Bad at quizzes, good for the Millers ... footballer Joe, dopey Joe, DJ Joe. The Advertiser caught up with Rotherham United defender Joe Mattock

By Paul Davis | 05/02/2019

Bad at quizzes, good for the Millers ... footballer Joe, dopey Joe, DJ Joe.  The Advertiser caught up with Rotherham United defender Joe Mattock
Joe Mattock and family

THE interview hasn't even started and already things aren't going at all well.

I have an appointment to see Joe Mattock and I'm keen to write a piece that demonstrates the Rotherham United defender isn't the daft character who manager Paul Warne famously refuses to have in his quiz team.

Only Mattock has gone to the wrong place.

Striker Michael Smith is sitting with a plate of chicken when I turn up at the club's Roundwood base on a Tuesday afternoon after training and the pair of us have a little quiz of our own.

Question: “Smudge, do you have any idea where Joe is?”

Answer: “Yep, he's driving to the stadium to meet you.”

I make a phone call and a few minutes later Mattock, wearing a hoody and skinny-fit jeans, comes bowling back through the Roundwood doors full of apologies and bashful smiles.

The Leicester-born 28-year-old has been a Rotherham player for three-and-a-half years and has made more appearances, 143, for the Millers than for any of his previous clubs, Leicester City, West Bromwich Albion, who paid £1.2 million for him, and Sheffield Wednesday.

Soon, he's telling me how he arrived at AESSEAL New York Stadium from the Owls in June 2015.

“I didn't have a great start at Wednesday,” he says. “I didn't get on with the manager. Argh, I've forgotten what he's called. I've got his name on the tip of my tongue.”

“Dave Jones?” I suggest. “That's him,” he continues. “Then Stuart Gray came in and played me all the time. I was told they thought they were going to offer me a new deal but I got injured six weeks before the end of my third year and it didn't happen. 

“The new chairman, (Dejphon) Chansiri, had just come in and everything was changing. They were spending big. Is it Chansiri? Have I said it right?

Scoring for the Millers

“Within a couple of weeks, Rotherham phoned me up. I went over and had a really good meeting with Steve Evans who was the gaffer at the time. I didn't want to move from the area. The missus and kids were settled and I'd bought a house. I jumped ship, came over here and the rest is history.

“I was really impressed with Steve. I'd heard rumours and stuff about him but he really convinced me to sign. The stadium helped too. I thought: 'Wow, this is all right.'

“It was a nice day as well ... little things ... it sort of made my mind up for me. I went and looked at the pitch and that was lovely. I just thought: 'You know what, this is the place for me.'”

We joke together as he forgets Jones' name. No wonder Warne won't go near him when it's quiz time. Mattock is actually bright, engaging company and speaks well on any number of topics. He just happens to be more prone than most to endearing moments of dopeyness.

Evans was gone soon after their encounter in the sun. The player helped secure Championship survival under Neil Warnock in his first season, suffered relegation after  the farce of Alan Stubbs and Kenny Jackett the following year and won promotion last term in Warne's first full campaign in charge.

“We went on that ten-game unbeaten streak under Neil,” the former England schoolboy international says. “That was an experience. I learned a lot that year about myself. 

“I realised I wasn't a young lad anymore and was coming into being a senior player and had to up my game in and around the training ground and on and off the pitch.”

Question: Was it really ten games unbeaten?

Answer: No, 11.

“The second year was tough, getting relegated,” he adds. “We knew by just past Christmas that we were down. Some of the lads who were here needed shipping out and that's what the gaffer (Warne) did. He's brought in some real good lads. 

“Even in pre-season before we won promotion from League One I knew we were ready to do something good. I'd been in football long enough to tell we had a really decent chance.

“I was promoted from League One with Leicester when I was 19. The year after, I was promoted to the Premier League with West Brom.

“When you're young you don't realise how much it should mean to you. You do when you're older, so when we went to Wembley last season and won in the play-off final, in front of all the family, in front of all the fans, it was a perfect day, one of the big highlights of my entire career.”

One of his big pals emerges from the dressing room and spots us chatting. “I told you the interview would be here,” Will Vaulks says. “I know,” Mattock replies, hanging his head and suddenly looking forlorn.

