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Paddy McLaughlin shines in York City’s glorious campaign
YORK City midfielder Paddy McLaughlin has insisted that being dropped for the Blue Square Bet Premier final against Luton Town did not tarnish an “unbelievable” season for him.
McLaughlin was a shock omission from Gary Mills’ Wembley team against the Hatters with only goalkeeper Michael Ingham and James Meredith having featured in as many games as the Northern Ireland Under-21 international during the 2011/12 campaign.
With the dead rubber last game of the regular season against Forest Green the only exception, McLaughlin also started 11 of the club’s 12 matches prior to the promotion decider, including the 2-0 FA Trophy final victory over Newport at the hallowed home of English football.
Displaying a maturity that belies his 21 years, though, the former Newcastle United reserve accepted his manager’s decision with grace, saying: “The gaffer came to me on the morning of the game and explained why I wasn’t in the team and stuff so fair play to him for that.
“It was obviously a disappointment because everybody wants to play as many games as possible and start every one but it was just one of those things. I wasn’t in the team that the gaffer picked for that particular game and had to take that on the chin.
“I suppose it worked in the end because we got the victory but I played in the majority of games and was just unlucky to miss out on that one. It won’t spoil an unbelievable season for me though.”
McLaughlin is now concentrating on looking forward and, having arrived at Bootham Crescent last summer from the Toon Army without a senior game under his belt, is hungry for more success with the Minstermen.
He said: “I won the Northumberland Senior Cup for Newcastle reserves in front of maybe a thousand people or something like that a year ago. So to end the last season at Wembley, in front of 20,000 for one final and then 40,000 for another, is on a different level.
“It’s a different type of football. It means a lot more and I feel like I am a proper professional footballer now.
“It’s been a dream first season and, hopefully, there’s a lot more to come. If I could have 15 or 20 seasons like the last one, it would be absolutely unbelievable.
“There’s the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and all sorts to go for next season. I wouldn’t mind drawing Newcastle in the League Cup or, better still, Manchester United because I’m a big fan so fingers crossed and let’s hope for the best.”
McLaughlin finished his maiden first-team campaign as City’s third top scorer on 13 goals and was also second in the assists table – just one behind Ashley Chambers.
Commenting on his progress during 2011/12, the former Magpie added: “I set out to achieve what I have done because I wanted to play as many games as possible and set my sights on double figures for goals.
“But words can’t really describe how it feels to do that and come away with two winners’ medals. That exceeded my expectations.”
For the majority of the season, McLaughlin was also the mainstay of a midfield triumvirate that had to adapt following the departure of Andre Boucaud for Luton and Scott Kerr’s knee ligament injury.
The likes of defensive trio Meredith, Lanre Oyebanjo and Dan Parslow were all utilised alongside McLaughlin at different times and, talking about how City’s engine room evolved, the latter said: “Myself, Boucs and Kerry started the season and the understanding we had was unbelievable and something I have never experienced.
“After Boucs left and Kerry got his injury, the other players like Lanre, Mez and Pars all slotted in well and they are an easy set of lads to play with. We all get on well and know our strengths and weaknesses.”
McLaughlin also believes City’s attractive style of play can help them to compete at the top end of League Two next season.
He said: “We like to get the ball down and pass and I think we will thrive the higher we play because the standard of football gets better as you go up through the leagues.
“We have a great squad with a great team spirit and I don’t see why we can’t get out of the next league because Stevenage and Crawley have done it so why not us?”
Walker’s sensational overhead kick against Grimsby was the Premier Sports Goal of the Season, while Blair won Sportsbeat Young Player of the Year.