Updated: Jul 2, 2020
Macclesfield Town midfielder Adam Dawson has opened up about his struggle with his mental health during his tenure at the struggling League Two side.
Image courtesy of: @adamryandawson
Speaking on the PCT Coaching Podcast, Dawson described the moment where he "broke down" when he found out he was unable to play for the club after a mix up with registration rules. Due to registration rules, once signing for Macclesfield, Dawson was then told he could not play for the remainder of the 2018/19 season as he had already played for AFC Telford and fellow Conference North side Chester.
Looking in from the outside the tricky winger could be classed as a somewhat 'journeyman' after already playing for 19 different football clubs despite only being 27 years of age. The phrase 'journeyman' is often associated in a negative sense when it comes to football- and in Dawson’s own words, it makes him look like a “bad egg”. However, if you delve deeper into the career of Adam Dawson, this is not the case.
Dawson started off his career at Bury before moving to Liverpool and then back to Bury after his release from the Premier League giants. It was in his second spell at Bury where he was 'boot boy' for now Plymouth Argyle manager Ryan Lowe. Ryan Lowe described in an episode on the I Had Trials Once Podcast that he had once sent Dawson to Cheshire Oaks to buy him a new pair of boots as Dawson had worn Lowe's boots once for training, something he wasn't happy about. If you would like to listen to that full I Had Trials Once podcast with Ryan Lowe then please click here to listen to the podcast with Ryan Lowe, Gareth Seddon and Jordan Hulme.
Since Bury, Dawson spent time at a number of different Premier League, Football League and Non-League clubs before signing for Macclesfield in January 2019.
Once signing for Macclesfield Town, Dawson explained that this was an opportunity to get back into the Football League and one that from the outside looking in, he would be foolish to turn down. Despite the contract being described as "peanuts" and "less than minimum wage", the contract was a performance based deal meaning the weekly wage would increase dependent on a number of factors such as appearances, goals and assists.
When Dawson was summoned into the office of then Macclesfield Town manager and former Arsenal legend Sol Campbell, he was told that he would be starting against Grimsby on the Saturday. Soon after he was told that he could not play for the rest of the season due to registration issues- a major blow to the winger after he had "gambled everything he had" to get back into the Football League. It was at this point that Dawson's mental health and well-being began to suffer. Sol Campbell has since left the club by 'mutual consent' despite keeping the club in the Football League last season and has since moved on to League One side Southend United.
Due to the low standard wage of the contract, Dawson described that he "couldn't even provide for his daughter" and shockingly at some points he ended up sleeping in his car overnight as he couldn't afford the petrol to get to and from training. Despite the struggles with his mental health, Dawson managed to "knuckle down and work hard in training" and was offered a new contract for the 2019/20 season after Macclesfield Town managed to survive relegation and stay in the Football League.
Since the start of the 2019/20 season, Macclesfield Town owner has failed to pay his staff on time of numerous occasions which has led to a number of point deductions.
Macclesfield Town players refused to play in their FA Cup First Round fixture against Isthmian Premier League side Kingstonian. This meant that the youth team played the fixture, they were beaten by four goals to nil.
Macclesfield Town players also went on strike and refused to play in fixtures against Crewe Alexandra and Plymouth Argyle. At the time of writing this article, Macclesfield Town are subject to a final disciplinary hearing by the EFL which may lead to a point deduction and see the club relegated from the Football League.
In what must have been a troubling time for all staff connected to the League Two club, it was even more troubling for Dawson who did not manage to make an appearance under former managers Sol Campbell and his predecessor Daryl McMahon and even current manager Mark Kennedy. This meant Dawson was still on a wage that was ‘lower than minimum wage’, and even many of those payments were paid late.
During Daryl McMahon’s tenure, Dawson explained that at times the "players were not paid for seven/eight weeks at the time". Due to the wavering of his mental health, Dawson went to Daryl McMahon and told him that he would be taking a break from the club and would be going to see a mental health counselor after advice from the Professional Footballers Association (PFA). Daryl McMahon, now manager of Conference side Dagenham and Redbridge was praised by Dawson for his handling of his situation. Dawson got in touch with Daryl McMahon on occasions to let him know he would not be able to make training as he "couldn’t afford to get in"- McMahon told him not to worry and backed the wingers’ decision to seek help.
Dawson bravely explained that going to a mental health counselor has helped him greatly, despite his initial reservations. He explained "the only way to get through it all is to get it off your chest and seek help even though you don’t think it will help". Throughout the interview, Dawson mentions the importance to speak up if you are struggling with your mental health. There are a number of mental health charities and we would actively advise getting in touch to speak to one of the following charities if you are struggling: MIND, Xen Zone or Rethink.
As part of the EFL’s partnership with mental health charity Mind, all EFL clubs are required to promote the importance of mental health on their social media channels and club websites. This was something at the time that Dawson was less than impressed- stating that the club "don’t care, they are doing it because they have to". Due to Macclesfield Town’s owner Amar AlKhadi’s reluctance to pay his playing, backroom and office staff on time, it would not be at all surprising to find out that many of Dawson’s colleagues were/are also struggling.
Despite all of these struggles, Dawson emphasised that his "passion for football is still so high" and his ambitions for the future are to ply his trade at a semi-professional level as well play Futsal where he hopes to play for England. Futsal is a played on a hard surface and mainly played indoors. With the smaller pitches, it is better suited to players with high levels of technique and quick dribbling ability.
During Dawson’s time at Conference side Southport, he had the opportunity to train for England futsal team but it would require taking some days off training. His request was refused by Southport’s then manager Kevin Davies as they needed him to play the following weekend. As it happened, Dawson did not even make it off the bench.
As well as his futsal aspirations, Dawson revealed that he is in the process of creating his own brand called SKILLTECHCOACHING- aimed at showcasing skill tutorials for youngsters with the aim to 1-1 coaching and potentially branching out to creating sports equipment in the future. Click here to visit the SKILLTECHCOACHING Instagram page.
From everyone at The Footy Guys, we admire Adam Dawson’s bravery to speak so openly about mental health in football.
Martyn Irvine, currently a coach at Port Vale, coaching the under 12 side, is the host of the PCT Podcast. If you would like to listen to the full interview with Adam Dawson please click the YouTube video below.
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