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15 Years of FC: The Rory Patterson Interview

15 Years of FC: The Rory Patterson Interview

The ’man with no name’, Rory Patterson, joined up with FC for a friendly prior to the inaugural season and stayed for three seasons in which he played 129 games and scored 99 goals, picking up the Golden Boot twice, Supporters player of the season twice, and Players Player of the season amongst other awards. His talent was breath-taking and was genuinely one of those players who you were happy paying the admission fee for alone just to watch him play; with his fiery temperament and a love of the big occasion he was a perfect talisman for the fledgling club, and helped FC to successive promotions in three years. After leaving FC his career took him into English League Football with Plymouth, the Northern Irish League and out to Australia, on the way catching the eye of the Northern Irish International management, picking up 5 caps.

On the occasion of FC United’s 15th birthday he agreed to an interview made up of the questions that the FC fans put forward so settle down and read the frank and frequently funny answers of ‘Mr Mystery’

Rory’s stats (Courtesy of Yura’s fantastic fcunited/ru/en site)

You were at Mossley in 2005 did you have any offers before joining FC United and did you take much persuading from Karl to join?
I was released by Rochdale in 2004 when I was 19 even though I’d won Young Player of the Year, it was a kick in the teeth as I’d played in 15 first team matches that year, so I was going to completely sack football off, then I got chatting to Bernard Manning Jr. (then owner of Radcliffe) in my local and he asked me to go down and play a couple of pre-season friendlies for them, so I went down and we played a few games against league clubs and I was flying, doing well against the teams I’d been playing against the previous season like Rochdale, Bolton and Bury and in front of a big crowds, then the season started and the reality of non-league hit me and I left; then an opportunity came to play for Mossley later that season, I didn’t enjoy that either and I came to the conclusion that football wasn’t for me.

Then I got a call from Karl Marginson in close-season and he was hounding me for a week or so to come and play for FC United, I wasn’t mad interested, obviously I’d heard stuff about the club but I thought ‘Nah, non-league isn’t for me’ and I didn’t want to play football at all, but eventually he persuaded me and said just come down and play a friendly, against Stalybridge Celtic I think it was, and I liked playing for FC and obviously the fans took to me straight away and that was it! Margy said to me ‘You’re signing’ and that was it like, I didn’t have much choice!

Did it surprise you the number of fans and the passion they had for the club?
Obviously I’d played in the league so I was used to playing in front of thousands, and I wanted to play in front of a big crowd and I think that’s what made me the player I was at FC, the atmosphere and all that goes with it gives you the extra motivation. It was a massive surprise obviously when I drove to Stalybridge and when I got there I thought “What the f***, there’s f****** thousands here!”, I’d only heard bits and bats about FC as I’d completely fallen out of love with football so I wasn’t paying any attention to it but Margy had been telling me “This is going to be massive” but it was him doing his manager job, bigging it up, bigging it up and I thought “Marg whatever…”

When we started the league games at Gigg Lane there were over three’s on every single week and while the standard of the football wasn’t at league level everything else was, with the crowd, the ground and everything was done right, and obviously the fans took to me straight away and I scored the goals that I scored.

The fanbase was as tight as the team was, the blend was right, the camaraderie we had with the experienced heads, we had quality young lads, it was buzzing, we had the younger lads like Jerome Wright, Adie Orr, Brad Howard, Shaun Roscoe who’d done his apprenticeship at Bury so we had played against each other a lot, and we mixed well with the older lads and that helped a lot. I’ve always been drawn to the older lads in the dressing room, sitting with them after the game and having a beer and that. Nowadays you tend to find in dressing rooms that the younger lads stick together on one side and the older lads to the other so what we had at FC was perfect. We had Chaddy, Rudd who took all the hits and allowed me to score all the goals then big Phil Melville a funny man, Steve Torpey, Billy McCartney who I was very very good friends with him when I was there, then we had Simon Carden who was the driest man out of anyone I have ever met in my life, the weirdest dude ever and I mean that in a good way, it’s not a dig at him, he’d be just sat there smoking a fag and he didn’t give a s*** about anyone or anything, he just came, played his football then went home after a few pints. I know I was known as the grumpy one but I don’t think his face ever changed, he was never mad or never happy, he just had a straight face on him any time I saw him.

