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"The whole city has such a buzz" - Paddy McLaughlin on York City's success

Paddy McLaughlin is reflecting on a momentous season for York City and himself.

“Personally, this season has been great,” the midfielder says. “After leaving Newcastle and the uncertainty about whether this was the right career move for myself last year, I am so glad to have played so many games, which is what I set out to achieve and obviously to get promoted.

“For the club, I am delighted it was massive for York and what it means to the city. The day after we won the play-offs we had an open top bus parade and there were probably around 10,000 fans on the streets; it was unbelievable.

“The whole city has such a buzz. I think everyone associated with the club believes that its eight year absence from the Football League was far too long, but we are back now.”

McLaughlin (pictured) played at Wembley twice in one week. “Although we obviously set out to win the league, the play-offs were a good way of gaining promotion. Any footballer would take that and get a trip to Wembley out of it.

“We played there twice in eight days so it became like a home ground for us. The first game was about taking in the surroundings and the big occasion but the second time we were used to it.

“It is a great achievement and I am really lucky to have been one of the few footballers to have done that this season. Our attitude this season has been about digging deep, grinding out results and never say die; the promotion summed that up perfectly.

“When playing at Wembley you just have to prepare yourself like it is any other game and try to keep everything as normal as possible. I try to follow my normal pre-match routine: sitting by myself, getting my thoughts together and dealing with the butterflies.

“It is not until afterwards that you really realise what is involved and you feel the real buzz and excitement. It is what most footballers dream of and to stand in the centre circle and take it all in is incredible. You have to allow yourself time to not let it pass you by,” he says.

Playing the right football 

At York City, McLaughlin is managed by former Nottingham Forest European Cup winner Gary Mills. McLaughlin talks fondly about his boss: “Gary Mills is brilliant as both a man and a coach. He is very easy to get on with and as a manager he has got a great footballing brain, puts confidence in his players and is a pleasure to work with.

“He believes in us and plays a type of football that I love and suits me; it is nice to play in his team and pass the ball along the floor. Knowing what Mills has achieved in the game defiantly spurs you on and inspires you.

“I have pinched myself on numerous occasions because he is a European Cup winner and I can learn so much from him. Although he did say that getting us promoted came a close second to his European exploits.”

When asking McLaughlin what he thought of the play-offs as a way of deciding promotion, he said: “Obviously I am biased as I have achieved success at the play-offs but it is such a cruel way of losing out on promotion. For the winner it is obviously great.

“Everyone wants to win the league and so it gives more teams an opportunity for success. It is the next best thing. It is also a special occasion for all the fans, players and their families; a unique experience, whether you win or lose.”

He turns his attention to the new season. “I always hope to try and improve on the previous season and progress on what I have achieved before. Yes, we won two trophies this season but I don’t see why we cannot win any this season and there is no reason why we cannot gain back to back promotion.

“Personally I would like to play more games and score more goals. In five years time I hope to keep improving and progressing, to go as high as I can in the footballing world and continue to test myself against the best.”

McLaughlin reflects on his time since the play offs: “I am just coming to the end of a three week break in which I have done nothing since the play-off final. I have relaxed and eaten a lot but I am now itching to get underway again. I start on Monday trying to get back into shape and fitness ahead of the start of pre-season in July.”

Runaway Premier League

McLaughlin and I then discussed the impact of the Premier League on the lower leagues. “I believe that the Premier League is getting out of hand with its wages. It is getting silly now and where does it stop?

“It continually increases and I cannot see an end to it unless you were to bring in a wage cap. Obviously the lower clubs will continually struggle if something is not done.

“England has a history of a very strong divisions right the way through to even the conference, but I just feel that everyone should to some extent be on a level playing field.

“Obviously the Premier League has hindered the football league due to its massive gulf, but I’m not too sure if it will completely end the FL. To get into the FL you have to work hard and playing well at FL level can take you a long way.

“Obviously everyone’s dream is to play Premier League football and I don’t think it’s out of reach for football league players. For example, look at Steve Morrison.”

We move onto how McLaughlin got into football. “Since I could walk I have been able to kick a football and always been football mad,” he says. “My granddad took me to play for the local club on a Saturday morning and I have not really stopped since then. Since I was five years old I have played and never looked back.

“I am a massive Manchester United fan and so I have always admired George Best, but during the 90s and 00s I admired Roy Keane and David Beckham. Nowadays I look at Xavi, Iniesta and Zidane as they all make the game look so easy and play football that I admire.”

“Of all the coaches I have worked with, my dad who coached me at under 10 and 11 level has helped me the most in my career.

“I have always taken his advice on board and, although he has never played professional football himself, he knows what he is talking about. Even to this day, and into the future, I listen to him and take his advice.”

By Claire Needham

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