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Interviews

INTERVIEW: My eyes lit up as it came towards me

Keeper Paul Farman on Saturday's important moment

12 October 2020

Keeper Paul Farman now has three clean sheets from the last four league games under his belt, and Saturday’s shut-out against Port Vale held particular significance with a second half penalty save followed almost immediately by United’s winning goal.

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Speaking about the result, which saw the Blues climb four places in the table, he said: “It’s great to get an away win under our belts, wherever it is, and obviously Port Vale are a good side.

“It’s a great feeling to have around the changing room and obviously when you get in there after a hard-fought game against a good club, it makes it a lot better as well.

“I think it’ll be crazy to see the stats for how much running the lads did because some of them will have covered some amount of ground. We’re a fit team, and we’ve got to use that to our advantage.”

And having gone the right way to save Tom Pope’s spot kick, he admitted that he’d been receiving a bit of grief from those closest to him about his previous success from similar situations.

“It has been a while,” he told us. “Even my wife has been taking the mick out of me because I haven’t saved one in a while. It’s great that I’ve done it and that it’s gone towards us getting a win.

“Being honest, I have no idea when the last one was, it’s been that long. It’s been absolutely ages. I messaged the wife as soon as I got in and said ‘stick that’ because I was buzzing.

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“I haven’t looked at the reply yet, but she’ll have had something to say. There might be a Krispy Kreme on the table for me when I get back.

“My mates and my family have been having a go at me for not saving them as well so it’s nice to have that to tell them. It’s even better because we went on to win it.

“We haven’t got a game on Tuesday so I’ll have a nice Sunday dinner, so it’ll make the gravy taste a bit better as well.”

Despite the save being his first for a while, he insisted that he always backs himself to make the stop as he stands on his line waiting for the kick to come.

“You’ve always got to back yourself in any situation,” he commented. “It’s your job, and it’s a cliché but when you’re called on you have to do your best to save it. Like I say, it’s been a while and it did feel good to get my hands on it.

“I’m not one of those who prepares too much. I don’t really look at what penalty takers do, but Tom’s last penalty against me was down the middle, so all you can do is gamble.

“I just don’t really like to watch or see what the history is, or see any videos before games, because I prefer to go off my gut instinct.

“When Tom stepped up I know everyone on his team will have expected him to score, and that’s when it comes down to what I do about that.”

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And then, having made the save, he got immediate assistance from Jon Mellish and Aaron Hayden as they stepped in to help to complete the clearance.

“It’s quality when the lads are willing to put their bodies on the line and help to pull each other out of those sticky moments,” he said. “I’ve saved it and it’s come back inside, but obviously my eyes lit up as it came towards me. I can’t wait to see what my face looked like.

“I managed to get a good contact on it and I think it was Jon Mellish who got there with the tackle. You wouldn’t expect it to be anybody else at the moment, would you!

“The important thing was that the game turned on that and it’s mad how these things happen. It’s all about hard work. Sometimes you’ll work hard and you get beat by two or three, but we’ve come here and done our work, and Jon has got another goal through his determination.

“His goals are coming from how much he’s willing to run, and that’s the same from everyone in the team. We’ve got the win from that goal but I’d still love it to be three or four, because when it’s only the one goal away at a good club it’s still very inviting for them.

“That’s when you do have to grit your teeth and put bodies on the line to get your result. Every keeper, keeper coach, manager and player likes a clean sheet. It shows you’re working hard when you get it and it definitely makes me happy when I go home on a Saturday night.”

Having got the first away win registered, he told us: “We were reminded of the away form because I think we were bottom of that. Coming here we knew we had to do a job and work extremely hard.

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“The gaffer does his work and we’re given a lot of information before a game. We can be given all that, but it’s up to us to take it on board and then take it out onto the pitch.”

On how he’s settling in following his summer move up north, he said: “It’s a great club and everybody is really friendly. I’m really enjoying it up here.

“It was a big change with moving up north with my whole family, but being close to some of my family members helps. I’ve done a lot of travelling over the last few years so I needed to move closer.

“I hate to say it but as you get older you have to look after your body more, so it’s great for me to be able to work this way.

“With the lads it’s really good because we’re just one big group and nobody misses out on anything. We are a young group, and I’ve never been one of the older players before, even though everybody keeps telling me I’m very immature.

“We do have a little bit of a keeper’s union but mostly everybody is in it together and we all want the same thing – to win games.”

“And importantly I think you can see we are coming together now,” he continued. “It’s always hard when there’s a lot of change at a club and in a team, and we had a lot of new faces, so it does take time to click.

“It’s looking good at the moment and a lot of it is about understanding each other and about what you’re going to do in the games. It even comes down to training and when you’re working on stuff, the lads get to know which side I favour, as an example, and it’s that type of thing that’s coming together nicely at the moment.

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“It was bizarre for me early on because I think we conceded six goals in two games and I couldn’t get near a thing. Sometimes that happens, but we’ve worked hard on the training pitch on a lot of things to eradicate the mistakes and to stop the scoring situations other teams were getting.

“When we put in a shift like we did today, where everyone has worked for each other and they’ve put their bodies on the line, there’s only good things can come of it.

“When games are going like those first couple all you can do is keep going and keep doing the work. I’ve worked hard through my whole career, I’ve had to because that’s just the way it is.

“I enjoy the work, and I think it would be harder if I didn’t. Coming in to do your best every day is the best part of the job for me. I’ll always graft and leave it all out there because I don’t want to be looking back on my career and thinking that I’ve shied away from any hard work.

“You might as well not be in the job if you don’t want to excel. There’s nothing worse than coming in when it’s been a defeat, but that’s when the older lads in the changing room have to get around it and pick people up. Thankfully we’ve done the work and we’re now getting our results.

“What we have here is competition for the starting place as well. Again, you’ve got to work hard because you know these lads are waiting. If I’m off it, the result is that the gaffer will put someone else in. I always believe that if you put the effort in you reap the rewards, and the keepers, along with Steve Collis, are making what we all do enjoyable.”

Click HERE to watch an interview with Paul Farman on iFollow United now.

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