David Mooney is a man that finally feels at home. With a new contract, a new squad number and four goals already to his name, the Irishman believes after a difficult few years in England he is ready to start afresh and finally feels settled.
“I feel like it’s a fresh start this season with everything, I feel like a vital cog in the machine and thankfully my performances are standing up to that and that’s credit to everyone here from the manager, to Nuge (Kevin Nugent), Deardo (Kevin Dearden), Lee Southernwood (Fitness Coach), Mike the Physio, and even Ada the way he puts your kit out the way you want it and does things for you that people don’t really see. We’ve got a steady ship now and I feel settled,” reveals Mooney.
After joining the O’s from Reading in 2010, Mooney has gone from strength to strength bagging eight goals in a tricky first year at the Club before notching five more last season including a remarkable run of 10 in 12 games.
So what has been the secret for Mooney?
“I’ve got a great relationship with the manager that’s really developed over the last eight or nine months and I think that when the manager has faith in you and everything is kicking into gear it helps,” explained the 28-year-old.
“Also my family life is important to me being Irish and like a lot of Irish people, I’m very family orientated, and once I knew that my family were settled and my little one is in school, it makes a massive difference. I think once you get that stability behind you then it rubs off a bit on you and now obviously it helps even more knowing that I’m going to be staying here another two years. I’d loved to have signed for more like four years to be honest but two was all I could get!”
Having set the League of Ireland alight during his younger days with the likes of Shamrock Rovers and Cork City, Mooney decided to make the jump across the Irish Sea to pursue a career with Reading in 2008.
It was a big decision for him but things failed to go to plan when he was given just two starts for the Berkshire side and sent out on loan to the likes of Stockport, Norwich, Charlton and Colchester.
Mooney admits that the difficulties he faced left their mark and only recently has been able to put that chapter of his career to bed.
“I just happened to be lucky enough to be at Cork at a good time and was professional there and to be honest could have gone to a host of clubs but I chose Reading as it had a good Irish contingent and they sold the club really well to me. I think when I came over and came with a good reputation, the amount of knockbacks that I took really knocked the stuffing out of me and it’s only when you go on holiday and you talk about this and you reflect on it that I realise it probably knocked the wind out of me right up until some point last year really.
“That might sound stupid as it was three and a half years but when you’re constantly training with the kids and working so hard, putting in good performances and then not getting a look in, it’s hard. It was difficult as it was a big move for me and I felt like I’d had chosen it for the right reasons but promises were broken. I never got a fair crack of the whip and it’s tough and takes a lot of getting over and sometimes people from the outside looking in don’t really appreciate how difficult it is sometimes mentally to be a footballer.
“I think from that point of view, it has taken me a while to get past that stage of probably feeling a bit sorry for myself and feeling hard done by. I feel like I’m reaping the rewards now of being more positive and mentally strong and I really am enjoying my football.”
Indeed the rewards have been plenty in the early stages of this season as Mooney continues to form a dangerous partnership with Kevin Lisbie as the pair have notched seven between them in just four games already this season. Mooney admits that the goals stem from a special chemistry between the two.
“Me and Kevin get on well on and off the pitch. He’s great to play with, the way he uses his body I can come around defenders or I can drop in behind and I think he’s a good foil for me. This our third season together now and I think our partnership is important to us. It means something to us when either one of us scores, that’s the great thing. If he scores I’m so happy for him and when I score he’s so happy for me and I think that’s what good partnerships are all about. You could see from Saturday and the celebrations we were buzzing for each other and if one of us can keep scoring in every game then I think we’ve got a great chance.”
The pair now form the traditional 9 and 10 forward line after Mooney took over the number 10 shirt for this season, though leaving the number 39 behind him was not a decision he took lightly.
“I spoke to a few people at home about changing my number such as my Dad and they were like: “Yeah go for it”. I’m not big into the number thing, I had the number 39 because I’d done well with it at Cork but that was the only reason that I had it as I hoped to rekindle a bit of form. I wore 39 because when I went to Cork we had a big squad and the manager was keen on me wearing a number with 9 in it as I was a goalscorer but the numbers 9, 19, and 29 were all gone!
“It’s the first time I’ve worn 10 and I do enjoy wearing it and see myself as a bit of a number 10 so long may it last.”
The final piece of the jigsaw in Mooney’s transformation has been his relationship with the fans. After a rocky start, the forward is delighted to have won the O’s fans over.
“Having the fans behind me is brilliant. It’s one of them that I’ve managed to flip it around as when I first came they’ve probably seen me as a bit of a scapegoat as we were struggling and I was finding it hard to get any rhythm. But then on the flipside since I managed to get settled in the team and playing week in, week out with Kevin up front then they’ve taken to both of us great and I think that helps. Even when the announcer calls out our names there’s always cheers and little songs after our names and it does help. The more people you can get behind you, the better.
“I think when you do something good and the fans are all up and the song comes out, it gives you an extra boost and give you an extra three or four per cent to you game. The fans this season have been great already, my wife was at the Stevenage game with the little one who slept through the first half and my wife said to me that she couldn’t believe it because the noise from our fans was unbelievable. It gives all the boys a lift.”