There will not just be White Rose pride at stake when the Reds play host to Bradford City in front of the Sky TV cameras, but a bit of personal oneupmanship too with home goalkeeper Ross Turnbull locking horns with former Middlesbrough team-mates Andrew Davies and Gary Liddle.
All three came through the ranks at the Riverside under acclaimed Boro academy supremo Dave Parnaby and the banter got underway well ahead of tomorrow’s 3pm kick-off.
Turnbull and Davies live on the same estate in the north east, so the loser might just want to lock the door and firmly draw the curtains on Sunday night, with both now back in action following injury.
If Barnsley do prevail, it might also scupper Turnbull’s hopes of attending a much-anticipated pre-Christmas bash too.
Turnbull said: “Andrew texted me this week and I said, ‘You are back playing now’ as last weekend he played with a protective cast on.
“I have not seen him for a while actually. I know he has been meaning to drop a 30th birthday party invitation off for a while now and he texted to say he will give me it on Sunday. So I am looking forward to that.
“I did invite him around (on Friday), but he said he is getting his hair done. So the game must be on TV.
“It will be nice to see him and I know he is a big player for them. It is good to see him back playing as he’s had a few injury problems.
“I know Andrew and Gary from my Middlesbrough days and they are both very good players and it is going to be a tough game.”
Alongside his connections to his ex-Boro mates at Bradford, Turnbull also spent a brief loan spell at Valley Parade earlier in his career, playing two games on loan at the start of the 2004-05 campaign for the Bantams.
If circumstances had been difficult, the Bishop Auckland-born player, just over two weeks older than Davies, could have been lining up for the claret and amber tomorrow afternoon, having spoken to the club prior to moving to then Championship outfit Doncaster Rovers in the late summer of 2013.
Turnbull, who will turn 30 on January 4, added: “I spoke to Phil (Parkinson) about maybe joining them last summer and had a conversation with him.
“It was not meant to be; I just wanted to play as high as possible.
“But I respect Phil very much and Bradford as a football club is a big club. But obviously I decided to sign for Doncaster with them being in the Championship.
“That is football and sometimes you make decisions.
“Bradford is a big club like ourselves who should be aiming to get promoted to the Championship as well.
“The game is a local derby as well and should be a feisty affair, but hopefully we will come out on top. Everyone wants to play in big games and this is one of our big games of the season and one we look forward to and hopefully we can keep a positive result for the fans and ourselves.
“It will be a good test. We are looking forward to it and I am sure Bradford will be the same.”
Turnbull is not one for dressing up the Reds’ disappointing start to the season, which has seen them languish in the bottom half of the table for the most part.
The problems have been particularly pronounced at home, where Barnsley have lost three of their four fixtures with it far from being the fortress that Danny Wilson had been envisaging.
Yet the Reds head into the game with a big league result behind them, courtesy of a impressive 1-0 victory at Keith Hill’s Rochdale when the visitors’ team ethic was stirring which augured well for the late autumn and winter grind.
Turnbull admits that result will be wasted if the Reds do not get a positive result tomorrow, but at least Spotland was a start, with the lion-hearted contribution of Turnbull’s fellow north-easterner and match-winner on the day, Peter Ramage, leading the way.
He said: “The Rochdale performance was fantastic. It was a real good team display and that is what it has got to be from now on.
“We are striving to put a run of results together and try and climb the table because where we are at the moment is not where we want to be.
“It is down to us as a group of staff and players and fans to get together to get the club back to where it should be.
“Rambo (Ramage) came in at the weekend and was absolutely fantastic. He’s an experienced player and it made a big difference.
“That bit of experience can help in and around the dressing room and on the pitch.”