He's as smart as you like, though, when it comes to his passion away from football. He's a self-taught DJ who produces his own music and has already been signed to a record label.

His first EP, put together in the studio he's installed in his home near Oughtibridge, was released last October and a career in that field beckons when he hangs up his boots.

He and a friend run an event called Sonido. “It's Latin for 'sound',” he tells me proudly.

“The EP was a massive achievement for me. It was something I've been working on for years. I've done it all myself. I've not been to any classes. All I've done is look at a couple of YouTube tutorials when I've been stuck.”

Busy with his second career

Back to the day job and Mattock believes Rotherham are competitive enough to stay in the second tier, a far cry to 2016/17 when some of his teammates had wages much larger than their hearts.

“You get a few players who take the easy route, ones who think: 'I'm not having this. This is not me. The gaffer doesn't know what he's talking about.',” he says.

“If the coaches are not up to scratch in your opinion, it doesn't mean that you can't still go out there and give 100 per cent. Each coach is different. I've played under a lot of managers and coaches. They all have their own style. 

“One thing I have learned is that you have to focus on your own game. There is no excuse for not giving 100 per cent. You do what the coach says. If it doesn't work, at least you fail while trying to do what they want. A few players that season took the easy route.

“Me and the gaffer now, we're close. He's not just my coach and gaffer. We've been friends since I came here and he was fitness coach. He was always drilling into me not to settle for mediocrity, to make sure I was pushing myself all the time. He's got the best out of me because I do what he says. I respect him massively.”

What, even after his quiz jibe?

“There's intelligence and then there's football intelligence,” Mattock grins. “He's said to me before: 'You're not the best at quizzes but you get the game.' I'll take that. 

“I have to agree that I'm not the best. I've done a few. I'm all right at them. Not as good as some of the other lads, to be fair!”

I quiz him myself: “You do know you called me 'Steve' when I rang you earlier, don't you?”

“Yeah, I did,” he ruefully acknowledges. “Sorry about that. I'm terrible with names. My granddad is the same.”

Mattock the footballer

His granddad comes to all the home game as does his father, Neil. Teenage sister Mia accompanies his dad while his other sister, Robyn, aged 26, is an occasional spectator. Mum Donna doesn't go because she thinks she's a jinx!

He tells me his granddad is called Terry and I suppose all we can do is take his word for it.

Matchdays at AESSEAL New York Stadium are a family affair because long-time partner Alex and their kids, six-year-old Bella, and Joe Junior, three, are also regulars in the West Stand.

“Junior just copies everything I do,” Mattock says. “He wants to play football, he wants to dance to music, he wants to put his earphones on.

“Bella's quite brainy. I don't know where she's got that from, to be honest. She's as good as gold.

“I love being a dad. I've grown to love it more as I've got older. We had Bella when I was young. I was only 22. The past two or three years, it's been brilliant. We're a proper family. 

“I'm getting pushed about marriage. It will happen! Maybe in a couple of years. I could DJ at my own wedding — get the wedding done quick and then get the music going!”

His regard for Warne is obvious and I ask him which book he received when the manager was handing out self-help and psychology volumes to his squad as Christmas presents.

“I've got ... oh no, I've forgotten the name of it,” he says. Head of player performance Ross Burbeary, listening in from a few feet away, helps him out: “I think it's Painting by Numbers.”

Mattock laughs louder than anyone. He's a good man, a genial character comfortable in who he is, and I warm to him even more. 

When he leaves, I google 'sonido' and am delighted to discover it does indeed mean 'sound'.

Question: In Latin?

Answer: No, Spanish.

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Q&A

Best friend in football: Will Vaulks. Me and Will have just got really close. There's a good group of us – me, Newelly (Joe Newell), Will, Fordey (Anthony Forde), Woody (Richard Wood), Tayls (Jon Taylor). I could name a few more because we've really built up good relationships here. Danny Ward is a good friend as well. I'm going to his wedding in the summer. 

Best player ever played with: Wardy would have to be up there. I'll go for midfielder Graham Dorrans. We were at West Brom together. He was unbelievable. I'm surprised he didn't go on to bigger and better things.

Best player ever played against: When I played against Manchester City for Sheffield Wednesday, James Milner played. He was right up there. Then Frank Lampard (pictured) came on and he was unbelievable as well.

