I’VE had a good life in football. As a player, as a fitness coach and then as a manager, I’ve always given everything 100 per cent.
If it all ended tomorrow I would be full of pride at what I’ve managed to achieve.
There have been bumps along the way, but I have never, ever given up.
Like many young men, I had loads of rejection, loads of ‘nearly’s.
I remember my parents kindly paying for me to stay in a hotel in Leytonstone when I was on trial at Leyton Orient. I wasted a week of my life because I didn’t even play in a game. It was like ‘Yeah, come for a trial’ but it wasn’t really a trial. There were loads of disappointments like that.
My route into full-time football was strange in that when I didn’t want it, I got it.
When it looked like I wasn’t going to make it as a pro, I decided I was going to go to university and take a completely different career path.
Just by playing football for enjoyment everything sort of fell at my feet. At the age of 24 I found myself signing for Wigan Athletic who spotted me when I played against them in a friendly for my Norfolk non-league side, Wroxham.
I was fortunate how I came into the game. It was a bit like when you’re trying to think of an answer to a crossword question. The more you think, the harder it is. Then you forget about it, take the dog for a walk and suddenly the answer comes to you.
The fact that I played professional football, and for as long as 15 years, amazes me even to this day. I’ve realised that I managed to play for so long because I tried to be the best version of myself that I could be all the time. I never wavered from that.
It wasn’t good enough to play at the highest level but it did get me into the Championship, which is pretty good.
Falling into management was a lot like becoming a pro. I never expected it. The chairman convinced me to do it with the line of thought that you don’t want to live with any regrets.
That is a very good thing to say to me if ever you want me to do something. If anyone tells me that, it’s like: ‘Jeez, I’ve got to have a go now.’
If I’d done it for three months and it had been absolutely horrendous, I might have regretted it. Actually, the first three months were horrendous, but I got through them and managed to prove — to myself as much as anything — that maybe I did have something to offer.
I’ve been doing it for more than four years now and if it all stopped now I would think that four years is a large chunk of time and I’d given it a fair crack.
I’ve done four years because of the success of the players. It’s always the players. My staff work really hard and I’ve selected them very well. Four years is a long time. At another club relegation might have got me the old tin tack. I’m fortunate that the chairman has stuck by me.
I’ve had a lot of fortune in my life and career and a lot of it has been through stubbornness and tenacity, I think.
I can’t see me ever not being in football. It wouldn’t necessarily have to be as a gaffer, though.
I’m not so proud that if I finished as manager I couldn’t accept any other role. If someone said ‘Do you want to work in the academy or do you want to be the kitman?’ I could imagine myself saying ‘Yeah, yeah, that would be great’. Anything in a tracksuit is right up my street. I’d be like a younger John Breckin!
I definitely have no regrets over my playing days. I wish possibly that I’d had a bit more confidence in myself but I don’t think I under-achieved; in fact, if I’m being honest, I over-achieved.
What would I do if I was to leave football? Good question.
I’ve always had the dream that I would have a white van, my dog would sit beside me — a bit like Postman Pat — and I would go out and about doing practical jobs for people.
There is only one downside to this: I have absolutely no practical skills that anyone would pay me for so I’d have zero income. I’d just drive round the streets all day with Chief for company; penniless but happy.
On the basis that my wife and kids might want me to actually earn some money, I’d probably go for a teaching/lecturing job — I qualified as a teacher before I went into full-time football — or I would follow my family’s DNA and move into finance. I’ve always had a bit of a penchant for that and several of my relatives have done it.
The way the world is at the moment with coronavirus, I’d consider anything. I could be the world’s funniest Amazon driver.
Whatever I did, I’d give it my best shot. I’d have to deliver the most Amazon parcels. Ding dong. ‘Hello, Amazon delivery.’ ‘Do you realise it’s 4am, Bald Delivery Man?’ ‘Yes, sorry about that, but I’m out with my dog in a white van helping people later. Sign here please.’
As long as it was a job where I didn’t have to be quiet, I think I’d enjoy it.
Having said that I have no practical talent — which is 100 per cent true — I have actually done some things round the house recently.
I’ve managed to purchase a fence panel because we need a new one. Actually erecting it will take a lot of help from my next-door neighbour but I’m pleased with myself so far.
