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McLaughlin experimenting in new Sports Science role

By Dan Simmonite | 12th August 2021

York City stalwart Paddy McLaughlin has earned himself the nickname ‘Mr Versatile’ this season after playing a key role in Steve Watson’s successful pre-season campaign whilst doubling up as part of the backroom staff, filling the role of Sports Scientist for the new season.

City go into this Saturday’s season opener against Kidderminster unbeaten after overcoming the likes of Newcastle United and Middlesbrough at home along with a 1-1 stalemate against Sunderland.

And Paddy has gained much praise over his performances in central midfield, earning two ‘man of the match’ accolades and excelling at left back in the Notts County victory last weekend – assisting Mark Beck for the second half equaliser.

Discussing his new role as Sports Scientist, McLaughlin said: “It’s been good, I’m enjoying it. It’s something I’ve always been interested in aside of playing football since I was a teenager really. So, I’ve always kind of seen myself going into to that side of football ideally when I do finish playing.

“To get the chance to combine the two roles at the minute, at such a young age for making that transition into the other side, but without impacting on my playing career, it’s just a good opportunity for me to get some experience and to really dip my toe into that world.”

Paddy joins Micky Cummins (assistant-manager) and Lewis Bulmer (Lead Sports Therapist) in Steve Watson’s backroom staff who work full-time to prepare the players before every fixture.

Explaining his dual-role, he said: “I’ll do the warmups and the activation work before we get going every day – it’s the stuff with the bands which I’m sure you’ve seen most teams using nowadays – it seems to be a big part of football.

“We are putting in strength sessions in the gym, hopefully getting them in at least once a week so we can ultimately have less injuries and make more robust athletes and more robust players that can cope with the demands of a long and tough season as it is especially at this level.”

“I provide bits of advice to lads on recovery and nutrition and a general support on the non-footballing side – the general football and conditioning side that goes alongside the actual football.”

Paddy’s new role doesn’t come without the relevant qualifications, the 30-year-old spent five years completing a distance learning degree which he started in 2014 whilst playing for Grimsby Town, graduating with a first-class honours in sport and exercise science.

“I was living by myself in a flat across there and I was coming home from training every day, watching TV, and thinking to myself – I need to do something a bit more productive with my life at the minute,” he explained.

“I looked into it, and I knew that courses were available through the PFA – they were absolutely fantastic on that side of things and I did a bit of research into it and found out there was a course available.

“It was a fairly long slog and there was plenty of times along the way where I thought - maybe I’ll just pack this in and take the easy option - but when I did finish, I graduated in 2019 and I was absolutely buzzing and proud of myself to have achieved that and now glad I have [a degree] behind me and can put it to good use.

“All footballers, no matter what level you play at, should always have something [extra] and one eye on what you are doing once you finish playing because it is a short career and it can end at any time.

“People like Clayton [Donaldson] are still going at 37 which is incredible but not everybody makes it that far and the time might come around sooner than people think – so it’s being prepared and having something that you can make that transition into.”

Paddy first joined City in 2011 upon his release from Newcastle United after four years in the Magpies’ U23s setup. He went on to play an integral part in the return to the Football League, scoring 13 goals from midfield and winning both the Conference Playoffs and the FA Trophy in the space of eight days in May 2012.

He went on to play for Grimsby Town, Harrogate Town (loan), Gateshead and Hartlepool before returning to his rightful place and becoming Steve Watson’s first signing after taking over as manager in January 2019.

Reflecting on his time at the club, he said: “This is a club that I have a lot of time for and a lot of affection for and as you said I’ve been here for a while now, I live in the city and it’s ideal for me.

“The lads as well have been really good and really receptive to me taking that step into the other side and over the summer it was something that I was, not worried about, but questioned whether I was going to get a few quips or witty remarks when I would try and explain what we are doing in a warm up or in a drill.

“But the lads have been great and have got their heads down and are on with everything I’ve asked them to do.”

Paddy may have taken a small step into life after playing football, but the Northern Irishman is fully focused on the season ahead.

He added: “Sports science is something I am passionate about and something I enjoy doing and that hopefully is the next step for me. And that’s not to say, by any means I’ve got any eye on finishing playing any time soon. I still feel fit and enjoy playing and I hope there’s another seven years in me like Clayton.”

He continued, speaking on plans for the upcoming season: “The goal for this club, there is no secret, it has to be promotion.”

“It’s been a few years now at this level and there will be other clubs in this league that fancy themselves to get promoted but we really have to be one of those clubs who are striving to get out of this division this year.

“On a personal note, I’d like to play as many games as possible and play as well as I can – hopefully everything else takes care of itself.

“From a staff point of view, it’s to get the lads fit and available and ready to play week in and week out.”

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