Funniest teammate: I'll give Will that. He's one of a kind. To be honest, we come from different backgrounds. We didn't have much growing up and the area was a bit rough whereas Will comes from a nice area and had a more monied bringing-up. When he first came to the club I wasn't too keen on him, to be honest, but he's grown on me over time. He was lively and loud. That's just how he is, a bit busy. Usually when you go to a new club you work your way in but he was like that from the get-go. He came and sat at the back of the bus and was dead loud. I'm thinking: 'Who's this kid here?' 

Best-dressed teammate: It's a matter of opinion, innit. Semi (Ajayi) has got good gear. He wears good clothes but it ain't clothes that I'd wear. Newelly wears good clobber as well. Similar gear to me.

Worst-dressed teammate: I'd have to say Woody. He dresses too much like a dad.

Who takes longest in the shower? Tayls. He just stands in there talking.

Best moment with Rotherham: Getting promoted at Wembley last May.

Worst Rotherham moment: Getting relegated. The back end of that year was tough. It was a bit of a grind. We went out against some of the bigger teams knowing we were going to get beat.

Most memorable Millers game: The Wembley final is the obvious one, but that game with Derby County at home when we came back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 when Neil Warnock was manager sticks in my mind. The stadium was electric. The fans were going mad. We couldn't believe we'd come back against such a good team. The  1-0 win over Portsmouth last season when I scored in the last minute in front of the kop is another good one. I'll go for the Portsmouth match.

What would do you if you weren't a footballer? I'd be a DJ. If it wasn't DJ-ing or football, I'd probably pick up some kind of trade. That's what my mates have done. I'd be an electrician or a plumber, I reckon. 

Roommate: Will. He's all right. I've had multiple roommates. It used to be Woody — I was with him on the pre-season tour — but I've been with Will throughout this season.

Favourite other sport: I like golf. I'm a nine-handicapper and play at Hillsborough and sometimes at Rotherham. I play quite a lot in the summer, never in the winter. It's too demanding, especially with football. After 25 games or so your body kind of shuts down a bit and you have to look after it. Technically, me and Will are the best golfers, but Tayls won our 'Rotherham Players Championship'.

************************

Joe the DJ

JOE Mattock will always put his football before his calling as a DJ but when he finally retires from the sport watch out for the name, Joe William.

That's how the Rotherham United defender is known in the music world where he is already making his mark.

“It's a proper hobby of mine,” he says. “I don't do it as much as I could. Now I've started to get a bigger name as a DJ, they want you to play on a Friday night and stuff.

“I don't want to be out until all hours. At the end of the day, I'm a footballer. I DJ only at my own events when I can set them up at the right time. I don't want it to interfere with football one little bit.”

Mattock, now aged 28, took his middle name to create his DJ identity and has been honing his talent for the last seven years
“I got into it when I was 21,” he says. “I didn't do any gigs until I was 24. My mate started his own event and would put me on first.

“I started my own event with a mate a couple of years ago doing Bank Holiday parties and that kind of thing. I do it back in my home town of Leicester. 

“I know more locals there and can pull in a decent crowd. It's hard work. You have to pay for venue, pay for the main DJ, sort out tickets and do a lot of advertising.”

'Joe William' plays to gatherings of up to 400 people, but production is where his future lies.

He produces his own music from scratch in his studio at his home near Oughtibridge, rather than 'sampling' other people's work, and a record company snapped up and released his first EP last year.

“I sent my tracks off in May,” he says. “They got straight back to me saying: 'We love them, we want to sign you up'. Then the EP got released in October. I was really made up. I do more producing than I do DJ-ing.”

He describes the process like this: “You start on the groove which is basically your drums, your hi-hats, your claps, your toms. Then you move on to your bass lines, then your synthesisers. I've got midi keyboards and drum machines. 

“I'll create a four-beat loop and put some effects on it, then change it a little bit through the track.”

As for his type of sound, he says: “My music is pretty underground. It's underground house music. It's becoming a lot more popular.”

If you're still in the dark, head to YouTube and check out a couple of DJ/production acts who Mattock particularly rates, Secondcity and Gorgon City. 

“I definitely want to make a career of it after football,” he says. “As long as my production work keeps progressing, there's no doubt it can end up full-time.”


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