ROAR­ING BACK

FOOT­BALL’S GIVEN ME A RE­NEWED PUR­POSE

The Non-League Football Paper - - NEWS - By MATT BAD­COCK

How King’s Lynn Town have got Rory McAuley back in love with foot­ball again

RORY McAuley can en­joy these mo­ments in foot­ball again. Bat­tling with a striker for 90 min­utes, the feel­ing of try­ing to win three points, of be­ing in­volved in a pro­mo­tion race and even, es­pe­cially as a cen­tre-back, scor­ing two ac­ro­batic won­der goals in the space of a fort­night for King’s Lynn Town.

The 29-year-old can joke about surely hav­ing first and sec­ond in the Linnets’ goal of the sea­son race wrapped up, muse whether his over­head kick against Rushall Olympic or his scis­sor-kick at Need­ham Mar­ket was bet­ter and laugh about be­ing avail­able af­ter train­ing if his team­mates want any tips.

Be­cause over the last two years there have been points where he won­dered if he’d ever en­joy those feel­ings again.

On Jan­uary 8, 2017, the de­fender’s life – and his fam­ily’s – changed for­ever.

That night, McAuley and his mum, Les­ley, dis­cov­ered his sis­ter Kerri’s life­less body. A mum of two young boys, she had been mur­dered by her part­ner in their flat.

The de­tails are too hor­rific to imag­ine but McAuley wants this to be a story look­ing for­ward and one of how hope can shine through eter­nal dark­ness.

“It was a real trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence,” McCauley says. “I was the one who first found her so I came off re­ally bad. I was di­ag­nosed with post-trau­matic stress – like soldiers when they come back from war – and I de­vel­oped anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion – things I’d never had in my life be­fore so I didn’t know what was go­ing on. It’s real cliché, but Satur­day af­ter­noons and train­ing, be­ing with the boys, was some­thing to get me back on track be­cause I started to go down the wrong path for a lit­tle bit. I’d wal­low in my own self-pity, but foot­ball got me back on track.”

Re­lease

McAuley says his girl­friend Tess­cole has been his back­bone along with their chil­dren Gigi, 2, and Kylian, 1. Foot­ball has given him that re­lease, a place to es­cape to.

“I re­mem­ber the first game back play­ing af­ter it had all hap­pened,” he says. “I was at Low­est­oft and we played Har­low away. We won 2-1. I went in the chang­ing room af­ter­wards and cried my heart out. The boys came and gave me a cud­dle. “It’s those things, just to know ev­ery­body was sup­port­ing me and be­hind me, helped get my head back on track and to where I am now. I didn’t think that would be pos­si­ble a year ago. “I was in a dark place but now I’ve found peace in life and con­tent­ment. I’ve got my kids, my mis­sus, we’re mov­ing house – ev­ery­thing has fallen back into place and I couldn’t be hap­pier.” The fam­ily are push­ing for changes in the law for do­mes­tic vi­o­lence vic­tims, have raised money for a lo­cal char­ity and be­fore Christ­mas do­nated toys to be handed out to chil­dren. McAuley says his bat­tle with men­tal health has also changed his own out­look. “Go­ing through life you hear about peo­ple with de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety and these sort of things,” he says. “You un­der­stand to a cer­tain de­gree, but un­til it hap­pens to you, you never fully un­der­stand. “It’s given me an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for other peo­ple who go through men­tal health prob­lems. I’ve played in some char­ity games for Squeeze Foot­ball (a twit­ter ac­count that cel­e­brates grass­roots

“IT WAS TRAU­MATIC A I’D EX­PE­RI­ENCE. SELF WAL­LOW IN PITY BUT FOOT­BALL TRACK” GOT ME BACK ON – Rory McAuley

ball in the east while rais­men­tal health aware­ness) as a fam­ily we’ve raised sands of pounds for a es­tic vi­o­lence char­ity in wich called Lee­way – who women get away from es­ti­cally vi­o­lent part-

Fo­cus

he only way I can see it is rn a neg­a­tive into a pos­i­tive. ot it will eat you up. If someg bad hap­pens, you have to make ething good out of it be­cause if you’ll be con­sumed by your own grief. So that’s what we’re try­ing to do. Fo­cus on stuff that helps other peo­ple and brings joy – and I sup­pose that helps me as well, in a self­ish way.”

McAuley came through at Cam­bridge United to be­come a first team reg­u­lar and earn Eng­land C caps, be­fore go­ing on to play for Dartford, Chelms­ford City, Low­est­oft and now South­ern League Premier Cen­tral King’s Lynn, who he joined in the sum­mer.

“It’s done me the world of good, on and off the pitch – I’m re­ally en­joy­ing it,” he says.

“I can’t speak highly enough of (man­ager) Ian Cul­ver­house. He’s coached at Nor­wich and As­ton Villa in the Premier League and he’s un­be­liev­able.

“I en­joy train­ing, I en­joy the boys and go­ing in. For the level we’re at, King’s Lynn are such a good foot­balling side. Ev­ery­thing is about play­ing foot­ball and we play some re­ally nice stuff. I can’t stress enough how en­joy­able it is. It’s a nice ground, good fans – ev­ery­thing is done prop­erly.” And what about those goals? “It’s funny as a cen­tre-half when you score those sort of goals be­cause no one ex­pects it, do they?” McAuley laughs. “I al­ways knew my tal­ents were wasted at the back! “I’ve told all the lads if they want to stay be­hind af­ter train­ing to get a few tips then that’s fine. They won’t hear the end of it – I’ll be din­ing out on them for a while yet.”

Mem­ory

McAuley would love noth­ing more than to win pro­mo­tion this sea­son. Since Ian Cul­ver­house re­turned to The Walks in Novem­ber fol­low­ing his sur­prise sum­mer de­par­ture, the Nor­folk club have forged their way up the ta­ble and into the play-off pic­ture.

Last sea­son they missed out in the pro­mo­tion fi­nal to Slough Town in the South­ern League Premier where the top five all hit 97 points or above the Linnets reached 100 – but still missed out on the ti­tle to Here­ford.

McAuley sees foot­ball pres­sures for what they are now and will en­joy the ride with his sis­ter’s mem­ory shin­ing bright.

“You can’t see it at the time, but it makes you more re­silient and stronger,” he says. “There’s not a lot now that can hap­pen in my life that’s go­ing to be worse than that.

“Noth­ing fazes me any­more. You’ve got to en­joy life and ap­pre­ci­ate what you have.”

“NOTH­ING FAZES ME NOW. THERE’S NOT A LOT THAT CAN HAP­PEN IN MY LIFE NOW THAT WILL BE WORSE THIS” THAN – Rory McAuley

PIC­TURES: Tim Smith

ES­CAPE ROUTE: Rory McAuley says foot­ball has given him a ‘re­lease’ fol­low­ing the tragic death of sis­ter Kerri, with McAuley, in­set UP AND OVER: McAuley nets against Rushall

JOY: McAuley cel­e­brates scor­ing MEN­TOR: Boss Ian Cul­ver­house HIGH-FLYER: McAuley’s scis­sor kick against Need­ham Mar­ket

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