Devon footballer Steve Harris ended up being taken to hospital after being bitten by a spider.
Friends and team-mates of the Elmore Football Club player, thought he was having a laugh when he pulled out of the squad because of a spider bite!
But the 22-year-old defender from Dawlish , who plays for the Tiverton-based side in the South West Peninsula Premier League, was deadly serious.
It turned out he had been bitten by Britain’s most venomous spider – the false black widow – and had to undergo an emergency operation at Torbay Hospital.
He currently has an open wound where surgeons had to cut away the poison and has been told he cannot play football for at least three weeks.
Steve who was bitten in his sleep, said: “When I work up I had a pain in my side – a stinging feeling. I didn’t take that much notice until it started swelling and the pain got worse.
“It looked like a bite, although I didn’t know it was from a spider at the time. The area around the bite mark just ballooned and grew and grew. It was only when the area started to turn black, some four days after I first noticed the bite that I decided I ought to go to hospital.
“I went to Torbay Hospital and they instantly said I had been bitten by a spider – they said they had seen six other people attending with similar bites within the previous week. They told me the false black widow spider was the culprit.”
“They operated on me immediately and it took half an hour to cut away the area around the bite to get at the poison. I now have an open wound and have to wait for it to heal over.
“I was in agony. I have never had pain like that before in my life. It’s still very painful now. I still can’t sleep properly and find it virtually impossible to get in and out of a car.”
His mates still thought he was pulling their leg and it was only when he showed them a photo of his open wound that they believed him.