Rory standing on the ball looking for a cross in Colne

Do any games stand out for you?
I’d probably say it was the worst game I ever played in for FC, it was a s*** game but it was when we won the league at Gigg Lane and there was over six thousand people there to see us lift the title against Great Harwood. It was the first FC game my parents had attended and I’d been to them ‘It’ll be this and it’ll be that’ and afterwards they said ‘It’s the worst I’ve ever see you play’. So I’d say that game for the buzz around the day and the massive crowd.
There was a game against Curzon Ashton I remember well too, it was at Curzon’s ground in the NWCFL Challenge Cup, that was a massive crowd and they were big rivals obviously, it was dramatic as we’d equalised then Josh Howard went on a wee jinking run and scored late on so that was great.

Then obviously we had the European games like the Leipzig one which were experiences in themselves….

Can you tell us a few tales about Marburg away and coping with Chaddy as a roommate?

Ha ha ha, I don’t know if I can remember all the stories! Well we played the match then we were straight on it, we were out all night then as I had a couple of mates over from Rochdale who were FC fans, so we got some booze and invited them over to my room, so there was me, Torpey, these two lads and a couple of others and Chaddy, who fell asleep, and I know he blames me for this, but we covered him from head to toe in permanent marker, fingernails, toenails, on his face, tattoos and he was absolutely livid when he woke up, he didn’t realise at first as he was still a bit groggy then he went over to the mirror and I got the blame straight away. There was a fans match in the afternoon that we had to go to and he couldn’t get the ink off ha ha, there’s pictures around of it somewhere…

Who was your best mate in the first season?
I’d probably say Adie Orr, we played up front together and we knew each other from competing against each other when he was in city’s youth team, anyway we just hit it off. I only bumped into him once after FC and that was when I was at Plymouth with Bradley Wright-Phillips who knew Adie from city so Bradley said a few of my mates are out and Adie was there, was good to catch up. When Jerome came to FC he was by best mate too, I have to say his name otherwise he’ll call me and give me grief because he’s a big softy!

Do you keep in touch with any of the FC players you played with?
Aye on social media I do quite a few, and I still speak to Jerome, and Shaun Roscoe tries to banter me on social media but his banter is horrendous.

Other than your goal from the halfway line do you have a favourite goal.
The two best I can think of, one was against Congleton in the NWCFL Challenge Cup at Gigg Lane, we’d just conceded either side of half time so were losing, anyway from the kick off Matty Taylor passed it to me in the centre circle, I took a few touches forward and then spanked it into the net from about 40 yards, then we went on to win 4-3 through Rob Nugent, so probably that one, and then I scored an overhead kick against Bacup, I was on lean run of goals and during the first half the ball came over to me and I was on the edge of the area with my back to goal, and I went for an overhead bicycle kick and it went in off the post.

Click here to see Rory’s goal against Congleton

Click here to see Rory’s goal against Bacup

Click here to see Rory’s goal from the half-way line against Silsden

Have you tried to score from the halfway line since?
Yeah I’ve tried it loads of times ha ha! I’ve had quite a few close ones and a few not so close, probably the nearest I’ve got was when I was in Australia and I was going for the top goalscorer in the league and I saw the keeper was off his line and I just smashed in it from 40 yards.

Do you prefer watching or playing football?
I tried to learn from watching games but they used to bore me as I’d much rather be playing, the only thing that I probably didn’t enjoy was the disciplinary aspect of the game. There was an incident at Accrington against Colne in a cup game, I’d had a stinker and got subbed off late on, anyway both sides scored in injury time and the two dug-outs exchanged some frank views, one of their players threw some mud at Margy and I got involved, I think I got a sneaky one in on a guy who had been mouthing off, it obviously wasn’t that sneaky as the referee came straight over to me and even though I had been subbed off the referee red carded me, I got banned for 35 days then so actually ended up missing 5 games. I missed a month of the season so could have scored more goals than I did
(Editors Note: Rory actually played the most games and scored the most goals for FC in 05/06 despite the long ban)

How did you feel playing for Bradford against FC?
I didn’t want to leave FC, but I had a new born baby and I needed to earn more money as I was no longer just looking after myself. I was hoping that the club could have organised some work alongside playing for FC but there wasn’t anything available and I’ll tell you now I wasn’t really keen on Bradford, I didn’t try to leverage a rise out of FC using the Bradford offer but I couldn’t afford to live on the money they could afford.

When I left Rochdale I had two jobs, one in a plastic factory making bollards and the other was spray-painting which I despised and I had to be up at 5am to be able to get to play football, so the Bradford offer took away a lot of financial pressure at the time and meant I didn’t have to effectively do two jobs which would have meant that I’d spend no time with my baby.

