year-old sustained a knee injury just five minutes into the Galashiels side’s first game of this Scottish Lowland Football League season, a 3-0 home defeat by East Stirlingshire, and needs surgery before he’ll be able to play again.
It’s not known how long he’d have to wait for an operation on his torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial meniscus at a National Health Service hospital but it could be years rather than months, so team-mates and club officials are rallying round to try to raise enough money to pay for private surgery, expected to cost about £8,000.
Team captain Gareth Rodger said: “Due to waiting lists and a backlog of operations, as team-mates and friends of Ben, we want to do all we can to try and raise as much money towards a private operation to get him back on the pitch with us as soon as possible.
“Any extra funds over the operation’s cost raised will be donated to the Scottish Association for Mental Health.
“I’m sure everyone associated with Gala Fairydean Rovers would agree that Ben is not only a brilliant young football player but he is first and foremost a great guy and someone valued highly within the dressing room.
“Anyone who has played or currently plays football, or any sport part-time for that matter will understand how difficult it can be to get surgery or treatment for this type of injury.
“Helping raise funds for Ben will ensure he is able to get back to doing what he loves and get back playing as soon as possible.”
Herdman, of Kelso, told us: “I’ve seen a consultant and he had a look at it and told me to come back in three months’ time. I’ve got no idea how long I’d have to wait for an NHS operation but I’ve got a friend who suffered a similar injury and he’s been waiting since last December.
“If I could get surgery done privately, it would take about nine months to a year to get fully fit again afterwards.”
He’s determined to get back to playing and has been heartened by the support shown by all at Netherdale, he says.
Recalling the injury that ended his season in July, Herdman, at Gala since September 2015, said: “The ball got played over the top and I jumped up just to see it off the pitch and I landed badly and my knee just went. I knew straight away what had happened.
“It was only five minutes into the season, so that was very disappointing, and this was probably the season I was most ready for.”
This is the second time he’s sustained an ACL injury, the last time being six years ago to his right knee.
“I did the exact same thing to my other knee when I was 18 and I was out for 18 months that time,” he said.
Herdman is only just back at work now as a joiner and he’s hoping his return to that job will be followed as soon as is possible by a resumption of his duties in Rovers’ defence.
Rovers’ op appeal for the right-back is already 15% of the way to its target, having raised almost £1,900 so far.