Mike Hine is the Head of Sports Science & Medicine at Lincoln City and has been with the club since 2016, seeing the team achieve two promotions in that time, but where did his journey begin before arriving at Lincoln and how did he find working alongside Danny and Nicky Cowley.
Like most young men Hine did play football and continued to do so right through university and only stopped after securing his first job in football which required him to work match days.
“I loved playing as a kid and even into my University years. I stopped playing Saturday football at 21, once a masseur opportunity came up at Southend United, which involved working on match days.
“From that point, my priority of working in football (as appose to playing) took over before eventually stopping playing at 27, last game was for Lincoln-based, Rustons United,” said Hine.
After deciding he wanted to work in football Hine began to focus his studies into sports science and in fact suffering an injury himself is what sparked his interest into the medical aspect of football.
“I went to college to study Sports Science and then did the same at University. I knew at this point I wanted to work in football in some capacity but wasn’t sure whether it was going to be sports science, nutrition, fitness, psychology, medical etc.
“I suffered some hamstring strains while I was playing for the University teams and having physio sessions sparked my interest in the medical aspect. I then went to London Metropolitan to study a masters in Sports Therapy,” Hine added.
After finishing his degree Hine began working as a self-employed physiotherapist before securing his first job in football at Southend United, as a sports massage therapist. Hine said;
“I was contacted by head physio Ben Clarkson, who had picked up my application, and spent the rest of the season working part-time under him.
“I have since faced him in opposition dug outs at games, which has been a bit surreal, all these years later. It certainly gave me the tunnel vision of working in pro football longer term.”
After a few months at Southend Hine found himself in a new position at Concord Rangers as Head Therapist meaning Hine was responsible for running the entire medical department something he had not experiences before.
“Being in the medical lead position was new to me, at any level this is a great experience. You learn how to manage different relationships/characters and make decisions without your tutors cushioning you in the background.
“It was very much, like being chucked in at the deep-end and as you know, you either ‘sink or swim’. I wasn’t prepared to ‘sink’,” said Hine.
His time at Concord is where Hine began his long working relationship with Danny and Nicky Cowley, this working relationship is what brought Hine to Lincoln almost four years ago, and as a physio Hine believes the working relationship with the management is crucial.
“You need to understand how each other work and trust each other.
“It takes time to develop such a relationship, but if it isn’t going to work you would probably find out sooner rather than later.
“You must understand the pressure they are under and support them as best as you can, they respect the decisions you make in return,” Hine added.
Hine worked with the Cowley brothers at both Concord and Lincoln before they departed for Championship side Huddersfield Town earlier this season and even lived with the management duo when they first moved to Lincoln.
“I think our alignment was key, in terms of work ethic and detail in what we do day-in, day-out. They wanted every detail examined and developed and we, as a department, want to be better every time we walk into the training ground.
“We understand that sports medicine is not an exact science, as do they. This would help us discuss and implement certain protocols and decide on injury management scenarios,” said Hine.
Throughout his time at Lincoln the club have achieved two promotions taking them into League One for the first time since the 1998/99 season, around the club investments have been made and Hine has seen his medical department develop massively in a short space of time. Hine said;
“We have evolved dramatically from the initial provision in the conference. Equipment, facility and staffing enhancements have been significant.
“Having core staff that have been here throughout the process has meant good continuity as well as fantastic additions who play a massive part in the players’ welfare every single day.
“The board have always backed us in terms of bringing in game-changing equipment and we have built a fantastic network of consultants and practitioners on the football circuit.
“We have and will always aim to provide a service to the players that is greater than the level that the club competes in, always prepared for the next level – when it comes.”
For the first time in a number of years Hine is working under a new manager in Michael Appleton and Hine is enjoying every moment working alongside the new boss.
“It’s been a very enjoyable few months with Michael in charge. He wants us to continue working hard and implementing the sports science and medical provision that has served us so well up to now.
“Michael likes us to lead and be decisive on matters related to our field. With less negotiation and debate over the injury matters, he is keen for us to problem solve and then relay information back to him, while he concentrates on the football.
“He, like Danny/Nicky, understands and respects the part we play in the football department and supports everything we do,” Hine said.