The homecoming of David McGoldrick’s that was dreamt of but one we never anticipated happening. Sometimes even now it still does not feel real when you see him ahead of you in Notts County colours on the pitch at Meadow Lane Stadium as he is still the player he appeared to be in those years he spent playing in the higher levels of English Football. On June 10, 2023, he returned and here will be a discussion the impact he has had so far.
To begin with, I will again be the first to admit that he would struggle to fit this system built by Luke Williams in the past year and a half. It is no secret, you could be a player at the highest level of the game but that does not mean you can walk into new environments where things are completely different and hit the ground running immediately. The first few games in a Notts shirt beyond that news-breaking return, I personally felt that he was dropping deeper and deeper in the team in order to attempt to get on the ball and that was negatively impacting our chances up the top end of the field as he was not present there. Yet, and again, I am very happy to be able to announce proudly just how wrong I was.
The way he now not only contributes to the team, but also pops up in the big moments where we need him most just like on Tuesday evening against Crawley Town is almost effortless. I use the goal in midweek as the prime example because it came at a point in the game where we were in desperate need of a goal and that goal he did score was the catalyst in another memorable Meadow Lane comeback from this team. It is not just that goal that can be used as the reference point, you can also look at the FA Cup game against Crawley Town as well as the opening goal away at Salford City. It is them kind of away games that you need the all-important opening goal, and that delightful, glanced header of his secured that moment for us.
One of my favourite things about having Didzy home is the fact you can tell he plays as a supporter of the club as well as a professional footballer. As a 36-year-old player, you would expect a player of that age to slow down in the middle of the second half yet the number of full games he has played so far at a constantly high intensity throughout has been astonishing. It just goes to show really how bad of a lie the “McGoldrick has gone back to Notts County to slow down” line was after his return from opposing supporters. It was a huge move, and when headlines are off other clubs in a transfer window due to a move elsewhere it can spark a bit of jealousy, but it was one of the worst lines of the season so far as Didzy has proven it wrong within twenty games never mind forty-six. It is now eight goals and three assists with a bagful of faultless performances now, and just as I mentioned with Daniel Crowley last week, I do expect both departments to be covered by double-digits from Didzy before the conclusion of the season.
This is all about what he has done from an individual point-of-view, but what he has done for the team is just as important so let’s now talk about two of the key differences he has made on his teammates:
The partnership with Macaulay Langstaff
This for me has been the most crucial in terms of the importance on our fortunes so far this season. It is no secret that Macca had a pretty slow start to the season after going a few of his opening games without a goal. this is natural and expected no matter how impressive of a goal scorer he is as this was a brand-new league to Macca, though now it would not seem it considering he is once again making it look easy. But, to go back to the start of the season, I personally felt it looked like he was missing Ruben Rodrigues but that was down to the fact that it took Daniel Crowley and Didzy a bit of time to get used to the way of playing. Now that they have, we have seen the benefits of having the pair around Macca. But most in particular, what we are beginning to see form between Didzy and Macca is something that could lead to something quite special. It all seemed to happen at the snap of the fingers really, the chemistry between the pair was a quick process to produce and that is a testament to both and now I think that it is pretty evident that you now see whenever Didzy picks up the ball it is like his first thought is “where is Macca?”. I said that for me this is the most crucial in terms of importance because without these two forming that bond immediately, we would not be sitting pretty just a point off of second place in the league. It is a testament to Macca to have someone like Didzy and all his experience come in and still learn things from him but who would not learn from Macca, the man is quite literally a goal-scoring machine.
The extra leadership
Again, an aspect that has a great deal of importance to the squad. We already have a great leader in Kyle Cameron, who in his time at the club so far has been the most ideal man for the role, but adding Didzy sure does add to that leadership department. It all stems from his experience and when you have a player who has represented on the highest international level, the highest levels in English Football within your ranks you have to treasure it. It was the same when we had Shola Ameobi and Alan Smith, both were massively important to the changing room due to their experiences and the season they left us, we got relegated and that was no coincidence. But with Didzy, on-field you can see the leadership skills he brings and the arm he puts round the players who need it most. When we have fallen behind in games this season and completed a wonderful turnaround, they are the moments you need the players like Didzy to step-up and again you look back to the midweek game against Crawley Town and even the FA Cup game against them, it was Didzy who equalised in the week and Didzy who got the assist and goal to complete the turnaround again in the FA Cup. That comes from experience and the way you lead others towards the ultimate goals within the games, and the added leadership that he has brought since joining from Derby County in the summer has been evident and cannot be understated.
It is no secret how popular he is at the Lane, it was always going to be that way after his return was announced. One of our own, who went on to have a very good career in the English game, but he never ever once let Notts leave his mind, this is his club and that is exactly why he came home. There is just a typically different aura to the atmosphere when he is on the pitch, whenever he finds the back of the net you know the full stadium is going to arise to sing his song and when he leaves the field, the same happens again. As a 36-year-old, it is no secret that this is now considered the later stages of his career and adjudging the fact he has always said he wanted to conclude his career at the Lane, you can safely say he will be hanging the boots up once his race has been run for the second time as a Notts County player.
But we do not need to worry about that for a few years just yet. We still have a lot of memories to create whilst Didzy is playing in our colours and if the start of the season is anything to go off, the next memory to add to the books may well be in the summer of 2024. Fairy-tale stuff that would be, for one of our own to take us back to the level he left to come home, would be something an author themselves would struggle to write.
Until then, I conclude this with one simple message and one message that reads as the following… David McGoldrick, he’s one of our own!
*Article provided by K-Ci Rennicks (Notts County Correspondent).
*Main image @Official_NCFC David McGoldrick has been enjoying himself back home where it all began.