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Family Affair: The Dawsons

23 May 2013

When Yeovil Town beat Brentford 2-1 in the npower League 1 Play-Off Final on Sunday, the club from Somerset confirmed its place in the second tier of English football for the first time in history.

While most of the Glovers' squad will be relishing the clashes against Leeds United, Birmingham City, Queens Park Rangers and FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic, amongst others, one player in the team's ranks can't wait to go up against Barnsley.

And that player is midfielder Kevin Dawson, who will finally complete a lifelong dream when he takes to the field to go up against the Tykes or, more specifically, his brother Stephen.

"I've never played against him before but I've looked up to him throughout my career. He's definitely been my idol and it will be an honour to share the same pitch as him," Kevin beamed.

While brother Stephen, 27, has carved out a professional career in England, starting as a youngster at Leicester City before spells with Mansfield Town, Bury and Leyton Orient, Kevin has only just come onto the scene in The Football League.

The 22-year-old has senior appearances under his belt for Sporting Fingal and Shelbourne in Ireland but made his move to England after good friend and Yeovil striker Paddy Madden had a quiet word with Glovers manager Gary Johnson.

"I came to Yeovil on trial at the end of November. I was playing in the Irish League and I was out of contract. Paddy lives just around the corner from me in Ireland and we're really good mates.

"He said he would have a word with his gaffer [Gary Johnson] and sure enough he did. I went over on trial the next day and I didn't come home, it just went from that meeting.

"My brother Stephen has been over in England since he was 16 and that has always given me something to aspire to. He was always the pedestal for me. He signed for Leicester City when I was 10, and I am used to seeing him as a full-time professional.

"Witnessing what my brother was doing first-hand probably made me that little bit more hungry, and I finally got a chance to train every day, full-time, in a professional set-up.

"It's all I've ever wanted and, after a lot of hard work and dedication, it's happened. It's a dream come true to be playing full-time football."

Many would have seen Johnson's decision to sign a relatively unknown young Irishman, who had no previous experience of English football, as a huge gamble.

But the same could be said about striker Madden, who had failed to set League 1 alight with his first Football League club, Carlisle United, finding the net just twice in over 30 appearances for the Cumbrians.

However, after netting 24 goals for the Glovers in the division this term, the capture of 23-year-old Madden was described by manager Johnson as 'the signing of the century'.

And it's hard to argue with the Huish Park boss, who won promotion with Yeovil to The Football League in 2003, after Madden scored Sunday's opener at Wembley in spectacular fashion, curling the ball past Bees 'keeper Simon Moore with the outside of his right boot.

Flatmate Kevin always knew what his fellow countryman had in his locker.

"Paddy has been phenomenal this season. He was the top goalscorer in the division and some of the goals he has scored have been magnificent. You only have to look at Sunday's goal to see what he's capable of.

"I always knew he could score of that type of goal [the opener at Wembley]. We've played against each other all our lives growing up and he's always been top goalscorer wherever he's been.

"It didn't work out for him at Carlisle but I knew once he got a run of games there was only one thing that was going to happen - he would score goals - and he's done that.

"I'm absolutely delighted for him. He can now come back to Ireland like myself and relax then start thinking about getting ready for the Championship."

A reunion with his family in Dublin was much-needed for Kevin as he hadn't seen them since a post-match embrace over the barriers at the national stadium following the final whistle at on Sunday.

He will have a chance to let promotion sink in further and reflect on the whirlwind season he's experienced, which culminated with the weekend's excitement and the celebrations after it, including Yeovil's open-top bus parade.

"Not in my wildest dreams did I think the season would end how it did, when I started. It's been phenomenal.

"I've played in the equivalent of an FA Cup Final in Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, which is like the biggest stadium in the Irish League, and there was 20-odd thousand there, but Wembley was just a bit bigger and it was a much more important game.

"The fans were great and the atmosphere was something else. When we came out all we could hear was our fans. It was incredible.

"Stephen was amongst the supporters at Wembley on Sunday and he was over the moon for me. He's coming home to Dublin in the next week or so, and I'm really looking forward to spending some time with him.

"There was just a few other family members with him on Sunday; my mum and dad were there, my two other brothers Brendan and Keith, my girlfriend, my whole family - aunties, uncles - as well as friends, they were all there. There was a massive crowd of them.

"That was along with all of Paddy's family, too. They were all sitting together. There was certainly a good Irish contingent there. I kept seeing Irish flags everywhere."

The time Kevin spends at home will also enable him to plan for the two duels against his older brother next term. And June 19th will be firmly marked in his calender, in bold and underlined, as that's fixture release day - when the date of the battle of the Dawsons will be announced.

Be sure to expect another Irish pilgrimage when the Tykes meet the Glovers and the Dawson brothers lock horns for the first time ever in a competitive football match.

"I think myself and my whole family will be keeping our eye out for the fixture release date, and I'm sure the whole family will come over for that one.

"Apart from my dad, though, who will probably have a panic attack watching us play against each other. He will probably sit at home in the pub, having a quiet one."

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