Our latest guest on Industry Insider is Matthew Donnelly, Medical Rehabilitation and Performance Lead at Accrington Stanley FC!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name is Matthew Donnelly and I am currently working as lead for Medical Rehabilitation and Performance at Accrington Stanley Football Club. Previously at Accrington, I was Assistant Therapist before somehow falling into the role of Medical Lead at the club.
Prior to arriving at Accrington, I worked for several clubs on sessional contracts. Working with Welsh Premier League club’s, at the time, Airbus UK FC and Bangor Cit. The first game I covered for Airbus UK FC after graduating was first round Europa League game and Bangor City FC who’s manager at the time was Blackpool legend Gary Taylor Fletcher.
This was alongside working for Wigan Athletic FC academy where I spent three years post graduation. I worked with every level at the club during my time here, from the u8s training sessions to working with the first team in a championship game versus Huddersfield.
I still keep my hand in with academy football with Everton FCs academy, helping out with their academy fixtures and tours.
What do you do in your current role?
Currently my role at Accrington focuses on the rehabilitation with the injured players. Fortunately, we have a small back room staff at the club so I am hands on with the injuries straight from the pitch to when they are returning back to play.
But as everyone who works in football or even sport knows you aren’t just doing one job, I also do the GPS at the club, help the Kitman Naz with kit on match days, being a ball boy on training days and most recently a COVID officer.
What does a normal week look like for you?
Mondays are COVID testing days and that is done first thing. Once we get the all clear from the tests, assessments of the weekends injuries are done before the lads have a light session and I head to the gym with the injured players for some S&C work and any treatment.
Tuesdays this season has typically been match days with the compacted fixture load. I arrive three hours before kick off to set up put the tapes, deep heat, drinks typical dressing room stuff out. Lads come in for treatment before the game then sit down for 90minutes, keep my fingers crossed and hope for no injuries. Plenty of swearing & cheering or moaning! Once the game is over, I collect the GPS and start uploading the data from the game.
Wednesday is a rare day off but occasionally it’s a day to get the lads in for recovery or to do extras with the injured players.
Thursday again is COVID testing, completing the two tests for the week. Again assessments of injuries before working in the gym or taking the injured players out on to the pitch for some conditioning work.
Fridays is prep for the Saturday game to get the lads right for the 90mins the next day. Injured lads typically get a beasting on a Friday Cardio Fridays, at the moment Ross Sykes is current Rowing champ with 2000m in 6mins 50s.
Saturday is match day, the day what can make or break your weekend. Same script as Tuesday match day, I try not to change anything I do, same routine same songs, same work out before I go to work unless we get beat then it changes for the next week.
Sunday is a recovery day which is optional for the lads. Some weeks I work with Everton’s academy covering the u8-16s fixtures at Finch Farm.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I ended up at Accrington through LinkedIn, the physio at the time at Accrington was Paul Caton and he saw my profile seeing I was looking for full time work in sport, he saw my experience and was happy to take a chance on me and I’m grateful he gave me my break.
I knew quite early on I wanted to work in sport, I just knew It wouldn’t be in a playing capacity. I had an interest in science and from going the game at a young age and seeing Mick Rathbone running on the pitch at Goodison, I thought I’d like to do that one day.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
Honestly, at the moment the thing I’m most excited for is getting the fans back. For first team games it makes such a difference around the place, it gives you that buzz of a match day and at the moment, it feels a lot of the time like pre season or academy fixtures.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
Always do the best I can do, no matter what it is or who it’s for. I think if you put that effort into everything you do in your day, people see it and do the same.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
The days and weeks are long, the money isn’t great but if you enjoy doing what you do stick with it and you’ll get your rewards.
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