PADDY Lane is ready to restart his bid to reach the professional football stage after Hyde United experienced their own Covid-19 shutdown.
And the midfielder, who had trials at EFL clubs over the summer before signing a new contract at Ewen Fields, did not spend his enforced absence sat on his sofa.
United were forced to postpone three matches after becoming one of a number of local clubs to experience positive coronavirus tests.That shutdown came to an end with the Northern Premier League match at Mickleover Sports on Tuesday, October 24 after a training session the previous Sunday.
But Lane did not rest on his laurels, even though he was not allowed at the stadium for training, as did several of manager Dave McGurk’s side – thanks to a schedule drawn up by assistant manager John McCombe.
The 19-year-old said: “A lot of the lads are very fit anyway, so we did a lot at home. That’s the sort of group we’ve got but for some of the lads who work in the day, it was quite tough.
“It didn’t come at a good time as we’d just got our first league win of the season and after two good draws with two of the top sides. But I suppose it did give people the chance to recover and get their legs back.
“John gave is all training programmes to do at home. He put one together for us just to tide us over really, just to make sure we were good to go after the 14 days.
“The original pre-season was awful as it was the longest thing ever – we just wanted to play football again.”
While lower leagues are affected by the tier three regulations imposed on the area, Hyde remain able to face sides from outside the region.
But the effect the shutdown will have on their schedule is at the forefront of Lane’s mind as he added: “You think, ‘How long can we do this for?’ as if another team gets it, they’ll be affected.
“The schedule is crazy in a normal season, now this has taken it 10 times higher. We’ve got something of a schedule but during the season that goes everywhere.”
Lane may be one of Hyde’s most popular players but do not think he is a local lad – he hails from Halifax in West Yorkshire.
But his connection to the Tigers is so strong after they helped him establish himself as a footballer, he almost feels like he is Tameside born and bred.
He told The Correspondent: “It’s got a connection to me as before I got to Hyde, I was like, ‘Am I going to do football, am I not? Is it something I really want to pursue?’
“I’ve always wanted to do it but at Hyde I got confidence in the youth team and I’ve not looked back since I got into the first team. I really like the club and the people at it. In that sense I feel like a local lad.
“When I was 15, I was at Blackburn then went around clubs getting trials for a few years. Some said I was too small and I went on trial at Chester.
“That’s a long way for me and I couldn’t really hack the travel, so someone there rang one of the coaches at Hyde’s academy and said, ‘There’s a lad from Halifax who wants full-time football.’
“At the time, I wasn’t getting one with football very much, to the point where I was going to quit as I didn’t enjoy it at all but those two years at Hyde’s academy made me fall back in love with it again.
“Hyde now has a personal connection. Over the summer there was a lot of speculation and I got a bit unlucky but I didn’t let it affect me. In the back of my head, I was always a Hyde United player.
“Now my head’s back down and I’ve got to keep working again to maybe get those opportunities for something to happen in the future for me to go into full-time football.
“It’s no secret that’s my aim but at the minute I’m very happy with Hyde.”
Over the summer, Lane was linked pretty much here, there and everywhere as the midfielder’s talents have not gone unnoticed.
Had things been different, he may now be a player at a Football League club – but even though he has signed on again, there are no secrets between him and the club.
If he does eventually earn his move up the footballing pyramid, all his thanks will be to the club that made him.
He said: “It was never a case of me going behind the club’s back or them going behind my back by signing someone else, we’ve always been in open conversation over it.
“I was on trial with EFL clubs over the summer and if Covid-19 wasn’t a thing or players hadn’t been injured in those set ups, anything could’ve happened.
“It was to the point where I was certain something was going to happen, then I got told, ‘It’s not going to happen’. It was a kick but I had a game the next day, so I had to get back to work and I’m not one to dwell on things.
“Ever since I signed, the club has been unbelievable for me and supported me in whatever I’ve wanted to do.”