being educated in the school of hard footballing knocks is playing its part in Barnsley’s outstanding start to the season.
This is the verdict of central defender Angus MacDonald, one of several players who are blossoming in the Championship after cutting their footballing teeth in the muck and nettles of non-league football.
The centre-back has stepped up seamlessly following the big-money sale of Alfie Mawson to Swansea after arriving from National League Torquay United at the start of August – as have several others.
MacDonald had it somewhat tough at the start of his career. Released by today’s opponents Reading, he had trials at Leicester and Birmingham before working his way back up the ranks, initially with Salisbury City.
His arrival at Oakwell underscores Barnsley’s successful recruitment strategy, with the Reds’ philosophy of bringing in young players eager to make their mark a few rungs up the footballing ladder bearing fruit.
He said: “Everyone is hungry and the likes of me, Robbo (Marc Roberts) and Andy (Yiadom) have come from the non-league and played at places like Braintree away on a Tuesday night and it makes you hungry to play at a Molineux on a Tuesday night.
“That is what we have been striving to achieve.
“Earlier in my career, I signed for Salisbury after leaving Reading and they obviously had money problems and everything and it was hard.
“I was looking to go into work before Torquay came knocking. Thankfully I have worked my way back up and I have found myself here.
“It still has not sunk in for me, but I am happy it has come about and I will work hard to keep in the side.”
MacDonald’s rise to prominence has seen the 23-year-old yet to experience a draw, let alone a defeat, with his three appearances for the club having all ended in victories.
He will strive for more of the same in today’s home encounter with the Royals, a club where his footballing career started.
He added: “I had good and bad times at Reading. I was there a long time and would have liked to have made an appearance.
“But it still did me a world of good.
“This game means a little bit more, but it will not change what I will do from Wolves or Preston, to be honest.
“I could not have asked for a better start.”