Midfielder Owen Moxon was literally centre stage at the annual EFL Awards event in London on Sunday evening as he joined 10 of his peers in the League Two team of the season following a first year back with the Blues that has seen him top the assist charts, weigh in with six goals and rattle up a series of stats that have made him a team of the week regular for just about every online and published outlet.
Rewind to pre-season, last summer, and nobody could have predicted that the confident 24-year-old would have had this much of an impact … apart from the 24-year-old himself who, it turns out, and as we are about to find out, had always backed himself to come good.
“When I was working part-time I did back myself to do it, and I was hoping I was going to get the opportunity,” he said, proudly holding his trophy. “I think it’s just a case that if you don’t back yourself then nobody else will.
“It’s one of the things I’ve looked at since being a young lad and getting released. You can take it the wrong way or you can use it as motivation to say right, I know what I want to go and do now.
“You can sort of – not so much prove people wrong, but at the same time maybe it is proving people wrong. I went and had three years full-time, and thoroughly enjoyed it, but because I left school I maybe didn’t realise how good I had it and how much I enjoyed it until I started working and playing part time.
“It was then about getting back to it and I always believed I was good enough to do that. I had a real belief that I could get back into it and I knew that when I did, I was going to succeed.
“Thankfully we’ve had a great season, I’m in a dressing room with brilliant players, there’s a brilliant manager and staff, it’s there to be fully enjoyed, and there’s no reason not to back yourself when it’s like that.”
Coming back to the present, and picking up the prestigious EFL award, we wondered what it was like for him to have swapped life as a delivery driver just 11 months ago for a place under the spotlight with football’s great and good.
“To be honest, I couldn’t see that much when I was up there because of the spotlights!” he joked. “It’s just something I’m really proud of because you’re sat in the same room as some incredible players, managers and coaches, and when you take a step back and think about it, it’s all a bit surreal.
“I want to thank all of the players in our dressing room because it wouldn’t be possible for me to get that award without them. Everyone has had a brilliant season and I’m sure there could have been quite a lot of players in that team, and who probably deserved to be, and obviously thanks to everybody at the club for giving me the opportunity to play here and end up with that award."
And he confirmed that having the trust of the gaffer has been a big help when it comes to positive individual and team performances.
“He tells me to get out there and do what I can do, and that definitely helps,” he agreed. “The gaffer has helped me to progress quite a lot this year, even if he hasn’t pulled me or done things separately with me.
“He’s given me the freedom to go out and play. I’ve played every game but one, when I was injured at Stevenage, so I’ve had the time out on the pitch to learn the league.
“I’ve played enough games in my career where I have that trust to go and learn for myself how to manage games at this level and get up to the standard. It’s the freedom he gives us all to go and play and if we provide the results in return it’s all good for everybody.”
With 15 assists and six goals it’s little surprise that he is in the running for a number of awards this term, but has he surprised himself with how well it’s gone?
“Yeah and no,” he replied. “Like I say, I always back myself to do it and all I do is go out and play my game.
“There have been times this season where I’ve maybe done well, but I’ve come off the pitch and been disappointed that I could have done more.
“My family say that isn’t a good trait to have because I maybe always beat myself up too much, even when I’ve done well, but it’s that need I have to want to go and do more.
“Football isn’t a long career, so if I can do that for the next however many years I’m in the game then I can sit back and enjoy what I’ve done. For now nothing will ever be good enough, I just want to keep doing more and more. That’s something that helps me to push on.”
A big weight off his shoulders was the goal against Stockport, his sixth of the season but his first in front of his home crowd.
“It was amazing to finally get that goal and going away from the football side of it for me personally and my family it meant a lot,” he said. “My mum got to see that goal, the others have all been away so she hasn’t seen any live, and my girlfriend was there as well.
“Sadly my brother was on the train for that one but he’s been at a few mad away days, so he’s seen them. My dad’s over in Russia so he was buzzing to see it, and all of his mates were here, they’ve got a box, so it was nice for a lot of people who I know in the ground.
“It’s something I’m really proud of and I’m able to say now that I’ve done it. With the games ticking down I was starting to think that it maybe wasn’t going to happen, and I really wanted to get my first goal at Brunton Park out of the way.
“It was good to get it, sadly it wasn’t the winner on the night, but it was nice to see it hit the back of the net.”
And as for being a fan who is part of all of this, he commented: “It’s amazing. It isn’t every year that you get something to shout about.
“Last season it ended up turning out well in the end after the gaffer came in, but they were obviously struggling a little bit after that.
“It changes in football so quickly and that’s why you have to enjoy the position you’re in. The fans are enjoying themselves with us and all we can ask is that they keep supporting us because they’ve been amazing for us.
“I’m sure there’ll be another big crowd on Saturday and hopefully we’ll do it together. Whatever happens will happen, we all want the same thing, so hopefully we’ll achieve that.
“If we go out at the weekend, in the last two games, in fact, and give it everything we’ve got, that’s something we can do and control. We can dictate how hard we work, but sometimes the result is going to be what it’s going to be.
“As long as we go and do everything we possibly can, and then if it doesn’t end up being good enough at the time, we can hold our hands up but still say that we gave it everything.
“I think there’s more than enough in that dressing room and we want to win the game on Saturday, then follow it up with a win at Sutton. If we do that we’ll see where it takes us, but everybody is bang up for it and fully focussed on the job we need to do.
“Doing that as a club would top everything else, 100 per cent. It’s nice to achieve things personally but I’d rather scrap all that for the team to go up. We’re all a team and it wouldn’t have been possible me getting this award personally if it wasn’t for them.
“I owe it all to them, and I just hope we can carry on the performances we’ve had recently, do the job in the last two games and who knows where it will take us.
“Automatic is something we all want and that’s what we’re all going for, just take it game by game. It would mean the world for us to go up and I’m sure it would be the same for every single player in that dressing room.”