Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Tune way army prompts York City harmony
PADDY McLaughlin believes York City’s pre-season trip to Rutland can prove just as fruitful as their last visit.
Twelve months ago, following his summer move from Newcastle United, McLaughlin’s acclimatisation into the City squad was accelerated by the four-day Midlands break with his new team-mates.
The training camp was seen as a key component to the club’s subsequent successful start to the 2011/12 season, ultimately culminating in a Wembley double of FA Trophy and Blue Square Bet Premier play-off final glory.
Following Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Grantham Town, described as “poor” by manager Gary Mills, McLaughlin feels the team will now reap the benefits from the rest of their mini tour, which takes in a behind-closed-doors clash with a Leicester City XI today.
Saturday night was spent listening to the new summer signings belting out songs as part of the Minstermen’s initiation process under Mills with Michael Coulson performing a rendition of Tony Christie’s Is This The Way To Amarillo? and John McReady also being uncovered as a Backstreet Boys fan.
While relieved not to be in charge of the mic this summer, McLaughlin reckons the custom has helped engender the team spirit credited with bringing promotion to the club last season.
Reflecting on Saturday’s match, pre-season so far and the positive impact of the training camp, the Northern Ireland Under-21 international said: “Saturday’s match wasn’t great.
“We were a bit off the pace and did not show what we are all about. We did not win the ball much or pass it very well and, while the pitch was not the best, you come across surfaces like that all the time.
“The first half against Oldham wasn’t great either but we did a lot better in the second and we then played well at Gateshead.”
Added the midfielder: “Saturday was a step back but I am sure we will put it right, especially with the new lads having the chance to bed in more during our few days away together.
“It certainly helped me although I remember feeling nervous after the Quorn match last year because Saturday night is ‘singing night’ for the new lads. I sang Mustang Sally but I was glad this time that they were in my shoes and I could just sit back, relax and enjoy myself.
“They are all good lads and players though who bring their own qualities and stamp on things.”
McLaughlin has also been enjoying himself in front of goal during pre-season, finding the net more times than any of his team-mates with Saturday’s 30-yard blockbuster at Grantham his fourth during City’s warm-up programme.
The Larne-born midfielder, who hit the target 13 times last season, believes his current free-scoring form bodes well for when the new campaign starts with the Capital One Cup trip to Doncaster Rovers a week on Saturday.
He said: “It’s always nice to see the ball hitting the back of the net and, even in the matches I haven’t scored in, I should have done, and to find myself in scoring positions is promising as well.
“I think that’s a good sign and I hope I can carry that into the new season. I just don’t want to use all my goals up before then but, if I can keep getting into good areas, I could improve on last season’s total.”
Penalties have swollen many a scorer’s tally in the past but, while admitting he would fancy his chances from 12 yards if needed, McLaughlin feels Jason Walker , who failed to convert from the spot for the third time in six attempts for City at Grantham, is still the right man for the job.
He said: “There are a few of us who fancy ourselves on penalties and you never know but it’s pre-season and I’m sure Jason will be taking them during the season. He didn’t make too many mistakes last season and I fancy him to take the next one and stick it in.”
Being a former Newcastle apprentice and reserve-team player, McLaughlin is now relishing the Minstermen’s next two friendlies at Bootham Crescent with Saturday’s David McGurk benefit match against Middlesbrough being followed by a clash against fellow north-east rivals Sunderland three days later.
“As I’ve always done, I enjoy playing against those sides,” he confessed. “You also always enjoy playing good opposition in terms of Championship and Premier League clubs.
“They will be good tests for us ahead of the new season. Middlesbrough will be a good game for TY and I hope we get a good crowd down there for him and put on a decent performance.”