When I started playing for them I realised it was completely different to playing for FC, the crowd was pretty quiet and my form dipped. The only time it was noisy was when FC came along and it was a pretty big crowd and I love playing in front of lots of people, that helped me actually some of the FC fans were upset with me and let me know, you know what I’m like so it spurred me on and I scored two that day, I didn’t have any malice towards the FC fans, I left and people didn’t like it. As I said I didn’t want to leave and didn’t make demands but I had to look after my family, I think most people would.

I only played the once against FC and after the game in the bar I said to Margy ‘take me back’ but nothing could be done still so that was that.

Do you miss us?
I owe FC a lot as I went on to have a good career in the game after nearly walking away from it, I played all around the world and went on to be an international and score for my country. I honestly don’t think any of that would have happened without FC.

I really missed the club so when I left Australia and had the chance to return to FC I couldn’t wait to get back, obviously all the lads had had a pre-season and they were all fit whereas I wasn’t. At the time I thought it was going to be good coming back but it wasn’t, it was a bit of a nightmare and I knew I needed to get into shape and a few hard weeks training would have got me sorted, I was training with the Academy lads in the morning then with the first team twice a week just to try to get into shape.

It didn’t work out and then I came back home and went on to re-sign for Derry City, and played 65 games for them scoring 35 so I knew I wasn’t done, and went on after that to play for another season after that so I knew I could have done a good job for FC given time to get into shape but it wasn’t to be.
I’m over in England quite a bit because I have family over there so I’d definitely come to Broadhurst Park and watch a game when the lockdown has finished and the travel ban is sorted.

What’s your career highlight?
After Bradford I was at Droylsden for a while but I wasn’t happy so my mum said come back home if you’re not happy, and while I was here the manager for Coleraine got in touch with me and asked me to sign, the offer was good enough to mean that I wouldn’t need a second job so I signed and had a great season, scored 30 goals in 33 games and won several awards, did really well so much so that I ended up getting a contract at Plymouth Argyle who were in the Championship at the time, and from there got into the Northern Ireland International team. I’d been told there was interest in me all through my career from a number of top clubs and so to play for a club that high up and win international caps was amazing.

Click here to see Rory scoring for his country

Who’s the most famous person in your phonebook?
Hang on (Rory scrolls through phone contacts) I’d say Paddy McCourt, I was with him at Rochdale and he went on to play for Celtic, Barnsley, Brighton & Hove Albion and Notts Count.

Do you have any regrets from your playing career?
When I went to Plymouth I thought it was a dream move but shortly afterwards they went into administration. I ended up spending a year or so with a lot of financial uncertainty, I loved everything else about being there, I had an amazing apartment overlooking the harbour, it was a beautiful place and the football standard were great, I could have gone to a few other clubs at the same level and I regret picking them because of how it worked out. Lovely people but it didn’t work out on the financial side of things.

Do you ever get asked about FC?
Over here I get asked quite a lot, that is often the first people ask me about in Northern Ireland, I got asked all the time about what it was like, from fans and players who were looking at moving there. The profile of FC was huge when I was there and people knew the scores and that.

You were spotted in Harrogate a while ago – do you have family there?
My best mates sister used to live there, so if I was in the area to see my daughter I would stay there so that’s probably why.

Someone thinks that they saw you fighting a bunch of guys outside the Hilton with your shirt off one winter evening? Was it you and what happened?
I don’t think so, nothing springs to mind? Did I win?

It doesn’t say.
Ha Ha - well if I won it was definitely me, otherwise no it was someone else.

What’s your worst initiation?
I’ve only ever done one, I’ve managed to avoid doing them but don’t get me wrong, if someone new joins I’m the first to get them embarrassed as f***. The one I did do was in Australia and I had to sing with this other player, he was horrendous, it was after a match and we both had to stand on a bench like two tits, we sang ‘Stand by me’ and he completely strangled it, I’m no singer but I was definitely better than him.

What are you doing these days?
I’m furloughed at the moment but I’m a fitness instructor and work in a gym, I have no idea when I’m going back so I’m spending time with my family and on the golf course, I’m playing off an 18, unless there’s money involved then I’m playing off a 24!

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First Posted ~ 21:49 Sat 13 Jun 2020
News ID ~ 8728
Last Updated ~ 18:43 Wed 15 Jul 2020