Teenager Dyche relishes 'magic moment' as he makes first Sixfields start for Cobblers
It may have been cold, wet, windy and horrible at Sixfields on Saturday... but for Max Dyche it really was a beautiful day!
That’s because the teenager was handed his first home start for the Cobblers in the crucial Sky Bet League Two clash against Leyton Orient.
And the central defender, a product of the club’s academy system, admitted it was ‘a magic moment’.
Indeed, as afternoons go, Saturday couldn’t have gone much better for the 18-year-old who is the son of former Cobblers defender, and current Burnley boss, Sean Dyche.
Turning up and hoping to be named on the bench, Dyche soon realised he was not only in the Town squad, but starting the game - stepping into the very sizeable shoes of Jon Guthrie, who was unable to play as he was with his wife who had gone into labour that morning.
“Truth be told, I walked into the changing room, saw I was the squad, looked at my normal spot on the end of the bench and somebody else was sitting there,” said Northampton-born Dyche, whose only other Town first-team appearance this season was as a substitute in the EFL Trophy draw with Walsall in October.
“I was a bit confused, and turned round to the other side of the changing room and my shirt was hanging up there, so I was pretty gobsmacked to be honest.
“It was a really exciting moment, and there is nothing but excitement from me, because I just love playing football and that’s what I want to keep doing.”
And he added: “I was ecstatic and so excited.
“It was pure adrenaline, pure excitement, as soon as I got out here, clapping the fans and turning round and seeing everyone and they were chanting for us, it was just brilliant.
“To get everyone round us in a tough game like that, it was really important.”
And the good times didn’t stop there for Dyche, who was making his second League start for the club, the other having come last season in a 4-0 defeat at Oxford United.
Because not only did he play his part in the team racking up a 10th clean sheet of the season, he also claimed a first senior assist, flicking Mitch Pinnock’s long throw into the path of the onrushing Sam Hoskins who poked home the only goal of the game on 41 minutes.
And Dyche, who played seven times while on loan at Kettering Town earlier in the season, was delighted with his day’s work.
“You take everything you can get, and it is a massive thing for me,” he said.
“This is my first start at Sixfields, this is my boyhood club, so it is a magic moment if you like.
“We felt strong as a team going into the game, and to come out the way we did, I think was just right.”
On his own very impressive performance, he added: “It is something for me to build on, having not played.
“That is my first 90 minutes since I was on loan at Kettering at the end of September, so to have that game and to play like that, I am really pleased.
“I have to just continue that and do my part for the team, but the most important thing is we got three points on the table and a clean sheet for the team.
“It was probably a rubbish game to watch, but a good game to play in in terms of the argy-bargy and getting the physical experience.
“This is the man’s game that I need to develop into, and I think I took a good step in the right direction.
"There are a lot of building blocks to be put down moving forward, but it was really good.”
The clean sheet was one that was very hard-earned, with the Cobblers having to defend for long periods, and Dyche played a serious role in that.
“It was a really tough game, and the weather made it pretty difficult as we couldn’t get any sort of hold in the game,” said the youngster. “It was good to score off another set-play, as we are big on that and work on it a lot in training.
“It was a really well ground out performance from us, we kept our cool when they were putting it on us, and we have managed to grind out the three points, a clean sheet, are second in the league and not looking too bad.”
So, what did manager Jon Brady say to Dyche in the changing room before sending him out for his first home league start?
“The manager spoke to us before the game, and he said ‘look, with changes good teams fit them in seamlessly’,” said the teenager.
"I am not saying I fitted in seamlessly, but coming in for a tough game, having those experienced players around me was helpful.
"They talked to me throughout, making sure I was staying on it and keeping my concentration which is a massive thing.
“It is those kind of experiences, and playing in those type of scrappy games, that is going to improve me as a player.”
It was also a special day for Dyche’s family.
His mum and sister were in the crowd at Sixfields, and will have been bursting with pride at his showing. Dyche certainly appreciates what they, and his dad, have done for him to get to this stage.
“They are massive for me, and it is them keeping me on it,” he said.
“Coming from Kettering and then being in and around the bench, I have gone from starting every week to not playing and it can have an impact on me a little bit.
"They made sure that I keep going, keep pushing, keep my attitude right and it is just little things like that, to keep my professionalism.
“They are the people that are driving me every day and it is great to have them in my corner.”