Sports Coaching student Connor McGowan admitted to being overwhelmed and humbled after receiving Padiham FC’s Clubman of the Year accolade.
Connor became a vital cog in the Storks’ promotion charge after becoming the club’s analyst as part of a module for his second year studies. 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 in November 2012.
Using software such as Sportscode and Dartfish, the football fanatic would spent 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 it became a bit more on a personal level," said Connor. "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 League into Evo-Stik First Division North. At the end of season awards evening 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 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 my work was of some importance to their season and the performances. The award came as a huge shock but was such an honour. It showed my work had been recognised."
Since the season ended Connor has taught sports leadership in underprivileged communities in Kabwe, Zambia, before flying out to Sacramento in California to coach football. 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. 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."