BEING subbed before half-time is painful for any footballer.

Omari Patrick suffered that fate when he was hooked five minutes ahead of the interval at Harrogate.

To be fair, the striker probably took one for the team – there could have been several candidates with the non-league hosts battering a very young City 6-0 at the time.

Such a public show of disapproval will have hurt Patrick at the time.

But he can now file it away as another of the life experiences of being in the professional game.

The 22-year-old has packed plenty of those since his arrival at Valley Parade from Barnsley 14 months ago.

It was this corresponding weekend last year, in the soulless surroundings of an empty Shay in Halifax, that he convinced Stuart McCall to throw him straight in to League One combat.

Nobody needs reminding what happened next as Patrick popped up with a game-winning goal on his debut against Blackpool in front of an adoring Kop.

“To score the winner in your first professional game in your first professional season felt very special,” he recalled.

“Maybe I was a bit too high when I scored on my debut. But that is understandable.

“To a kid who had never been in professional football before to score in front of nearly 20,000 was unbelievable.

“But one thing I have definitely learned since then is never to get too high or too low. That is the most important lesson.”

A month after his Blackpool bow, Patrick was at it again with a classy curled effort in a midweek draw with Oxford. He was the name on Valley Parade lips.

But football’s habit of knocking you back down was just around the corner. A mid-season drop in form followed by a knee injury – during which time McCall made way for Simon Grayson – gave the rookie a glimpse into other uncertain aspects of the game.

After an initial period of feeling down in the dumps, Patrick takes a philosophical view to the times that will challenge any player.

He added: “I’m quite an inner person because I’d never been involved in it before. I’d go home and beat myself up because I knew it wasn’t good enough.

“Sometimes you want to do so well that you end up trying too hard and nothing happens for you.

“My team-mates told me to relax and I think that will benefit me. Again you can never be too low when you’re not performing.

“Then the injury was frustrating. But sometimes things go your way and it’s good to have the rest, to sit back and reflect because obviously I wasn’t performing as well as I was in the first half of the season.”

Like Tyrell Robinson and Callum Gunner, who signed at the same time, Patrick is already on his third boss in Michael Collins. Dealing with the change in voice – and coaching style – is another stage in his education.

“I had never been involved in a manager change before when Stuart McCall left,” he added. “But maybe it even motivated me a little bit more because it was a new face.

“But it’s a little bit like how it was when I came to Bradford the first time. Stuart had never seen me play before so I had that same feeling.

“It is good when you need to impress because you have a new gaffer.”

Patrick will have to fight to feature in the starting plans under Collins but he is happy to do so. That eventful first year has only strengthened his determination to make the grade.

“It’s kept me very grounded. I love football but it told me a lot about it also.

“Before you get into the game, you think you just go and play football in front of a few thousand people and it’s going to feel great. It will always be a high.

“You never think about the setbacks that could happen and how much they can impact you.

“When you’re in the physio room, everything just stopped.

“But I’m still grateful and I wouldn’t change anything that’s happened. I know it’s going to make me better for the future.

“Having a bad game now won’t affect me like it would have done at the start of the season. Now I’ve learned I can bounce back from it.

“I’ve got a lot to do. I need to work on my consistency but that’s all part of the learning curve to be better for the season.”