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Barnsley v Bolton: Keeping Reds up would be bigger than Wembley heroics for Adam Hammill

Adam Hammill: Determined to keep Barnsley up.
Adam Hammill: Determined to keep Barnsley up.
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ADAM HAMMILL’S boyhood affiliations may have been with first club Liverpool, but it is another team in red which now clearly tugs upon his heartstrings the most.

In a nomadic footballing career, the Barnsley winger’s main source of happiness and sanctuary has been found in two spells at Oakwell, where a warm show of support has never been far away – even during some decidedly tough times.

It is the sort of thing that leaves an indelible mark on your soul.

South Yorkshire is now home to the Merseysider and his young family.

His place in Barnsley’s modern-day history is assured after his golden touch lit up Wembley twice in the space of 56 intoxicating Spring days in 2016 as the Reds claimed a magnificent Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and play-off final double, but basking in the glow of that achievement is not the Hammill way – even approaching the twilight of his career.

For him, personal glory comes a distinct second to team success. Nothing indicates his concern and duty of care towards Barnsley – ‘his’ club in many respects – more that the fact that he would gladly trade in his career-high moments at the home of football if it meant that the club can retain their Championship status at the end of this season.

I just want the football club to do well, whether that means I play or not. I wear my heart on my sleeve and the fans see that as refreshing but I just want the club to do well.

Barnsley’s Adam Hammill

Victory in this afternoon’s Roses ‘six-pointer’ is of seismic importance against fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers. A win could go a long way towards achieving survival and would see the hosts leapfrog the fourth-from-bottom visitors and move them out of the relegation zone.

When questioned as to whether today’s game represents Barnsley’s biggest since the League One play-off final win over Millwall in May, 2016, Hammill did not argue.

That epic moment may remain frozen in time for many, but the 30-year-old is rather more concerned with contemporary events as opposed to history.

If someone else makes themselves a hero by helping Barnsley secure their cherished second-tier status as opposed to him, then all well and good.

Hammill said: “I think that staying up would be a big achievement. I would sacrifice those goals (at Wembley) now to give us safety.

“I am not all about self-glory, although it might seem that way on a Saturday!

“But I just want the football club to do well, whether that means I play or not. I wear my heart on my sleeve and the fans see that as refreshing but I just want the club to do well. It is a massive week ahead.”

Alongside Matt Mills, Hammill is very much the senior voice in a largely youthful Reds dressing room, with his recent approach to finding himself out of the periphery after being jettisoned from Jose Morais’s first-team plans speaking volumes about his maturity these days.

Hammill, rather more headstrong in his younger days, plainly admits that he would have handled his demotion in a more histrionic way in days gone by, but he now approaches things with a sense of calm.

That said, it did stop the social media rumour mill suggesting that he was openly unhappy at his recent axing before returning to the fold for the Good Friday game with Bristol City.

It is something that Hammill refutes, saying his only concern is for the team.

Hammill, who was famously reproached by late Reds owner Patrick Cryne after reacting angrily to being substituted in a league game early on in the 2016-17 campaign, said: “You become more experienced and learn how to handle situations differently. If I had handled things with the same maturity as now, I do not know what would have panned out in my career. But that is history and tomorrow is a mystery.

“If I had thrown my toys out of the pram (recently), what difference would it have made? I would have been out for 12 games, wouldn’t I?

“You just get your head down, work hard and show him (Morais) a few bits here and there to show you can help the team. But, overall, the main focus is the team and not any individual.

“We need every single player in the dressing room to play a part whether that be starting, going in off the bench and even the guy in and around training who picks people up. I am sure that they all will and we will stay up and, in fact, I am positive.”

Hammill dispelled rumours of a clash with Morais, who dropped him for six games after he was hauled off in his first match in charge at home to Burton Albion on February 20.

“I do not know why people get these ideas. I get on with him fine and there are no problems from mine or the manager’s end. It is just the rumour mill. It is like people draw things from a hat.

“There are things that go on that people do not know about that happen in training. But, for me, it is good because it shows that they care. I would rather people show a little bit of frustration than not being fussed by it. A little bit of heart and passion is great for me.

“But I think a lot of things do get blown out of proportion. Everyone gets on with each other and respects each other here. There are no problems whatsoever.

“It is football. You will have a few managers throughout your career and they will not all be the same. Some are extravagant ones – and there are some boring ones, let me tell you. But you have got to deal with each personality and character. The players and the manager are professionals and it is down to both to get the best out of each other.

“He (Morais) has come in and started to get his message across and, for me, he is a nice guy and there is no problem with him. The lads are fully behind him and everyone is behind each other in the dressing room.

“We are sticking together and know what it takes to get the results on the board and right outcome at the end of the season.”