Also, I’ve cleaned my car with a hose, which is the first time in years because I do like those little £5 drive-ins.
We had a problem with the drains at Warne Acres so I had to blast them out and get them moving with a good bit of rodding. That was a bad job, my friends, an horrendous job, in fact. You will know what I mean if you’ve ever done it.
It was definitely my job to do. It would have been beyond all morality for me to get my missus to do it, which is usually how I operate when there is any work to be done at home.
While I’m compiling this column, Mrs Warne is actually painting the inside of my shed. I do love that woman. I’ve been washing the brushes so I feel like I’m part of it but it’s not really the essence of the task, is it?
Sometimes I tell myself that not being able to do jobs is not through a lack of ability but down to a lack of the right tools.
I have a coat addiction and now I have too many coats. I’ve bought this big hanger to put them all on but I haven’t been able to attach it to the wall because I don’t have a power drill. I tried for around three hours with a screwdriver but that was just a pointless exercise in futility.
Someone in overalls and with a fancy toolbox is coming round to sort out a dodgy door for me. I’ll get them to do the hanger at the same time and then I’ll tell Rachel that I did it.
It will take them about ten minutes and I will find it all a bit emasculating. They repair my house while I make them a cup of tea.
Recently, I tried to mend our hot tap and ... I’m sorry, it’s still too raw. I thought I was ready to talk about it but I’m not.
At least with the hanger I’m paying somebody to do it and contributing to the economy.
My dad always had that view. Rather than spending ages failing to do something and then having to pay somebody to come and do it properly, he’d go straight to the professional.
He was a wise man, my dad.
I’d much rather devote everything I can to trying to keep the Millers in the Championship than hear a splash of piping-hot water and think: ‘Hey, I did that.’
FOOTBALL is a huge part of our lives and people need it even more right now as they cope with all the restrictions and pressures of coronavirus.
At the football club, we are well aware of our responsibility to try to lift the spirits of supporters and to try to put a smile on their faces.
We will always attack games and try to win them. That’s what we’re about. We never play for a draw.
If we don’t win, we have to try to change things and then try to win the next game.
Obviously, we’ve got loads of matches coming up after the international break, and we will give our all in every single one of them in our bid to stay in the Championship. We’re trying to bring a bit of sunshine to the people of Rotherham.
The job consumes me. I’m a natural worrier. If I had five years left to live and I could change one thing it would be that I wouldn’t worry as much as I do.
I am fully committed to this club. We work tirelessly as a management team and I like to think we are intrinsically linked to this club more than most other management teams are at theirs.
Defeats are really hard to take, although I have no issues with some losses. What I do have an issue with is when I think the performance isn’t up to standard.
When we are absolutely on song and playing to their best of our abilities, we really are a good team. We’ve been really unlucky with a few things — offside goals being allowed against us (Nottingham Forest and Reading at home) and clear penalties not being given for us (Swansea City and QPR away, Cardiff City at home) — and I don’t think we’ve collected as many points as we’ve deserved.
What gives me comfort as we gear up for the survival run-in is how much faith I have in the players.
If we go behind in a game, I’ll think: ‘Right, the lads have plenty to get back into this game.’ I have a real belief in them.
Also, we have some great players coming back from injury, which is brilliant. Having Jamie Lindsay, Clark Robertson, Chieo Ogbene and Joe Mattock available again will be a massive boost.
After all our postponements, our fixture schedule is insane. But we’re in a really good place and we are looking forward to the challenges ahead. I can honestly say that.
ROLL on the end of the Covid pandemic and the return to normality.
The build-up to the Watford game on Tuesday, with so many players and staff still feeling the effects of Covid, was like nothing I’ve ever experienced in football before.
Our Roundwood HQ reopened on the Monday, with a lot of the lads having just completed their ten-day self-isolation period.
Anyone who has been through this horrendous disease and come out the other side knows how debilitating it is. To come back after ten days of quarantine and suddenly be an elite athlete again is a massive, massive step.
I spent Monday evening checking with the lads to see how they’d come through their first day back. I wasn’t going to risk anyone’s health for a game of football.
I’m still self-isolating and won’t be free of quarantine until after this weekend. I’m okay thanks but I wouldn’t say I was feeling like a million dollars.