Fans POTY Chat with Matt O'Donoghue
Steve Hole sits down with Fans Player of the Season, Matt O’Donoghue, to find out his thoughts on last season and his hopes for the rapidly approaching new one …
Firstly, Matt, BIG congratulations on winning the prestigious player of the season award. You impressed us fans mate!
Firstly, I would like to thank all the fans for supporting me and the team throughout last season.
In general, how do you think last season went?
I feel last season was successful, in relation to everyone's perspectives on us at the start, even though I believe we deserved more from it and everyone knows we could have made play offs. Finishing where we did, in the end, was disappointing on the whole with the way we started the season and all of the hard work that was put in. However, it's always difficult to find consistency when you have so many injuries occur.
Do us all a favour. Tell us what your best position is because Calum told me that you were effectively playing out of position last season?
Ha, ha my best position is at right back. I actually played as a right wing back with Harry and Calum at youth level.
...and explain to us if you can what position you were actually playing last season? You seemed to be nominally a left back BUT covered every blade of grass during a match. A couple of times you were the furthest forward in the penalty box, through on goal!
Last season I was given a different role at Whyteleafe, effectively playing as a left inverted full back due to the shape and philosophy that the gaffers wanted to implement. This role, of course, meant I had to defend but also be part of the attacking build up which I thoroughly enjoy.
Harry and Calum have unearthed some outstanding talent - and continue to do so - it must be great being part of that?
It is brilliant to be part of something that brings youth players through the ranks because it's definitely important for young players to gain the experience of first team football as it's hugely different to youth football, especially the physical element.
What are your views, hopes and aspirations on the coming season?
For the coming season with Whyteleafe, my aim - and I think the club’s aim - will be to push for play offs to make up for last season’s disappointment. For myself, I will look to gain more experience of first team football and improve my footballing ability. Of course, it would always be nice to be picked up by a professional club which is a dream of mine!
High points of last season?
The high points of last season for me was to see boys that had never played with each other, come together and form a team that could most definitely compete for the league title, when every other team underestimated Whyteleafe made it feel even sweeter. One specific high point for me, that I can remember, is the win away against Guernsey because we were in a really bad patch of form and couldn't seem to dig out a win, so when we came back from behind to win was an unreal feeling of job done and a bit of relief. It was also it was nice to get on the scoresheet. Everyone was on such a high after the game and it made the flight back to Gatwick a lot easier.
...and inevitably, you knew this was coming, the low points?
There was one stage of the season that really stood out for me as a low point. It was when we started to get lots of injuries, match bans and players were leaving. Disjointing the team week in, week out and having to play players out of position, which is never easy - as I know! (let’s hear it for Scott Day who did a sterling job as an emergency centre half for most of January – Steve) It came as to no surprise that we were struggling to gain points and slowly saw our chances of the play offs slip away, when it was very much in our own hands.
How did you enjoy your first season at Leafe, Matt?
On a whole, my first season with Whyteleafe was very enjoyable, playing under the management of Harry and Calum. They are tactical geniuses. To play for them is always a pleasure for me and I know it's hard to find that at this level of football. It was great to experience playing with some exceptional talent who will move up the leagues and I hope all the best for them in the future.I am extremely grateful for the support that we got throughout the year from the fans and the trophy I received from them. I am so pleased about winning the Fans Player of the Season award. Once again, a big thank you to everyone who voted for me.
Finally, I know you are always 100 per cent focused on the match you are playing in but did you see or hear anything off-field that made you laugh during the season?
You hear a lot of funny things on and off the pitch, especially from the opponent’s fans, which I don't think would be appropriate to say on here (good lad! – Steve). I can't define one specific funny moment but I would say as a whole the humorous comments that come from the opposition - and our fans - made me laugh a lot.