The Richard Wood Column: Rotherham United's captain delivers his latest tales while lazing on a Mediterranean beach

The Richard Wood Column: Rotherham United's captain delivers his latest tales while lazing on a Mediterranean beach

By Paul Davis | 24/07/2020

The Richard Wood Column: Rotherham United's captain delivers his latest tales while lazing on a Mediterranean beach
I reckon my back garden will look a bit like this soon. Read on to find out why.

GREETINGS from sunny Majorca!

The Gaffer has given all the players a week off so I’m on column duty while I’m sitting on the beach with my family in Portals in the Palma Nova area.

He’s allowed us to have a break now because we’ve been working hard in pre-season training. We’re back in on Monday and will give everything to gearing up for the Championship campaign.

The first few weeks of training have been hard, particularly because we haven’t had a start date for the season yet. It’s tough mentally when you don’t have a definite target to work towards.

The Gaffer has still been pushing us all the time. We’re all good lads so none of us mind putting in the work. There’s no moaning, no fuss. We’ve got a good base already, which is why he’s allowed us a bit of down time.

Me, Jade and the boys didn’t think we’d be getting a holiday this year because of coronavirus. We had to cancel two that we had booked.

For the Gaffer to give us the week off is unbelievable. This travel corridor has opened up so we’ve taken advantage of that.

I’ll have one or two beers, but within reason because I know I’ve got to come back and be on the ball again straightaway. I have to do some running while I’m out here.

Our head of player performance, Ross Burbeary, has got all of us doing stuff. It’s not as straightforward as a week off but it’s just nice to be abroad in the sun, getting that vitamin D.

I think everyone needs it mentally. We’ll all benefit from this week. Not everyone has gone away but everyone has been able to switch off their mind that little bit, which is nice.

There’s been no football on the beach with Jenson and Graye. We’ve got a little ball so we’ve been throwing that about. They’re both mad about crabbing so I’ve got my bucket and spade and little fishing net.

We’re constantly out hunting for crabs. I’m looking in the bucket now and there are three in there. They’re moving slowly and sideways. A bit like me!

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JAKE Cooper is 19 and I’m 35 and already our young defender has gone one better than me.

I’m keeping my eye on him since he went back to Gateshead for the National League North play-offs.

I’ve seen that he put them in front against Brackley Town in a 1-1- draw and then converted one of the penalties in the shoot-out.

That’s one more spot-kick than I’ve managed to score in my long career!

Gateshead are through to the semi-final this Saturday so I need to get in touch with him and congratulate him.

Jake is another player, like Semi, with a lot of attributes who just needs to learn how to make full use of them. He’s a good lad and I’m glad he’s doing well.

It’s brilliant experience for him at Gateshead. Any play-off match is a massive pressure game and you can’t buy the type of experience he’s getting. It’s better than playing for the reserves or in friendlies.

I’ve taken one penalty before: in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy against Burton Albion when I was at Coventry City in 2012.

Yes, of course I missed. The goalie saved it. I know you won’t believe me, but I hit it well, to be honest. There was no issue with it.

I’ve never minded taking a penalty. In fact, I’d be in the first five if I could but I don’t think any manager would let me.

Against Burton, I was around eighth or ninth up. We lost 10-9 after a 0-0 draw.

I’d never shirk one in the future. I’d be happy to take the first or the last, even with my 100 per cent failure record!

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BY the time you read this, my old centre-half partner at New York Stadium, Semi Ajayi, could be a Premier League player.

Automatic promotion for his team, West Bromwich Albion, depended on their result last night (Wednesday) against Queens Park Rangers.

I can definitely see Semi playing at that level. He’s got all the attributes to do well there. He was unbelievable when he was with us.

At the age I am now, I can see people growing into their roles, and I witnessed it with Semi. As he was becoming more experienced, he was getting better and better.

We got him out of nowhere from Cardiff City on loan initially. You wouldn’t have thought anything of it when he first came, but then you see him train and play and realise he has virtually everything.

He just needed to learn how to use all his attributes. He started to do that with us and since he moved to West Brom he’s been brilliant for them in the Championship.

His pace is his biggest strength. His stride length is just something else. It helps him to recover and get back in like lightning.

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PLEASE don’t tell Millers head groundsman Dave Fellowes this, but I’m having my lawn at Wood Towers astroturfed.

It was supposed to be happening this week, but it’s been delayed until next month because the guy who’s doing it has got quite a few jobs on.

My lads have wreaked havoc on our lawn because they’re playing football on it all the time. We have a net out there.

Certain areas of my grass are lovely but the area around the goalmouth is a disgrace. It’s just mud. The boys have just worn everything away.

I love cutting my grass, I love my stripes, so I will miss it.

I’ve seen the pictures of Dave’s relaid pitch at New York Stadium and it looks unbelievable.

He won’t approve of me going down the artificial route, will he?

Like I said, keep it quiet!

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I’M delighted Leeds United have finally won promotion back to the Premier League.

Everyone says I’m a Leeds fan. I sort of am but I’m not, if that makes any sense.

I’ve never been a massive follower, even though I had a season ticket at Elland Road for five years when I was a boy. As a player, I’m not really a fan of any side. Football is my job.

When I was growing up, I was a Leeds supporter, then I loved Sheffield Wednesday — I can almost hear Millers fans booing me — because I came through the academy there.

It’s good to see Leeds back where they belong because they’re an unbelievable club. The dedication, passion and size of their following is a joke.

I was watching during the time they were last in the Premier League and it was class. I was there for the Champions League semi-final against Valencia in 2001 when they drew 0-0 before losing the second leg 3-0. I have a lot friends who are Leeds fans.

I don’t know who I will support when I retire from playing. I understand why fans have only one club but I have a real affiliation with Rotherham, Wednesday and Leeds.

If Rotherham play Leeds when I’ve packed in playing, who would I want to win? No, don’t ask me. I’ll go for a draw!




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