Lichfield City defender Leighton McMenemy shared his thoughts on being awarded with player of the month for October, as well as City’s fantastic start to the campaign.
“Personally, getting that award is a good thing because it’s been a difficult transition for me coming from two leagues below this season”, McMenemy said. “Going through all the pre-season training and really enjoying it, then being given the chance to go into the first-team, it’s been a really good start for me personally. So, to get that award, after having some really tricky fixtures in October, was quite an achievement. So yeah, I’m happy with it.
“In terms of the season so far, it’s been an absolute whirlwind. We’ve just taken every game as it has come, and we’re just doing so well and the lads are a great group. And with the gaffers Ivor [Green] and Wayne [Chapman], they just give us the licence to play which has just been really enjoyable for me personally and for the team.”
The defender made a two-division leap over the summer when signing for Lichfield, and therefore had to adapt to the new challenge.
On adapting his game, the 21-year-old said: “A lot of it is to do with the concentration and being always on your toes and making sure that you’re clued up, you’re watching players off the ball as well as on the ball. That’s the main thing I’ve seen change, the concentration levels. You have got to be on the ball for every single second of the game because, if you slip, playing at this level, teams in this league will punish you. That’s been the biggest learning curve.
“Another thing has been the speed of play, it’s been much more intense coming up from two leagues below to where I am now and that’s obviously something that I’ve had to pick up as the weeks have progressed game by game and I think the good thing with it is that we haven’t had many training sessions, it’s been game after game after game. The fixture list has been so busy so I’ve just picked it up as I’ve gone along really.”
Now 11 unbeaten in the league and with just one defeat in all competitions to Nuneaton Borough in the FA Cup, Lichfield’s first few months of the season have been vastly impressive. Plenty of credit for that feat goes to the management team.
“For me it’s just the confidence that Ivor and Wayne give us; there’s never any pressure”, the defender revealed. “Because Lichfield have just come up to the division, there’s been no pressure whatsoever. We haven’t given ourselves pressure, the management team haven’t given us pressure, we’ve literally just taken it game by game and the confidence that they instilled in us throughout pre-season and going into the season has just given us that bit of confidence.
“One thing I think we do really well is that we just focus on ourselves, we’re not bothered about any other team. We literally focus on what we’re good at, how we implement it against the teams that we’re about to play, and then that’s it. We just go out and enjoy it and that’s one of the main things that I’ve enjoyed about the management is they give you that licence to go and enjoy your football. You go out, you smile, you embrace the game, and if it doesn’t come off, it doesn’t come off but, thankfully over the fixtures that we’ve had, we’ve done well and we’ve gotten through most of the games. Besides the FA Cup run, everything has been really good.
“Personally, with the run that we’re going on, I don’t see an issue with trying to push for promotion, I really don’t. I think that’s the goal that we as a collective can definitely achieve with the current way that we’re going. We’ve just got to keep up performances and keep on the ball.
“On a personal level, it’s just about me trying to keep as many clean sheets as I can as a defender. That can be what separates teams from winning the league and not. For me, it’s all about keeping clean sheets, enjoying my football and trying to get as many wins as possible and see how far we can really go.
“We’re a brand new team and people don’t understand that. In pre-season we all knitted together and we’ve just taken it by storm. That, for me, is really important and it’s also why Ivor doesn’t let us get ahead of ourselves because we are a brand new team and we are going to make mistakes and things aren’t always going to go to plan but, at the minute, everything is good.”