Ramage banks on veterans for another successful tour of duty

Coventry City's Franck Moussa is tackled by Barnsley's Peter Ramage during the FA Cup Third Round match
Coventry City's Franck Moussa is tackled by Barnsley's Peter Ramage during the FA Cup Third Round match
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FOOTBALL did not feature in 
Peter Ramage’s TV viewing schedule last weekend since it resembled the most gruesome Hammer House of Horror collection imaginable.

Firstly, the team he supported as a boy and subsequently played for, Newcastle United, lost the Tyne-Wear derby. They were embarrassed 3-0 at home in front of a live televised audience for the second year in succession by arch-rivals Sunderland.

Then, Ramage and his Barnsley team-mates suffered a heart-breaking last-gasp derby loss at Sheffield Wednesday, who scored the only goal of the game in the eighth minute of stoppage time, which was cruel in the extreme on the Reds.

As Saturdays go, the North-Easterner has had better. He avoided X-rated footage of both defeats, missing that night’s Football League Show, Match of the Day and all the other highlights programmes dedicated to the weekend’s action.

It was a case of roll on Monday morning, when he and the Reds started again after a result which represented their toughest to take this term, according to the loan defender.

Ramage, who has been pitted into an intense Championship survival fight with his Barnsley colleagues, is desperate to hit back at home to Ipswich Town.

He said: “We’ve been on the back of a couple of pastings over the season, but with last Saturday being a derby game and the amount of effort we put in, to not get what we deserved was a real kick in the teeth.

“I still haven’t watched any football from last weekend, if I’m brutally honest. I went home, had a couple of glasses of Coca-Cola and went to bed. There might have been a little bit of something in them.”

It is a case of new year, same script for the Reds, busy fighting relegation fires for what seems the umpteenth occasion in their eight-season Championship tenure.

If last season’s great escape route was a different one to traverse, this year’s is just as burdensome, although they have plenty of experience upon which to draw.

Former manager David Flitcroft, who commandeered the Reds’ magnificent survival campaign in the second half of 2012-13, likened the Oakwell club’s mission to a war-time one. He was big on Churchillian speeches and unity on and off the pitch, with the battle finally won up the road in Huddersfield.

Ramage, who has a previous ‘medal’ in Championship survival at QPR in 2009-10, is the first to admit the Reds are up against it again, with some veterans from that tour of duty last season drawing upon their experiences to inspire a re-run.

He added: “The players who have come in recently have added to the group and are good men. I know it sounds a cliche, but you would go to war with all these men here. There’s no one moving off into different clicks and friendships.

“We had the recent trip to Ireland, which was good, and all went out for dinner and had a couple of drinks and everyone stuck together and socialised.

“We tried to organise a few things just to keep the group united and it was good to see. Hopefully, when it comes to Saturday, we’ll be together on the pitch.

“Steeley (Luke Steele), Dawse (Stephen Dawson) and T (Tom Kennedy) and everybody here last season have all mentioned what they did to get themselves out of this position.

“It’s not a nice position to be in, but it’s what we’ve been dealt with at the minute and have to get on with it.

“Hopefully, we can draw on their experience and knowledge.

“I remember at QPR when Neil Warnock came in and we were in a similar situation to Barnsley and went to Palace and it was a must-win game and we won that and stayed up with a couple of games to spare.

“But we were in the bottom three for quite large periods of that season when we had about five different managers and it was a crazy season. But it’s stood me in good stead.”

While Barnsley’s predicament is precarious, Ramage is adamant the Reds have the right personnel to survive if quality counts for anything.

Personal pats on the back do not carry much weight, according to the defender, whose plaudits for an outstanding rearguard action alongside central defensive partner Martin Cranie amid considerable adversity at Hillsborough, when the visitors ended with nine men, felt hollow in the final analysis.

“It’s nice to play well, but we need the points and I couldn’t really care about my own performance as long as we win, to be perfectly honest,” he added.

“We didn’t win, so it makes no difference. I thought we did alright as a partnership and understand each other.

“But at the end of the day, we got beaten 1-0, so I don’t really take personal performances into account, it’s all about the team.

“We just want to win games now. While everybody put their bodies on the line in difficult circumstances, ultimately we still got beaten 1-0 which is the harsh reality.

“I’d rather play rubbish and win 1-0, which, with all due respect, is what Sheffield Wednesday did.

“If we play poorly and win, we’ll take it.

“What happened is kind of being used as a motivational tool as we felt the timing of their goal was a little bit unjust.

“We will try and use that to our advantage and go hell for leather and try and get three points against Ipswich.”