PAUL Hurst has nudged ahead of his old Rotherham United team-mate Paul Warne in the managerial promotion stakes — and the Millers boss couldn't be happier.
Hurst's Grimsby Town beat Solihull Moors 2-1 at Wembley in the National League play-off final on Sunday to win promotion back to the Football League at the first attempt.
It was Hurst's fourth promotion as a boss against Warne's three and the Millers chief was quick to fire off a congratulatory text after their comeback victory, which also featured another ex-Miller in Ryan Taylor in the Mariners team.
“I'm absolutely buzzing for Hursty,” said Warne. “He’s a hard-working, solid citizen. He is straight with the players and wants them to be fit, as do I and all of Ronnie Moore's (old) boys. That's how we got success.
“His team played really well at Wembley and Hursty looked so stress-free on the side of the pitch. I couldn't believe how calm he was, although he was chewing gum like it was the last meal of his life!”
Hurst won the first of his promotions as a boss as a joint manager with Rob Scott at Ilkeston and then Boston more than a decade ago.
Hurst was in sole control at Grimsby when he led them into the Football League in 2016.
Two years later he took Shrewsbury Town to the League One play-off final where they came up short against the Millers at Wembley.
Now, after two short and ill-fated spells at Ipswich Town and Scunthorpe, he has steered the Mariners back to the Football League with assistant Chris Doig a year after they were relegated from League Two under their watch.
The former full-back who stacked up more than 400 appearances for the Millers succeeded Ian Holloway 18 months ago.
Warned added: “It's good that Grimsby had him back — not that they shouldn't because he is a brilliant manager and I don't think he should be managing at that level.
“Hursty went to Ipswich and it just didn't work out.
“After that he went to Scunthorpe and that wasn't an easy time because they're on a bit of a slide.
“When he went back to Grimsby, it was a bit like when Nathan Jones went back to Luton and he did really well after his time at Stoke.”
Warne recognises that Hurst will have some difficult decisions to make to shape a team fit enough to progress.
The Millers chief added: “In the interview after the game Paul said he’d enjoy the night and then the next day he'd have to have conversations with players and let them go.
“I text him straight away after that, saying 'people don't see that'. You have a player jumping on your back and you're thinking 'I'm releasing you tomorrow'.
“It's like the whole rainbow of emotion of being a manager and Hursty has done it for a few years now.
“He's experienced in his skin but it doesn't make those decisions any easier, like I had with some of mine this year.”
Grimsby went up the hard way in the playoffs, beating Notts County and big-spending Wrexham on their own grounds to book a trip to Wembley.
Hurst said: “The way we went down last season without fans due to Covid, it didn't sit right.
“I knew we were better than what the results suggested and to go up is an amazing feeling, I'm so pleased for everyone.”