It seems the latest health spa trend is to have your crusty feet chewed over by a pool of live fish.  Never ones to miss a trick, Blackburn Rovers are offering fans their own foot pedicure.

What many people don’t know is Rovers have been using something similar for many years.  Their Brockhall training ground has always had its own spas and swimming pools.  They also have their own fish farm in the nearby River Ribble.  Some years ago, after a pollution scare, it seemed a good idea to hatch their game fish in one of the players’ swimming baths.  One particularly sadistic manager also penalised players who let him down by making them bathe with the salmon, trout and smelt.  Sadly the latter word could also have dual meaning after this punishment.

It was noticed at the time how these junior fish used to flock straight to the players feet.  Other parts of the body were avoided in favour of feet.  It was thought the dead skin around here attracted them, providing a ready meal.  Something similar to humans eating pig’s trotters or chicken skin.  After a few weeks, these mature fish were re-introduced to the Ribble, becoming much prized by anglers and restaurants.  It seems they were easy to catch after eating players’ corns and calluses.  They used to miss fish ladders by a mile.

Rovers decided to specialise in more effective fish treatment after several experiments.  Game fish are not really fit for the purpose.  A toothless member of the carp family called Garra Mowful is a natural scavenger, feeding on dead skin.  In the Middle East they have been used for centuries to heal wounds and treat skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, plus a host of other ailments.  In Japan a fish called Chin Chin is also used in a similar way.

There has been some opposition to the treatment.  Disease has been mentioned.  Worries about enthusiastic fish drawing blood and spreading HIV/AIDS have been dismissed.  Rovers say the water – and fish – in their tanks is changed every session.  This came about after insistence from the players.  They are well known for always complaining about the shoals of their feet.

Animal rights activists have called on people to boycott this practice.  They say eating calluses is callous.  Rovers say:  ‘Is letting fish do what comes naturally abuse?  They’re talking a load of codswallop.’

A Rovers fan who gave the treatment a try thought it was vastly overrated and would have preferred to have eaten the fish battered, with chips.

He said:  ‘I think we’ve underestimated the ‘scale’ of this whole experience!’


Please be aware that any information given in this article should in no way be used to replace advice given to you by your medical practitioner. Anybody suffering from a medical condition or who is at all concerned should always consult their chiropodist or doctor before booking a fish pedicure appointment, or watching Blackburn Rovers.