Old friendships won't stand in the way of derby grit as Sheffield Wednesday take on Rotherham United
Given some of the pre-match amble presented ahead of tonight’s Carabao Cup second round tie between Rotherham United and Sheffield Wednesday, you’d be forgiven for thinking the match could end up resembling more of a reunion at times than a gnarled south Yorkshire derby.
Because with Lee Bullen in the Wednesday dugout – on a temporary basis for the time being – there are plenty of links between the two benches.
Earlier this week Millers coach and Bullen’s former Owls team mate Matt Hamshaw claimed the Scot was ‘the perfect fit’ for the club and that he should be given the job on a permanent basis.
And that has been followed up by one of Hamshaw’s charges, 34-year-old centre-half Richard Wood, doing the same.
Both were youngsters in the Wednesday side that achieved promotion from League One via the play-offs, with skipper Bullen taking on a fatherly figure role in the twilight of his career.
And having left Hillsborough in 2010, Bullen is delighted with what Wood has gone on to achieve, making over 100 appearances at both Coventry City and Rotherham.
Bullen said: “I am surprised how young he is - I thought he was about six years older than that! The big man seems to have gone on forever!
“He has had a hell of a lot of highlights in his career and obviously scoring the two goals at Wembley for his club in the play-offs.
“He has been a fantastic servant. He was brilliant to play alongside at Wednesday and he has gone on to Rotherham and possibly become a club legend there. It would be great to see him.
“I hope he is on the park. He was frustrated last year to be on the bench. He actually does alright quite often against us.”
Hamshaw, 37, battled injuries throughout his career but has formed a fledgling coaching partnership with Rotherham manager Paul Warne, another friend of Bullen’s.
The Scot admitted that, given the relationships shared between the two dugouts, there is always an extra tinge of extra competitiveness in the Rotherham clash. And as he looks towards his eighth week in temporary charge, he is not expecting any favour to be handed over the technical area.
“A lot of the team that I played with when we got promoted at Cardiff are all really good friends and we stay in touch,” Bullen said.
“It builds friendships for life when you get that type of success.”