AFTER some epic tours of duty with his beloved Barnsley, Adam Hammill is on a war footing for his next – and potentially final – Reds assignment.
The Oakwell cult hero has enough moments to savour from successful battles during his time at the club to decorate a fair-sized scrapbook, gilded by two medals from the Reds’ Wembley sorties from the unforgettable Spring of 2016.
Another glory day beckons tomorrow should Barnsley prevail at Derby County’s Pride Park to secure the victory that they require to guarantee Championship safety.
Hugely-popular winger Hammill would not be human if the thought had not crossed his mind that helping the Reds retain their Championship status might represent a perfect send-off, with his current deal expiring in the summer.
Talk of the future can wait for the moment, although Hammill’s heartfelt and emotional applause to the home faithful when he exited the Oakwell stage that he adores after being substituted late on in last Saturday’s victory over Brentford did lead many to speculate that it may have represented the last occasion that he wore Barnsley red on home soil.
Hammill’s situation will become clearer later this month, but for the time being it is about the business in hand against tomorrow’s opponents Derby.
The play-off seeking Rams will not be short of collective motivation nor will the Reds’ relegation rivals, Burton Albion and Bolton Wanderers, on a momentous final day of destiny for a number of sides.
Hammill told The Yorkshire Post: “It (Derby) is a one-off game and it is no different for them.
“It will be a case of who wants it more. You saw the desire and determination on Saturday and we left it all on the pitch against Brentford.
“We have regrouped well this week and recovered and trained hard when we have needed to, and gone over the tactics and the game plan, and we are ready to go to war again.
If it is not meant to be, it is not meant to be. But it will not be for the lack of trying or effort. I will make sure everyone on the pitch knows we are in the trenches and we have got to do it together.Adam Hammill
“If it is not meant to be, it is not meant to be. But it will not be for the lack of trying or effort. I will make sure everyone on the pitch knows we are in the trenches and we have got to do it together. We have got to pull people through and look to our team-mates for inspiration.”
On his own motivation he added: “What has happened in the past is history. This is now and in the present. The most important thing is to stay in the league and it is not about my past glories.
“I would take my medals from Wembley and give them to someone if you could guarantee me that we would be safe on Sunday.
“That is the way you have got to be and the way I am. I would rather put the football club first than have any self-glory.”
That said, the 3,000-strong Reds contingent will be acutely aware that tomorrow could be a milestone occasion in more ways than one in possibly Hammill’s Barnsley swansong.
But for the 30-year-old – out of contract this summer and linked with a move to A-League side Perth Glory – it is all about team before self ahead of thoughts turning to his future.
On the prospect of it being his final Reds game, Hammill added: “It could possibly be, but there are much more important things on the burner at the minute and that is Sunday’s game.
“There is no time for sentiment and football waits for no one.
“The club will continue to move forward with or without me. If it does happen to be my last game I would like to go on record and thank everyone associated with the football club and the fans. But I do not know what is going to happen.
“We have had a marvellous ride together. Let us just get Sunday out of the way and we will cross that bridge when it comes.
“I am just going to enjoy Sunday and what is hopefully going to be a memorable day for Barnsley Football Club, fans and players.
“The Brentford game restored the faith that the fans showed in us and we repaid them with a performance. We owed them it.
“We spoke about leaving everything on the pitch and taking it into the last game and having destiny in our own hands, which is good. As long as we take care of our own business then we are not going to think about other people’s.
“There are a few squeaky bums around. That is the drama of the Championship and the league is so competitive.
“For me, you have got to enjoy it and walk out with your chest out and your head held high and put a performance on for the fans and you and your family. We want to be playing in the division next year and it is where the club deserves to be.”
Hammill may be rather more concerned with contemporary matters than history at present, but one choice memory from the past has provided particular motivation this week.
Nine years ago the Liverpudlian was part of a Reds’ line-up who triumphed 2-1 at Plymouth Argyle on the final day of the 2008-09 season to book their safety – finding the net in the process for Simon Davey’s side .
Hammill sported a crew-cut that day and has paid a visit to the barbers this week for another sharp, if not quite so severe, haircut ahead of this particular date with destiny.
While Home Park has provided Hammill with his own special moment from the past, Derby’s Pride Park was also the venue for a fine virtuoso strike from the winger in a 3-2 victory in the Reds’ last win there in September 2009.
Another rewind would not go amiss in that respect either.
“I saw something on Instagram that said it was nine years to the day when I scored on the last day at Plymouth and we won 2-1, hence the skinhead (cut) and I have gone back to my youth and thought I’d shave my head and repeat the scenario,” he added.
“It would be nice if I could score again and we won.”