Rotherham United v Sheffield Wednesday: Richard Wood backing old friend Lee Bullen for Owls job

IT is something not lost upon Rotherham United captain and former Sheffield Wednesday centre-back Richard Wood.

Rotherham United's Richard Wood: In action against former club Sheffield Wednesday.
Rotherham United's Richard Wood: In action against former club Sheffield Wednesday.

In the autumn of his playing career, Wood, who turned 34 in July, is not short of protégés to follow when his thoughts turn to a second career in football in coaching or management – a few years further down the line.

The sight of former Owls team-mate Lee Bullen patrolling the away technical area this evening will provide further inspiration, even if Wood is intent upon making it a far from straightforward night for his good friend.

Bullen was famously directing operations at the back during Wednesday’s League One play-off final victory over Hartlepool United at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium in 2005 – one of two undoubted career highlights for Wood, who was a victorious member of the Owls line-up on that feted Spring day.

Several Wednesday players from that successful 2004-05 campaign including current caretaker manager Bullen, Paul Heckingbottom, David Lucas and Lee Peacock have gone into coaching or management.

As have some of Wood’s other early guiding lights, including Graham Coughlan.

Wood, whose other high point arrived when he struck twice in the Millers’ Wembley play-off final win against Shrewsbury at Wembley in May, 2018, told The Yorkshire Post: “I played alongside Bully and Graham who I took a lot from and who has gone into management as has Heckingbottom.

“All those players who helped me at the time have gone into management – Dave Lucas is a goalkeeping coach, too.

“They were probably the best days of my career and it was no surprise that we got promoted or that several of the players would all go onto make good coaches and managers.

“I am doing my coaching (badges) at the moment and it is definitely something I am looking into. I did not want to do it a few years ago, but as I have got a bit older, I have been thinking of moving into coaching.”

Wood’s professional side may ensure that he will be doing everything in his power to turn over his former club tonight, but his hope that Bullen is handed the full-time position at Hillsborough is a sincere one.

Confident that Bullen would be a success, he added: “He is a great guy and was really good for me as a team-mate and captain. He was brilliant and really helped me and we still keep in touch now and I do hope he gets the job. I would love him to.

“He is a proper professional and has taken that into his coaching. He demands, but at the same time, he will be a good coach and man-manager with the lads. He will keep everybody happy and fits the bill.

“We had some good times and the image I have of Bully is the picture at Cardiff of him with a beer and the cup and he was sat down. It is quite an iconic picture: I remember walking past him in the dressing room.

“He was taking it all in and he was sat leaning against the wall.”

On tonight’s reunion with the Owls, he added: “I always look forward to the game and it is a good tie and there is an added bit of extra spice as the early rounds are sometimes not as glamorous in this competition.

“We have a few ex-players such as Pricey (Lewis Price) and Joe Mattock. The fans will want to win and it’ll be a good crowd and, hopefully, we get the right result.”

Last six games: Rotherham LWLLWW; Sheffield Wednesday LWWLWL.

Referee: C Breakspear (Surrey).

Last time: Rotherham 2 Sheffield Wednesday 2, February 19, 2019; Championship.