Rotherham United: Parkgate 0 Millers 7 ... The top trialist, Stubbs on signings and why deadly Danny is wary of Warne
He'd scored three goals, and all of them were crackers, but there was only one topic on Danny Ward's mind.
The striker mentioned Rotherham United’s fitness coach plenty more times than he referenced his quality treble after the Millers’ 7-0 win over Parkgate FC.
Clearly, Warne’s influence in pre-season training is leaving its scars on the 24-year-old who was one of Rotherham’s biggest weapons in last season’s Championship survival run-in and who hit the ground running in the club’s opening summer friendly.
Munching on a sandwich two-pack after showing his hunger for goals, he said: “Pre-season is going well and I’m feeling good.”
Then he gave a look of distaste, as if he’d just bitten down on a tough bit of filling. “But no-one enjoys the running. Well, not unless you’re one of those mad people like Warney.”
Soon he was off in search of more sandwiches and extra calories, which will no doubt be quickly shed when the Warne burn is applied again.
Ward’s second-half salvo may have came against a Northern Counties East League side many rungs below Rotherham on the football ladder, but there’s never a bad time to show your new boss what you can do.
Alan Stubbs, in charge of a Millers match for the first time, will have taken note of Ward’s contribution and also that of a number of trialists on show a day before the club embarked on an eight-day trip to Poland.
Midfielder Sessi D’Almeidi, a 20-year-old once of Paris St Germain B, and 31-year-old former Newcastle United midfielder or defender Ryan Taylor played the first half, while goalkeeper Chris Konopka, a 31-year-old American, ex-Charleroi right-back Belgian Guillaume Francois, 26, and German midfielder Benedikt Saller, 23, who has played for FSV Mainz, appeared after the break.
New signing Anthony Forde, switching easily from one wing to the other, also had an outing.
D’Almeidi was the pick of the bunch, sharp, mobile and athletic, covering the ground and driving forward with the ball from midfield.
“I thought the trialists performed reasonably well and have done themselves no harm,” Stubbs said.
“I think the bigger test will be next week in Poland against better opposition. We’ll get a better indication of whether or not we’re going to progress them into deals.
“It was good to be back in the dugout. There wasn’t much shouting today. I wouldn’t have expected to have much shouting to do today. It’s nice to get on the pitch and into the games.”
Heavy rain on Saturday morning hit the size of the crowd for the noon kick-off at Roundwood, the HQ Parkgate share with the Millers, but this was still a big day for the non-leaguers.
One hundred and forty four spectators had watched them lose 3-0 at home to Guiseley a week earlier. The figure here was 1,000 as the local lads battled gamely for half an hour before Rotherham’s superiority told.
Kirk Broadfoot headed the Millers in front just before the interval and the second half saw Saller, Richie Smallwood and Jerry Yates add to the lead, along with Ward.
Ward took advantage of an exquisite Yates lay-off to round the keeper and open his account, then curled in an absolute beauty off the underside of the bar before completing an excellent day’s work in the last minute as the outside of his left foot delivered a pinpoint finish.
“It’s nice to score, but today was all about fitness,” said the forward, mid-mouthful, turning the subject back to pre-season pain faster than you could say ‘hat-trick’.
“Training is really good, but some of the work is hard. Warney, he just loves it.”
There were only three notable absentees - captain Lee Frecklington, not risked because of a bug, centre-half Aimen Belaid, a week away from recovering from a groin injury, and super-fan John Norris, off on his jollies north of the border and accumulating Scottish grounds in much the same way he’s ticked off so many English ones in 20 years of never missing a competitive Millers fixture.
By the time he is back, Rotherham, interested in strikers Tom Bradshaw and Lee Gregory and midfielder Jake Forster-Caskey among others, may have new faces in place.
“The situation on signings is very fluid. I am busy, but I’d rather it be that way because if I wasn’t busy it would mean not much was going on,” Stubbs said. “I am busy. The process continues next week.
“The phone’s on 24 hours. If it’s four o’clock in the morning, I don’t care. I’ll take the call if it’s the right one. There could be incomings next week.
“We’ve made contact with a considerable amount of clubs and we literally are at the stage where we’re just waiting on an answer.”
The present squad gathered last night at Doncaster Airport to fly to Poland where they will play two matches, against Miedz Legnica tomorrow and Gornik Zabrze on Friday.
Ward is looking forward to it. “It should be good,” he said. “Two games in a week will bring us on and help our preparations for the coming season.
“We’re a close group anyway but you always bond more when you’re together all the time.”
Then his face, like the skies, clouded over. He knew Warney would be on the plane.
Rotherham United first half: Camp,Kelly, Broadfoot, Halford, Rose, Warren, D’Almeidi, Dawson, Taylor, Muskwe, Clarke-Harris (Bailey-King 25).
Rotherham United second half: Konopka, Francois, Thorpe, Wood, Mattock, Bailey-King, Saller, Smallwood, Forde, Yates, Ward.