Club photographer Damon Campion chatted with 26-year-old Iron striker Paddy Madden, as we continue our life away from football feature.
Originally published in our matchday programme against Bury on 07/01/17
Born and bred in Dublin then, how was that?
PM: I had a good childhood and I’m pleased I grew up in the era I did rather than nowadays. We got to have a childhood in the 1990’s, whereas now it seems technology has taken over to a degree. It was about being a kid and enjoying yourself, calling on your friends at 9am in the morning and playing football until it got dark. Then at 10pm at night you’d be starving because you’ve had nothing to eat! It was the best childhood I could have asked for really. I had all my brothers and sisters that looked out for me as well.
PM: I was about 10 minutes from the city centre. My area could be classed as a ‘rough area’, as I was on a council estate, but it was full of brilliant, down to earth people.
Have you still got a lot of friends in the same area of Dublin now then?
PM: Yeah, all my mates and family live in the same area. My dad lives in Muirfield where I grew up. My mum and dad are separated now, but she still lives close by as well. My oldest brother built a house in my dad’s garden, but my sister bought it off my brother. My sister and her boyfriend live there now near my dad and my other sister lives close by as well. When I get to go home we all get together easily though so it’s good.
What was Christmas like as a kid?
PM: It was good. I can remember a lot of good ones as a kid. It was the same as for everyone really, you’re waiting for Santa to come and the surprise when I ran down the stairs and saw the presents with my sister was great. I used to be well into WWF, as it was called at the time, and collect all the figures, and get a big wrestling ring and play there for hours. I used to always get the boots of the old Ronaldo too. I was a big Manchester United fan as well and used to get their strips. My mum and dad looked after me in that sense, as did my brothers and sisters.
How many brothers and sisters are there then?
PM: I have two brothers and three sisters, so it’s a big family. My oldest brother is about 41 now and my other one isn’t much younger either, so they always hung around together growing up. We’re a good, close family though and we all look after each other.
What sort of hobbies did you do then, and do you do now?
PM: I do like my music. I wouldn’t class it as a huge hobby but when I’m not playing football I like to play golf.
What sort of music do you like?
PM: I’ll listen to anything really. My favourite kind of music is probably R’n’B but I’ll listen to anything. I like George Michael and stuff like that as well. Music and football are my main hobbies.
In terms of other sports, you must like UFC surely?
PM: Yeah, I’m a big Conor McGregor fan. It’s great to have one of our own from Dublin doing well. We all back each other and it makes the sport a bit more exciting when someone from your own area is doing well. He would have grown up 15 minutes from me. I did enjoy watching it before Conor was even in it though. It just made everything that more exciting when he broke through though.
How was school for you?
PM: School was alright and I have a lot of good memories from it but, as the years went on, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. As a kid, we all want to play football, but as things get more serious and clubs start watching I started to slack off at school. I wasn’t good at that at all to be honest. My first few years were alright but I did tend to get into trouble all the time, I just had no interest in learning beyond the basics. I used to enjoy playing for the football, basketball, rugby and Gaelic teams.
Football-wise then, you started at Bohemians. How did they find you?
PM: Bohemians went through a load of schoolboy teams and started with the team of my area, St Columbans. I was hanging around with a friend of mine, Carl, back then. He played for Home Farm at the time, who were a big schoolboy team in Ireland, and he asked me if I wanted to go up there. I went there and played for seven years, and was top scorer every year (scoring over 50 goals a season). I then went on to Cherry Orchard for a year. My brother Chris played a massive role. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be playing football now. He kept me on the straight and narrow. The travelling at Cherry Orchard didn’t work out (on the south side of Dublin when I was based on the north). I just wanted something around my own area and I signed for WFTA. I enjoyed a great time then at Under-15/16 level. My brother Chris became manager for them and I was scoring a lot of goals. A lot of scouts came to the games and Bohemians got in touch. Stoke and Stockport were interested at the time though. I went on a few trials and then joined Bohemians, signing a professional contract. They had the best three strikers in the League of Ireland at the time and it was a great benefit learning from them every day. I didn’t go straight into the first team because I needed to bulk out a bit, as I was scrawny. The manager at the time helped me loads and got me built up, and used to playing against men. He didn’t rush me into it. I got sent out on loan to Shelbourne, who were in the first division at the time. I went there and just scored goals regularly. Bohemians then called me back early and I played games, scoring vital goals at the end of the season to help win the league, and we ended up doing the double that year. The next year I was more of a regular and finished as top scorer. Bohemians were going through a tough time financially at the time, and Carlisle came in.
With the Irish league being a summer league, what happened during the winter?
PM: That would be our time off, like we have in the summer now in this country. The season runs from February to November over there.
Then it was over the water to Carlisle.
