"I’ve told Dan already to sell his golf clubs. He won’t need those for at least six years" ... Rotherham United boss Paul Warne writes for this week's Advertiser

"I’ve told Dan already to sell his golf clubs. He won’t need those for at least six years" ... Rotherham United boss Paul Warne writes for this week's Advertiser

By Paul Davis | 11/03/2022

'I’ve told Dan already to sell his golf clubs. He won’t need those for at least six years' ... Rotherham United boss Paul Warne writes for this week's Advertiser

DAN Barlaser was one excited man last week. Anyone would have thought he’d just become a dad!

I’d like to publicly express my congratulations to our midfielder and his partner, Jade, on the birth of their first child — a boy, Emre, very nice name — a week last Tuesday.

I spoke to him on FaceTime the day after it happened. He called me because he was so buzzing about it all and wanted to let me have a look at his son.

It was lovely and I felt blessed that he was kind enough to let me into his life.

I was sitting there chatting away to him and his missus, and his little un was there asleep. I thought, how the world has changed.

When I was a player, I would never have FaceTimed my manager, Ronnie Moore, and gone: ‘Hey, Ronnie, here’s my son.’ I’m not sure if Ronnie even asked what my boy’s name was when I first became a dad. Not that FaceTime was an option back then.

I remember being a father and contract issues suddenly becoming a much bigger deal. When you’re single, you can just go back home and live with your mum and dad if you get released by a club. Suddenly, though, you have a partner, a mortgage, then a kid and you have that whole financial pressure to provide.

I was really fortunate that my missus and I had a similar attitude to children. They never slept in our bedroom or anything crazy like that.

When I had a game I always slept on a different floor of the house. Rachel was brilliant about it, although I’m not so sure everyone’s partner is like that, particularly among this generation.

Understandably, Dan has to do his bit, but I don’t want him to do his bit at three o’clock on a Saturday morning when he has a game the same day.

Parenthood definitely affected me. I enjoyed coming into training a lot more, that is for sure! That’s an awful thing to say but life with young children is very hard work! Rach deserves a gold medal for what she did. There is no way I could have done it. I always joked with her that if I left her and took the kids, I’ve have to go straight on the internet and buy myself some help.

Dan and his Jade, they’re young and full of energy and they’ll be all right. New parents these days get a lot of backing from their folks as well. I’m sure that Dan’s lovely mum, Alison, will be making regular trips down the A1 from Newcastle.

For Rach and I it was difficult because we lived a long, long from home. Our families were in Norfolk. When you have your first kid, you need the support of your loved ones who’ve had experience of it.

I said to Dan on FaceTime: ‘Don’t be scared to ask for help because no-one knows what they’re doing when they have their first baby.’

Our striker, Will Grigg, had his fourth child recently. It’s a piece of cake after that many. Grigg Junior is already walking, having driving lessons and taking A-levels.

You soon get used to being a parent. Within a week you can’t remember what life was like before you had a child. You just walk round in a fog of tiredness, sterilising and nappies.

I’ve told Dan already to sell his golf clubs. He won’t need those for at least six years. He will make an amazing dad, I have no doubts about that.

By the way, Ronnie, we called him Mack!

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TALKING with Dan the Dad got me thinking back to when Mack and, later, my daughter, Riley, came into the world.

Mack is 18 and in Rotherham United’s academy system while Riley is a couple of years younger but thinks she’s 25.

When it was time for Mack to be born, I was with the Millers and we were playing MK Dons away on the Saturday.

On the Friday morning Mrs W said she was having labour pains and our next-door neighbour gave her something called a ‘TENS’ machine that helped with the pain. Obviously I got my priorities right, left Rach with her new ‘TENS’ rig and went in to train because I didn’t want to lose my place in the team.

As soon as I got back she said ‘Look, Paul, I’m in labour’. I told her she’d be ages yet but as a precaution, I drove her to the hospital. We lived on Moorgate Road at the time so the trip to Rotherham District General was only a kilometre or so.

