|Paddy hands me my free ticket for the Orient game|
From grassroots football in his native Ireland, to scoring the opening goal at Wembley in a League One play off final just five years later – Paddy Madden has endured a swift rise to English lower league goal scoring fame, and continues to impress at his latest club Scunthorpe United. But it’s not always his on the field exploits that have captured the hearts of fans of the clubs he’s represented.
Madden began his football career playing for schoolboy team WFTA FC in Ireland. It was his impressive goal scoring stats that gained him a move to Bohemian’s of the League of Ireland Premier division. “I was scoring maybe 40-50 goals a season” he said.
Pat Fenlon the Bohs manager at that time watched Madden frequently, and gave the young player his first professional contract at 18. “It was a good experience, training full time every morning. I went in there and learnt off the likes of Glenn Cronin, Jason Byrne and Neale Fenn – three of the best strikers in the league at that time.”
Madden’s career at Bohs was going well, and after scoring 16 times in 44 appearances in his third year there – Scouts from England were lurking over him. It was Carlisle United who flexed their muscle first, persuading him to join the club in January 2011 on a two-and-a-half-year contract.
Although the expectations were there, injuries were to plight his Carlisle career. A broken metatarsal in the foot was to end his first pre-season with the club, leaving Madden out until late November. By then the team were on a good run, and he found it hard to break into the squad, making substitute appearances here and there.
With lady luck certainly not blessing him, he ruptured ligaments in his ankle the following pre-season, with the first league game only a week or so away.
After the latest injury setback, he found it even harder to make his mark on the Carlisle first team. A chat with his manager Gregg Abbott led to the two agreeing that he needed to get out and get some valuable game time. After failing to get his break in League One, scoring just two goals in thirty odd appearances, Paddy knows he was lucky to stay at that level. But luck was finally willing to give the man a break, and Yeovil came knocking.
“I knew I could score goals in England, it was just getting my chance. Gary Johnson brought me to Yeovil and I hit the ground running.” Madden said. And that isn’t an understatement in the slightest.
A run of five goals in his first five games for the Glovers left his parent club wondering where they’d gone wrong.
After nine goals in sixteen appearances, Madden became a permanent Yeovil signing in January 2013. A further thirteen league goals would fire them all the way to the League One play off finals, with a chance for the young man to make his impression in front of the nation at Wembley.
“You know everybody wants to go up automatically, but for me the best way to get promoted is through the play offs.” he said.
Madden’s opening goal after six minutes of the final helped Yeovil to a 2-1 victory, earning the club the chance to play in England’s second tier for the first time in their history. “It was the best goal of my career so far, and a day I’ll never forget.” he recalls.
Despite missing the first eleven games of that season, Paddy finished with the league’s golden boot, on 22 goals. If anyone had not heard of his name before this season – they knew now.
That impressive goal tally led to an international call up, which Madden claims to be his ‘best feeling to date in football’. “I’m a proud Irish man, so to represent my country was an unbelievable feeling. I came on and did well against Wales so I was called up for the World Cup qualifiers with Sweden and Austria.” he said.
In another cruel twist of fate, an injury sustained in training for Yeovil would rule him out of both games.
A fallout with Gary Johnson meant Madden never got a real chance in the Championship, and was left on the transfer market with January nearing.
League Two promotion hopefuls Scunthorpe United gave him the opportunity to prove his worth once again when they signed him for an undisclosed fee in the January transfer window of 2014. “My confidence took a bit of knock when they wanted to sell me. I only made four appearances due to a falling out with the manager there. The chairman at Scunthorpe made me feel wanted again.” he said.
Five goals from him helped Scunthorpe as they finished league runners up, with Madden then destined to have another pop at League One football – a league he’d dominated less than 12 months earlier.
A new playing role was devised for Madden when the Iron appointed Mark Robins as manager in October, with him mainly featuring on the wing for the Iron this season. The forward had been backed in at 28/1 to be top scorer in the football betting before the season had begun. This hasn’t stopped the goals from flooding in, with him looking likely to finish as the clubs top scorer this year. “I’ve started 64 or 65 consecutive games for Scunthorpe and it’s been brilliant. When a player feels wanted at a team it brings the best out of them, and even playing out in a wide position I’ve managed to get 16 goals.” he said.
When the writer of this piece found funds a little low around the time of an important League One match, he posted a tweet stating that he was to sell his iPod to be able to watch his beloved Iron.
Out of nowhere, a tweet back from Paddy himself was received. “I’ll leave you two tickets pal.” I was taken aback by such generosity. I didn’t know Paddy personally, yet he’d chosen to help a stranger out. “My Mum and Dad brought me up well and taught me that kindness costs nothing. When I saw your tweet I knew I could help, so I reached out to give you the ticket.” he told me.
With a mini goal drought over following the 2-0 win over Peterborough, and another added just days later when the Iron crucially beat Crawley 2-1, Paddy will look to finish the season on a high. It’s so unusual to find a footballer as humble and grounded as the Irishman. From helping clubs to promotion – to helping fans make games – Paddy is a model footballer, both on and off the pitch.