PM: Bohemians told me that there was an opportunity. Burnley were interested, with Brian Laws as manager at the time, but he was sacked around that time. The assistant manager at Bohemians’ sister was married to Graham Kavanagh (assistant manager) at Carlisle, and that’s how the link came. I signed for Carlisle, but things didn’t go to plan there. It was my first time away from home, and it took time to get used to it. There was a lot of bored time, because I was stuck at the club’s house. That played a part, and I got a few injuries. I played 32 games but I only started six matches and scored twice. I signed on deadline day in January and it took time to gel into the team. The next pre-season came around and I was flying, scoring a good few goals, and in the last game of the pre-season some fella stepped on my foot and broke it. I was out for four or five months with that and had to have a pin in my foot. I didn’t get back fit until January of that season and the same thing happened, so I was in and out of the team. Then pre-season came around again, I was flying, and I ripped my ankle ligaments! So that summed my time up there. I was debating going home at the time, because it wasn’t a great period. I gave it one more go and asked if I could go out on loan just to get some game time, because I always had belief in myself that given the opportunity I would score goals in this country. At the time, Ireland was full-time so there wasn’t a lot of difference between League One and the Eircom League. I ended up getting a loan move to Yeovil, in the same league.
How did that move come about?
PM: The year before, I got a goal and won man of the match in a 3-2 win against Yeovil, and Gary Johnson remembered me from that time. He took a chance on me, got me down to Yeovil and I hit the ground running from there, and kept scoring and scoring. I played 15 minutes for Carlisle that year and scored in a game against Portsmouth. I then went to Yeovil and ended up finishing with promotion at Wembley, a goal in the play-off final, and winning the League One golden boot. Why did you leave Yeovil for here? I had a lot of respect for Gary Johnson because if it wasn’t for him I’d be playing back home in Ireland now, but we didn’t see eye to eye, and the following season he was a different person with me altogether. We went our separate ways. Then Peter Swann came in and offered me a good deal at Scunthorpe, and since then I haven’t looked back. I’ve enjoyed every minute so far. The chairman had a plan when I first signed that we’d get the club to the Championship together. Scunthorpe were in League Two at the time so, to go down to that level when in the Championship, I don’t think anyone else would have persuaded me other than Peter. The ambition and where he wanted to go really appealed to me. I liked his outlook on things. There were a lot of offers from League One, but a lot of things here appealed to me.
Throughout your career you’ve played for the national team at certain ages, how was that experience?
PM: I didn’t get my first call-up until late. I was in the home base squad at first, which was just players from the Irish leagues. We played Malta down at Cork, won 1-0 and I scored a penalty. Everything went right in that game. I was in and out of the main Republic of Ireland squad until Under-21 level. Then I went to England and that’s when people take more notice. After the Yeovil success I got called up for the squad when I was playing in the Championship. I made my international debut in the last 25 minutes of a game against Wales. I was then called up into the squad after that for World Cup qualifiers against Austria and Sweden. However, I went in for a 50-50 tackle at training at Yeovil and ripped all the medial ligaments in my knee and had to pull out of that squad.
There’s still time to get back in though.
PM: Hopefully if I keep scoring for Scunthorpe I will be called back in soon.
Do you get caps if you play for them then?
PM: They used to give you one for every game you play, but now they just give you one for the year. It’s a nice thing to have but for some reason I haven’t got one, so maybe I need to get onto them about it.
Who was your biggest influence in football?
PM: It was my brother Chris. All my family wanted me to succeed but my brother was always the one who’d tell me if I had a bad game, etc. He’s the one I always looked up to. As I was growing up I’d always watch my brother Chris play. He used to play at a high amateur level. He used to tell me what I needed to do off the field. While at 17/18, my friends were going out in nightclubs, I was in watching Match of the Day and cleaning my boots. He’s still my representative now, he has my interests at heart and is good to have. He’ll tell me if I have a bad game, and will keep me grounded. My parents played a big part too and watched games, though it was hard for my dad as his job at the time meant he couldn’t see too many. He looks after my memorabilia though and is very proud. I’ll be moving into my own house in the summer and I’m thinking of a games room so would like all my jerseys on the wall in there.
Who were your favourite players growing up?
PM: I loved Roy Keane’s style of play - just his aggression and the will to win. I admired Andy Cole, and then there was Ruud van Nistelrooy. I grew up in an era when there were some magnificent strikers, so it was good to have those role models.
Have you always been a striker?
PM: I played right wing too, and for some school teams I played centre-back. I was the same size as everyone else at that time and I used to win a lot of headers. Up front is where I did best though. I always had that knack in the box for reading the game and expecting the unexpected. I developed that from playing street football.
Are you a good sleeper the night before a game?
PM: Yeah, I sleep well whenever really. People struggle after games but I don’t seem to.
Do you have any superstitions before games?
PM: I have to put all my right stuff on before my left, so right sock, right boot, etc. I bless myself before the game too - that’s more religious than superstitious.
Have you got any thoughts regarding life after football?
PM: Not really. When I get in my thirties I’ll do my coaching badges. I could see myself managing or coaching, I think it’s something I’d be good at. I’m only 26 and plan to play for as long as I can.
Do you like watching the foreign leagues at all?
PM: Not really. I love playing football but don’t like watching live matches on TV, unless it’s a big game, or a team in our league so we can do some research. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll see the scores of some games and watch five minutes. I’d rather watch darts or something though.
Would you ever want to play abroad?
PM: Probably America when I’m older. I wouldn’t want to play in Spain, I think they’d be too technical for me.