When we got there the midwife told us Rach was already ten centimetres dilated and ready to pop out a child at any second. God knows how she’d managed to not give birth on our kitchen floor, bless her. The nurses were looking at me with absolute disgust.

I’m led to believe that Dan managed to watch us play Shrewsbury Town on iFollow while Jade was in labour. There’s something about footballers not wanting to miss matches!

Anyway, back to Mack ... after he was born, I went home, had my last proper night’s sleep for the next six months and then drove to the team hotel on the morning of the MK game.

With Riley, she was due on a Saturday. We were playing against Bradford City so I left Rach at the hospital, went to the match, scored and then rushed back to be with her.

She didn’t give birth until a bit later so I sneaked a sleep for an hour, like an old man, in the chair next to her and woke up before the action really kicked off later that night. Afterwards, I went back to sleep with Riley on my chest. There’s no way I would have done that with our first one, I’d have been way too traumatised.

What a weekend that was: a new Warne child and a Warne goal. Two very rare events occurring at the same time, my friends!

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I’D like to say the loss to MK Dons was a blip but I won’t know until the next league game.

I  want us to turn up at Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday, be our real selves and show why we’re top of League One.

Our performance last weekend against the third-placed Dons wasn’t absolutely abhorrent and we were excellent three weeks ago against second-placed Wigan Athletic.

We haven’t suddenly become a poor side.

We gave three chances away against the Dons and they took two.

All three opportunities came from errors we shouldn’t have made.

In hindsight, them having a man sent off actually worked to their advantage.

I’ve never liked managing against ten men and I used to love being part of a ten-man team in my playing days.

When you’re in a side that have had a player sent off, you don’t have any responsibility to entertain. You can just sit in, be resilient, win tackles and throw-ins and that’s enough.

Then you might get an opportunity on the break and it might just get you a point or even a win.

I remember playing for the Millers at Northampton Town years ago and we beat them 1-0 when we were a man light after Guy Branston had got himself sent off early on. It felt like we’d won the Champions League.

You just have to dig in, dig in, dig in, and you get an extra ten per cent out of every player.

The team with 11 psychologically go the other way. They think ‘We’ve got a spare man here’ and they get a bit soft. I warned the lads about that at half-time.

Sport plays with your mind at times and pressure can mount. You’re at home, you’re in front and you know you shouldn’t throw it away from that position. Losing to ten men makes the defeat feel bigger.

I spoke to their manager, Liam Manning, afterwards and he said he believed losing a man helped them. They could just bank players behind the ball because there was no expectation on them.

They handled the situation brilliantly. They were disciplined and then broke with pace and caused us problems.

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FINGERS crossed our goalkeeper, Josh Vickers, is named Sky Bet League One Player of the Month for February.

He’s on the shortlist and, even though some excellent players are among the nominees, he’d be a worthy winner.

Josh conceded only one goal in seven matches throughout the month and pulled off some unbelievable saves.

If you also include the last two games of January and the first one in March, he kept nine clean sheets in ten matches.

I’ve been impressed with his form but I haven’t been surprised by it because I see every day in training how good he is.

He and fellow keeper Viktor Johansson are usually the first two in in the morning and, more often than not, the last two out. They take their trade very seriously.

Sometimes you need your goalkeeper to bail you out. There’s no better example than our 1-0 victory over Accrington Stanley last month of a goalkeeper single-handedly guaranteeing his team three points.

He also made an amazing save in the second half at Shrewsbury Town last week, a brilliant reflex stop when he kept out the follow-up shot after a 30-yarder had hit the post. That earned us another point.

The keepers are coached really well by Andy Warrington and competition is key. Josh, Viktor and young Josh Chapman drive each other on. If Andy didn’t turn up for work one day they’d take their own session. They’re students of the game and true professionals.

If Josh was injured or not well I wouldn’t go to bed on Friday night panicking that Viktor was playing. There’s only a hair’s breadth between them.