Barnsley striker Kieffer Moore finally gets chance to join promotion party

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THE emotion prevalent in Kieffer Moore’s voice when he speaks about what promotion with Barnsley would mean to him is simply impossible to ignore.

It has been a hard road not without its privations for the Reds’ top-scorer, which would make the sensation of going up this season all the more special.

Kieffer Moore

Kieffer Moore

A stressful summer coming to terms with the bitter realisation that the reason why he joined Barnsley – to play regular Championship football – had been taken away from him four months after joining from Ipswich in January, 2018 was bad enough.

Then factor in what looked like a season-ending head injury suffered in February that cast Moore in the guise of a frustrated and helpless onlooker as his Reds team-mates sweated it out in their quest to return to the second tier at the first time of asking following relegation last May.

There was also the psychological aspect for Moore.

After being a non-active participant during two previous promotion ‘parties’ earlier in his career not being fully involved in a third would have been a big cross to bear.

Thankfully there is the tantalising potential for a happy ending for Moore, who played his part in Rotherham United’s promotion to the Championship last season in a fruitful loan spell only to see the Millers effectively swap places with the Reds at the end of the campaign.

Back in the previous season of 2016-17, Moore spent an early-season loan stint at another side who were destined to be promoted in Forest Green Rovers, who were the National League play-off winners – beating Tranmere in the Wembley showpiece.

So it is fair to say that being on the pitch with a side who clinched promotion would mean the world to the 26-year-old.

On envisaging the Champagne-drenched scenes that accompany promotion, 18-goal Moore said: “I have played them out in my mind from day one of the season.

“The thing I have been thinking about most is getting on the field to feel the atmosphere if we do get promoted and have that feeling of having done my part.

“I just wanted to be on the grass to feel that actual feeling of promotion. If we do get it, it will be unreal.”

A special Easter that saw Barnsley secure wins against Shrewsbury and Plymouth Argyle and keep their quest for automatic promotion on the straight and narrow came with a major sweetener for the big striker.

A stirring ovation from the Oakwell faithful when he made his earlier than expected return to the first-team fray from the bench in Good Friday’s 2-1 win over the Shrews – after being ruled out for the season on medical advice at the end of February – represented a “spine-tingling” moment that he will never forget.

He will also recall events in his native county of Devon on Easter Monday for a good while, too, with family and friends among the crowd at Home Park as Moore – from nearby Torquay – took to the field in a 3-0 victory at Argyle.

Moore added: “To see me back on the pitch, I think they (Moore’s family) were more worried than anything. But it was good. They have not seen me play for a while now and for me to come back on the pitch after the extent of the injury I have had was special.

“They have suffered along with me and I think they were more thankful than I was.”

Moore’s gratitude also extends to the unstinting support of the club’s medical and coaching team and team-mates during his recuperation after suffering a horror head injury after falling awkwardly in the game at Gillingham on February 9.

All helped keep his spirits intact as he adjusted to the realisation that he would not, in all likelihood, be involved again this season on medical advice.

But after speaking to specialists and further referrals the striker has been given the all-clear and he insists that he feels as good as new, if not fitter.

This said the first aerial challenge when he came on last Friday represented a big moment and it was a cathartic one for him.

He said: “I had to be 100 per cent clear that I knew what I wanted to do and be the same Kieffer as I always am and I just showed no fear and just went for the ball and won the ball. The rest is history. I feel very comfortable and exactly the same.”

On getting the all-clear, Moore, named in the PFA’s League One team of the year this week, added: “He (the specialist) just saw what he wanted to see from me in the recovery stage. Obviously I have trained really hard and done a lot. It is one of those things where if he felt it was the right decision, that was the message.

“Looking back on it, it was very frustrating to watch the team do so well. The recovery stages of any protocol can also be quite tough and it is quite draining doing all the fitness work when you are seeing the lads training.

“But they have all helped me through it, with the physio staff and the management. They have pushed me along and kept me going and sane in a way.

“I cannot thank them enough for pushing me through it. Without them it would have been really hard.”