Barnsley v Derby County: Adam Hammill believes journey is only just beginning

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ADAM HAMMILL has a definitive answer for all those who venture to write off his Championship credentials.

When mentioned to him about the doubters by The Yorkshire Post ahead of Barnsley’s home opener with Derby County, the determined look in his eye said everything.

Adam Hammill.'Barnsley FC v Hull City.  Pre-season friendly.  26 July 2016.  Picture Bruce Rollinson

Adam Hammill.'Barnsley FC v Hull City. Pre-season friendly. 26 July 2016. Picture Bruce Rollinson

“I hope they have,” he said with no hint of indignation or anger, just a steely resolve.

Plenty has been written about the winger and more probably will. But he is now at an age and stage of his career where it plainly does not concern him.

His happiness does, with the 28-year-old having found a happy equilibrium between work life and family, with a second child due on Wednesday and settled in a new home not too far from his place of work. Life is good.

It was not always that way, certainly not a few years back.

New Rotherham United signing Dominic Ball.

New Rotherham United signing Dominic Ball.

With a semblance of order and balance off the pitch, Hammill has reconstructed his career impressively after linking up with Barnsley for a second time.

After being the talisman in the Reds’ staggering Wembley double of Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and promotion glory – gilded by two picture-book goals which he will be able to recollect to his grandchildren when he is older – Hammill is attending to unfinished business in the Championship.

Following inglorious spells at Wolves and Huddersfield Town and tame loan stints at Rotherham United and Middlesbrough, Hammill is back at his spiritual footballing home of Oakwell.

He could not be happier and he has a message for the doubters who write him off – carry on.

Hammill said: “I hope they have, I really do. Because they will get a shock.

“Last year, I had a point to prove and I am always better when my back is against the wall with points to prove. It gives me that hunger, desire and determination to prove people wrong.

“If you are not motivated by testing yourself against better players, then I think you are in the wrong industry.”

Eager to repay Barnsley for the footballing lifeline they gave him, while others prevaricated last autumn, Hammill – who rebuffed interest from Lee Johnson’s Bristol City and Reading to sign a two-year deal with the Reds in June –added: “The support I get off the lads, staff and also the fans gives me that extra belief and confidence to go out on a Saturday and a Tuesday and perform.

“It is a feeling of having to give something back.

“There is a bond and connection between me and the fans and I honestly could not have forgiven myself if I did walk away as I felt we were on something special, a roller-coaster of a ride.

“The journey is only just beginning and I want to see the journey out.

“It is good on a personal level to get back to this level. I have got points to prove and I am enjoying each and every game and the fans have been magnificent.

“As a professional footballer, you should always look to improve. I have improved as a person a lot.

“I have let myself down and been disappointed in the Championship. But it is all for me to prove to people now and I have no doubts in my own abilities, I am convinced I will.

“I also think this is a team who can really build on something. It is a young, ambitious squad.”

It is also a squad which contains members in it who have drawn covetous glances from elsewhere, especially Alfie Mawson.

It is an open secret that former Oakwell head coach Johnson is desperate to take him to Ashton Gate, while other second-tier clubs have more than a passing interest in the talented defender.

Hammill, given the interest in him earlier in his career despite during his breakthrough first spell at Barnsley, is perfectly placed to comment on the situation amid continued speculation regarding Mawson’s future.

He has been there and his sage advice to Mawson comes from personal experience, with memories of his switch to Wolves days before his 23rd birthday in January, 2013 – a move that he would not have made with the benefit of hindsight – firmly in his mindset.

He added: “It can be difficult. People’s heads do get turned; that is natural. But I know Alfie well enough and he is focused.

“He is an outstanding player. The only advice I would give to him is in the past, I might have rushed into a move.

“His ability will get him there; I think he will go all the way. He is outstanding. He is still relatively young and he has got a lot of learning to do and there is no better place to learn his trade than under another defender in Hecky (coach Paul Heckingbottom).”

Second time around at Oakwell and seasoned by experience, Hammill is the first to admit he is a more rounded and mature individual, with becoming a father playing a big part in that process.

Having relocated and moved the family home from Liverpool, Hammill is enjoying the fringe benefits of cutting out the daily grind of negotiating Britain’s congested motorway network, though there is likely to be rather more disruption, with the sleepless nights expected to increase with the impending arrival of a little baby boy when the Reds hosts QPR.

On relocating close to Barnsley, he quipped: “It is lovely. I can get up at quarter-past-eight. Although not any more, there are no lie-ins with a young family.

“My little boy is due on Wednesday. But I have already got it sorted. My ‘old man’ is in the press box and any sign and he is going to whistle me!

“But I am sure that she (Hammill’s partner) can wait an extra day.”