Barnsley v Fulham: Reds plan fitting display to make Patrick Cryne proud

ADAM HAMMILL now has one more special Wembley memory which he will always treasure.

Few present will forget how the Barnsley winger’s golden touch lit up the feted venue twice in the space of 56 intoxicating Spring days in 2016 as the Reds claimed a magnificent Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and play-off final double.

Memories of Hammill’s stunning dual strikes will never fade, as the picture in his mind of an elated and emotionally-wrought Patrick Cryne in the Wembley dressing room after the promotion clincher against Millwall will not either.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

That moment, which will now still stay timeless for Hammill, will most likely come to the fore for him today when Oakwell pays its respects to the revered former Reds owner, who sadly passed away at the start of this week.

The Barnsley congregation will stand as one to remember Cryne. One of their own, a compassionate man whose duty of care to his club he adored was boundless.

That was never better exemplified by the unstinting work he put in, despite being gravely ill late last year, to ensure that this guardianship of his club should pass on to the right people to serve as his lasting legacy.

On his own abiding memory of Cryne, Hammill said: “I remember seeing Patrick in the (Wembley) dressing room and the lads were dancing and celebrating away. He had his hands over his face in complete shock and you could see just how much emotion was going through him and how much pride he had inside him.

“He was on cloud nine and you cannot take away what he has done for the football club. That was his dream (promotion at Wembley) and he achieved it and it was a truly magnificent moment for him. To see him and his family after it; it was wonderful.

Proud day: Ashley Fletcher, Adam Hammill and Conor Hourihane after Barnsley's play-off win at Wembley.

“He was beaming with pride and I think he was more elated than the players, if I am being honest. The club was so close to his heart.”

A quiet, unassuming man, Cryne struck up a strong relationship with Hammill during his two spells at Oakwell and provided wise counsel, too.

Having turned 30 on Thursday, the Liverpudlian is wearing his status as a senior professional increasingly well, but it has not always been that way, as he would be the first to admit.

At times, he has been headstrong, but a sage word or two from Cryne often provided food for thought. Never moreso after Hammill was involved in an altercation with head coach Paul Heckingbottom after being substituted in a home game with Newcastle in October, 2016.

Patrick Cryne

Hammil remains indebted for Cryne’s support, with the faith shown when he and Lee Johnson handed him a lifeline in the game back at his second home of Oakwell in the autumn of 2015 – when his career was on the rocks and many clubs would not have touched him with a bargepole – being something he will always be wholly grateful for.

Hammill added: “He brought me back as a player along with Lee Johnson and gave me the opportunity to play football again and put a smile back on my face. I am sure I returned the favour.

“There is a time when I spoke to him on a regular basis and he was pretty close to me.

“He was the first one when I was not behaving too well against Newcastle to tell me and I had to respect that. He told me to speak to the gaffer and apologise, which is what I did do. He was like a father figure in a way and brilliant.

Proud day: Ashley Fletcher, Adam Hammill and Conor Hourihane after Barnsley's play-off win at Wembley.

“He wanted nothing but the best for the club and me as a person. That is all I could ask of him.

“He gave me the platform to perform again. He did not question anything that previously went on. He knew me as a character, individual and what type of person I was. He was honest in that sense and gave me the platform to perform again and I will be truly grateful for that.

“For me, he was a big part of my career here and in my spells here, he was always genuine towards me when he spoke to me and I got on great with him.”

Given his close bond with Cryne, news of his death following a battle against cancer has understandably affected Hammill more than most in the Reds dressing room.

Many will see it as somewhat apt that the fixture fates have decreed that Cryne’s beloved Barnsley will play the first match after his sad passing at the footballing cathedral where he felt at home in Oakwell.

Inspiration on an emotionally-wrought afternoon will be in plentiful supply as the Reds intend to honour the memory of Cryne with a fitting display.

Patrick Cryne

Those in red certainly did that in September with a dramatic EFL Cup success over Derby County, with a poignant letter to supporters in the match-day programme from Cryne touching a chord not just with fans ahead of the game, but players, too.

On doing Cryne proud this afternoon, Hammill acknowledged: “We are going into Saturday and we have got to put on a performance to match his legacy.

“For me, he was a fantastic servant. He did wonderful things, not only for myself, but the football club.

“Saturday is about showing a respect and turning out in numbers to give Patrick the send-off he deserves. He has been truly magnificent for the football club.

“If you remember the Derby game, the lads were galvanised by the media output and we ended up getting the victory that day.

“If we can feed off that atmosphere and go out with the attitude that we are going to give him a great send-off, it will stand us in good stead.

“I pass on my condolences to his family and everyone connected with Patrick. I will go on record and say he is a truly great individual person.

“He will long live in my memory.”