An eagle-eyed Burnley student admitted to being overwhelmed and humbled after receiving Padiham FC’s Clubman of the Year accolade.
Connor McGowan, who has just finished the second year of a Sports Coaching degree at UCLAN, became a prevalent cog in the Storks’ promotion charge after becoming the club’s analyst as part of a university module.
The 20-year-old was added to the backroom staff following talks with assistant manager Steve Cunningham and started the project against AFC Liverpool at Valerie Park on November 3rd.
Using software such as Sportscode and Dartfish, the football fanatic would spend hours meticulously dissecting the team’s performances as well as generating graphs, databases and statistical packages to outline key points for manager Steve Wilkes.
Criteria such as possession, pass completion, heading, tackles made, interceptions, first and second ball success rates, movement patterns, shots, shape/organisation and set-pieces - both offensively and defensively - would be analysed, plus a break down of every goal in the fixture.
“It was a module I fancied but as the project progressed at Padiham FC it became a bit more on a personal level,” Connor said. “As the season went on it became more of a job than a module.”
The Storks went on to create history by climbing out of the North West Counties hierarchy and entering the Evo-Stik First Division North. And at the end of season awards evening at the Arbories - after promotion was confirmed on the final day of the campaign away at Runcorn Town - Connor’s contribution was recognised with the presentation of a prestigious award.
“I’d like to think what I contributed was paramount to the success that the club has had this year with winning the North West Counties Premier Division,” he said. “I think it may have given them that cutting edge.
“I’m happy that my work was of some importance to their season and the performances. The award came as a huge shock and to get an award of such magnitude was an honour. It showed that my work had been recognised.
“It truly was great to receive an accolade of such stature at a club where so many great individuals are involved. It’s a tremendous achievement and I felt very proud. Everyone was very appreciative of my work and I’m very grateful for that. The club has always made me feel very welcome and I’m delighted to have been a part of it.”
Connor’s future is currently up in the air. After teaching sports leadership in underprivileged communities in Kabwe, Zambia, he has now flown out to Sacramento in California where he will coach football for two months. Connor has also been interviewed for an analysis internship at Turf Moor, a post which would see him working with the development squad, though he remains keen to return to Padiham to provide his unique service and enjoy the new challenge.
“Either way I’ll be experiencing a new level of football,” beamed Connor. “I love looking at the game from a technical, tactical, psychological and physiological perspective and I’m being given the opportunity to enhance that experience. I’m close to achieving everything I’ve ever wanted. I’m nearing my life dream.”
l Padiham have confirmed the signings of attacking midfielder Spencer Jordan, brother Lewis Jordan and former Barnoldswick Town skipper Liam Blades ahead of the club’s maiden season in the eighth tier of English football.
The Storks have also lined up a pre-season fixture against Burnley’s Development Squad on July 27th with kick-off 11 a.m. at the Arbories. Padiham will also host Skelmersdale United for the Champions Trophy on August 3rd with kick-off at 3 p.m. before entertaining the Vintage Clarets on August 11th.