Clayton Donaldson interview: Former Hull City, Bradford City, York City and Sheffield United striker on preparing for management - with a notepad and pen
In a playing career which has spanned over two decades, Clayton Donaldson's main accompaniment of note, certainly back in the day, was rather different - a diary and a pen.
When he started out in the professional realm at Hull City in the early noughties, the Bradfordian was urged to keep a journal of his experiences with managers and coaches, the good stuff and the not so good stuff.
Donaldson steadfastly did that over a nomadic journey which has seen him play for over ten clubs.
It was the best piece of advice he could have ever received and might just come in handy as he makes his first foray into player-management at National League North outfit Farsley Celtic. His 14th club.
Donaldson told The Yorkshire Post: "I remember one of the players at Hull told me to make sure I kept a note of things you have been taught or learned from managers.
"The training sessions that have been good or bad; the ones players 'got' and said: 'that's a great session' and the ones where they have gone 'no, that was poor and a waste of a car journey.'
"I have a diary of all those conversations and notes I have made. I am really happy I have done that, so I can look back and think that has worked or not.
"Football is the only thing I have known. The diary is a great tool to have and I am so proud of doing it. I'd always advise young players to do the same if they want to be in football for a long time.
"Keep a diary of everything just in case as you never know. I have an opportunity to lead a team now and be a head coach and use those philosophies I have been taught in the past.
"Football has also grown since I have started and you have to be very careful of what you pick and choose from way back as it's at another level now. Certain things that might have worked back then might not work right now.
"In the last few years, I have probably made more notes than further back."
Chris Wilder, Peter Taylor, Harry Redknapp, Gianfranco Zola, Mark Warburton, Uwe Rosler, Phil Parkinson are among the managers who Donaldson has worked under during his long and winding playing career to date.
He is not ready to hang up his boots yet and will lead from the front for Farsley in the 2023-24 campaign.
He has played under all types of characters who have espoused all kinds of football and they will have provided a fair bit of material for his journal, for sure.
Donaldson continued: "To be fair, nearly all of them have had an impact. I have been fortunate to have really good coaches. Uwe Rosler at Brentford. He was very instructive in what he did, which I like. He is very passionate and joined in.
"Gary Rowett was a bit laid back and more of a player and people person really and his man-management skills were top-notch. That's the positive side I'd take from him.
"Peter Taylor as well, he'd been there and done it. There were lots of good things he did. There were also things I felt he did wrong, but I always jotted things down and kept a good note of things of what managers did right and wrong and players' reactions to certain things.
"I have always kept that in my notepad and that will definitely be coming out (at Farsley).
"Man-management is the key for me. As a player still being in the changing rooms, I know what players want and don't like, what they moan about and don't moan about.
"I get that vision and you don't usually get that from a manager now. Being a player recently, I have got that experience first-hand of what players want.
"Man-management is always the number one topic in the changing room.
"It is important that players are kept aware and always in the loop regarding situations. It is not really hard to do, but sometimes managers miss that.
"At the end of the day, it is the players who step over the white line and the ones you have to keep onside and manage that.
"Players talk and if the players aren't happy, then they are not really going to perform.
"I have got a little head-start with that one and it will stand me in good stead.
"All players react to different things. If I feel like a player needs an arm around them, I will do that. If I feel like a player needs space, I will do that as well."
Alongside experiencing life under a plethora of manager 'types', Donaldson has experienced how the game has evolved since the start of the millennium.
He has sampled a fair bit of old-school life as a professional, but is also up to speed with the new school and what works.
"The big difference is the training times," he observed.
"Back in the day, it used to be long hours whereas now it is short, sharp stuff.
"Pre-season has also changed a lot now. Back in the day, it was a couple of weeks of running and now it is three or four days of running and then the balls are out straight away.
"But man-management is number one and back in the day, you never really got that. Nowadays, managers are getting more involved with players and it's definitely helping.
"Training techniques, analysis and dietary aspects have improved alongside second-day preparation and recovery after games has evolved as well. I will definitely be trying to implement that at Farsley."
Donaldson initially signed for Farsley as a player earlier in the close season, only for events to soon change.
Russ Wilcox stepped down from his role as manager and Donaldson was soon asked to lead the team.
At 39 and approaching the end of his playing days, it was well-timed for the Jamaican international, who has previously played for no less than seven Yorkshire clubs - hometown club Bradford, York City, Hull, Harrogate Town, Scarborough, Sheffield United and Halifax.
Donaldson took on some coaching duties at previous clubs Gainsborough Trinity and York and is now plainly ready for the step up.
He has also had one very memorable game in charge already at Gainsborough.
Donaldson, who took his Level Two coaching badges while at Birmingham City and attained his UEFA B licence at Bradford, said: "I have been working towards it since the latter stages of my playing career. I was in that transitional period and I have taken training over the last few seasons at York and Gainsborough to get a feel for it.
"I remember in a pre-season game at Gainsborough the chairman said: 'We want you to take the team'. I was like: 'ok' and it was something I wanted to get into and it was a perfect time for me to start and he gave me the full reins for the team.
"We were 5-0 up at half-time and I thought 'I can definitely get used to this...' It was the first time when I had been in charge of a team, it gave me that platform and they were great.
"I was part of the staff there (at Gainsborough), building up to the games with the preparation. It gave me that insight into what goes on in the background.
"Farsley is the perfect time and club to start out. It is a nice friendly club and the second biggest (football club) in Leeds. It's a community club which I like and they have stuff on every day, whether it is functions, the reserve or disability teams. There's always something going on at the ground which is great."
On his quickfire promotion to player-boss, he added: "I signed as a player. Obviously Russ resigned and they texted me and it was like: 'okay, what is the situation now..We need a new manager.'
"They have known I have always tried to get into that with my coaching stuff and being on the staff at Gainsborough and York.
"They just asked me questions for a few hours and when I met them, they said I'd be perfect for it.
"It was all out of blue, but at the same time it was something I wanted to do for a while."
In terms of the well-wishes from former colleagues since being handed the reins at Farsley, Donaldson’s phone has been inundated with texts.
"I have hardly had time to get through them all to be honest," he continued.
"I have been in the game a long time and the amount of messages I have had from previous players and managers has been overwhelming really and makes it all worthwhile."