Promotions, relegations and Play-Off campaigns continue to bring pain and glory to the supporters of the clubs involved. It's part of what makes The Football League so special.

Carlisle United midfielder Jon-Paul McGovern has experienced the high and lows of the Play-Offs. He won with Sheffield Wednesday in 2005 before losing at Wembley with Swindon Town in 2010. Yet it's pain of a different kind that occupies a lot of his time away from the field, for McGovern has a penchant for tattoos.

"I enjoy the pain!" he laughs. "Is that a bit weird? Maybe it is weird... I know what's coming and I know it can hurt, but I still quite like it.

"The most pain I've had was a tattoo that took eight hours. After that amount of time the body starts to reject the ink and it can be painful. I used to work longer designs around my week to make sure I didn't get it done too close to a game or training."

McGovern joined his current employers from Swindon and it was during his Wiltshire stay that his passion for body art developed.

"I remember my first one," he recalls. "I was about 20, so I was quite young I suppose. It was a tribal band on my upper left arm. There was no reason behind it, although I'd looked at something similar for a while.

"Then, at Swindon, one of my team-mates, Lee Peacock, introduced me to a place in Stroud, called Qs. I had a good rapport with the guy there. Quite a few of us were getting tattoos done. Kevin Amankwaah, Barry Corr and Lee... and I discovered that as soon as I started I couldn't stop!"

McGovern's move to Wiltshire saw the former Celtic starlet reunited with Paul Sturrock, the duo having worked together at Sheffield Wednesday. His finest moments came in the 2009/10 season under Danny Wilson and by then the more attentive Robins supporters will have noticed McGovern's arms taking on an increasingly artistic look.

"I started at the top of my left arm. That developed into a sleeve from my left wrist to the existing tattoo on my shoulder. It now covers most of the front of my body! Both my pecs are covered, across my ribs and extends down my right arm to make a three-quarter length sleeve."

McGovern moved to Carlisle United in the summer of 2011 and the Scot admits his new team-mates weren't sure about his passion.

"I remember getting a few looks when the lads first saw it all," he explains. "I think they weren't sure what to make of it - and me - at first, but the banter followed and as soon as they realised I was quite loud we got to know each other, it was fine. A few of the lads ask me about it and I'm always happy to give advice."

Despite McGovern's torso being mostly covered he shows no signs of slowing down. Instead he's into tattoo art than ever before, with his sources of inspiration constantly evolving.

"I've started to think about having my back done. I like to sit down and design my own things and I'm now thinking of having some kind of sunrise.

"I love researching designs. I look into the history of tattoos and try and modify ones I like. The Rock [wrestler] has some nice stuff and I'm a big fan of the tattoo Tim Cahill has on his arm. I look at other people's and build my own designs based on my own influences.

"Most of the tattoos I have all mean something to me. I have a family tree on my left arm, which is probably my favourite. It has branches that feature names of family members, including my parents.

"I also have a skyline with stars as well as words that man a lot to me, such as protection, which relates to my son. I have his initials, too. So it's not just random stuff, it's all important to me. I think it's unique. I see it as a piece of art. Some people might not like it but you can't please everyone."

These days McGovern is concentrating on doing his best for Carlisle. A regular under Greg Abbott, McGovern has been a consistent figure for a club who this weekend could sneak into a Play-Off spot should they win their last game of the against Oldham Athletic and both Stevenage and Notts County fail to win theirs.

"It's not in our own hands but you never know. We've missed key players in recent weeks, particularly Lee Miller, who has been a key figure in our attack. But we'll give it a go. The main thing is I'm playing regularly and enjoying my football."

Whether Carlisle can have a go at promotion this season or next, it's clear McGovern has no regrets about his move north and the same applies to his tattoos.

"People have always said I'd regret it, but I don't think I will. It all includes words, names and designs that mean a lot to me."

The question is, will his passion become something more when he hangs up his boots?

"I've not given it much thought," he laughs. "Being a tattoo artist is a very skilled job which takes a lot of time. I do a lot of drawing in my own time, but there's a lot required to do it.

"I've heard of a few footballers who have got involved, either by funding a tattoo parlour or managing one. I've not thought about it too much, but I do like drawing and I do like giving advice to others."

Watch this space, then. Yet before that McGovern has unfinished business in npower League 1 which he hopes will culminate in promotion, if not this season then next. Only then, will the on-field pain of losing 2010 be put to rest.

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