Paul Warne Column: The Rotherham United boss on the death of his dad, wife Rachel's ice-cream vice and how Joe Mattock played a part in his highlight of pre-season

By Paul Davis | 05/08/2019

Paul Warne Column: The Rotherham United boss on the death of his dad, wife Rachel's ice-cream vice and how Joe Mattock played a part in his highlight of pre-season
Paul Warne

THIS is my first column since the death of my dad, Russell.

Most of you will know that he died in June after a long battle with a lung problem.

He always used to say to me 'You can tell a man's worth by how many people come to his funeral'.

His funeral was back home in Norfolk and I gave a speech. More than 500 people were there. I can't tell you how proud that made me. I still fill up now when I think about it.

I am aware of how much support there was for me and my family at a difficult time from Millers fans on Twitter and Facebook.

In all honesty, I haven't been on social media so I haven't read any of it. Once a moth goes to a flame, it's going to keep going back, innit? Unfortunately, one of the down-sides of my job is that I can't go on it.

But the Advertiser's Paul Davis saw it and made sure I got to hear about it.

I've had loads of people come up to me in Meadowhall — it sounds like I'm a shopaholic — to say: 'I'm really sorry about your dad.'

Some then add 'While you here, can I have a photo?'. I honestly don't mind that!

The support has meant a lot to me. I've had loads of cards sent to the club. I had a nice one showing six ways to deal with losing a loved one. I've been really touched by it all.

I don't regret talking about my dad and his illness last season because I'm quite a personable bloke and talking about things is what I do.

But I don't want people to think I was talking about it because I was looking for sympathy. I just talked about it because it was in my head. I didn't want people thinking 'Oh god, the manager's moaning about his dad dying'. I hope it didn't come across like that.

If everyone has been kind about my dad on social media, then obviously that means a lot.

To all of you who took the time, my sincerest thanks.

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I TOOK the chance to go away a couple of times before we reported back for pre-season training.

I went to Turkey for the first time. I've always been 'I'm not sure I can do Turkey' but it was very nice.

Sadly, though, my son buzzed off the shopping and the 'hooky' gear that was everywhere. He was after Pucci T-shirts and all that. You have to negotiate. 'How much?'. '30 Euros'. 'Are you mental? I wouldn't pay £30 Euros for a real one'. He ended up with a fake Dsquared2 Icon T-shirt instead.

Other than that, Turkey was great. The weather and food were amazing. I really liked it.

The security at the airport in Turkey was something else. As you walk through the door, all your suitcases and all your bags have to go through a scanner straightaway, before you even get in. I know it takes time and all that, but it's a much better system.

Then you have another check, then when you get to the actual gate you get checked again. They take swabs and all sorts. That made me feel really safe. I was moaning at the time but when I was on the plane I was well happy.

I went to Dubrovnik with my missus, Rach, because the kids were on a school trip. We were in Croatia for five days.

The weather was horrendous, which was disappointing, but the actual place, the old city, is amazing. I love history and architecture and all that. The whole story behind the city walls and the fact they're still there is just something else.

There's no Starbucks, which is disgusting and great at the same time, no McDonald's, no Subways. It's all, like, normal bakers and cake-houses. I loved it.

We found this ice-cream shop just outside the walls. They sold pistachio ice cream. Rach had never had it before. It was amazing.

Everywhere we go now, she asks for it, but it's not as good as it was in Dubrovnik. I think she thinks we're going to fly back every weekend.

We had three nights where we were getting double scoops from this geezer at the shop. He was a lovely bloke. The next night, we had a meal and I said to her 'Do you want a dessert?'.

My missus loves a dessert, by the way, absolutely loves a dessert. That's the only reason we ever go out for a meal.

Down-time in Dubrovnik: I know what you're thinking ... Rach's legs are hairier than you thought

Then I said 'Do you want to grab one of your favourite ice creams on the way out because then we can walk home with it?'. We had to walk about a kilometre uphill but it was a calorie-burner, wasn't it, so I didn't mind.

We went to the ice-cream place and it was shut. It was like I'd told my missus I'd had an affair or something. She was absolutely heartbroken.

The next night, we went again and we literally got there right on opening time to make sure it wasn't shut. There were two blokes behind the till. The main guy said 'You were here last night, weren't you?'. I had to tell him that technically we were but that we'd had no ice cream.

They gave Rach a pistachio-with-chocolate one, or whatever it was she was having, and gave me, I don't know, some kind of baby-unicorn one or something.

I went to pay and the young geezer says 'No, my boss says the pistachio one is free. You're good customers'. I'm thinking 'He must be flirting with my wife but I'm from Yorkshire nowadays and I don't care'.

A free ice cream is a free ice cream, innit? He could have had a dance with my wife and a little kiss for a free ice cream.

We went off with a free pistachio ice cream and you can't believe how happy we were. It was like a second honeymoon. It totally made up for the weather.

Did Rach put on any weight with all these ice creams? The scales went missing when I got home so I'm not 100 per cent sure. You're more than welcome to ask her. Will I ask her? That's not a subject I'm going anywhere near, my friends. What do you think I am? Crazy?

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I'M really excited about the new League One campaign.

Pre-season has gone well and I talk more about my hopes elsewhere in these pages.

I'd rather look forward than back, but I want to pay tribute to two big players who left us this summer.

Will Vaulks and Semi Ajayi departed for Cardiff City and West Bromwich Albion in moves which brought a considerable amount of money into the club.

Will? I love the kid. He's done brilliantly for us on and off the pitch. I don't think any Rotherham fan will begrudge him playing at a higher level. I'm really pleased for him.

It was good business for the club. I tried to tie him to a longer contract at the start of last season but that was never going to happen. He still gave everything he had in his last year.

I love Semi as well. It's a great move for him. We had interest from a few clubs. West Brom offered the most money. Semi showed a desire to go there and so he should. He deserves to play in the Championship.

He had a year left on his contract and he's been magnificent for us. He definitely goes with my blessing.

I like to think that him and Will going is a motivating factor for the lads here. It shows that if they perform at a level week in, week out they can get a life-changing move as well.

He deserves the move for the two and a half years he has given us.

I'll be staying in touch with both of them and watching their progress with interest.

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WHAT has been the highlight of my pre-season? There is no question about it. It was me finding Joe Mattock on his phone at the training ground. I was absolutely buzzing.

That was a big fine for him. It should be big as well because being on your phone inside Roundwood in unacceptable. It is one of my no-go zones.

But he'd got his grandad up so he played the old 'granddad' card and pulled at  my heartstrings so I've reduced the amount significantly.

Had he said to me 'Look, Gaffer, I've got my granddad up. Can I have my phone on just in case he needs me?', I would have let him. But he didn't knock on my door.

The best thing was, I was on my Macbook and it flashed up on my screen 'Do you want to share the wifi password with Joe Mattock?'.

I went and found him straight away and said 'Oh, hiya, Mate. Have you got your phone?'. He went 'What? What?'. I said 'I'll give you one more chance, Mate. Have you got your phone?'. He said 'Yeah, I have, Gaffer'. I was so buzzing!

His 'granddad bonus' was considerable. I knocked the fine down a fair bit because I'm a kind man. To be honest, I know how close he is to his granddad and his granddad's health's not great. That got him the discount. That and the fact he admitted to it.

If he'd said 'No' the second time, I'd have treated him like I do my kids and doubled up the punishment.


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