DANNY BACK ON LEAGUE TRAIL AGAIN
FOCUS ON EX-MAN UTD JUNIOR AT OXFORD
THERE AREN’T many better football nurseries for your formative years than Manchester United’s. Danny Rose grew up playing alongside the likes of Gerard Pique, Giuseppe Rossi and Jonny Evans, was on the bench in the League Cup and captained the reserves.
But while some of his peers continued to live the dream at the top, Rose had to go to the bottom and start again.
Released by United in 2008, after being out of sight on loan at Oxford, Rose pitched up at part-time Newport County under former Wimbledon and Bolton striker Dean Holdsworth.
But rather than mope about and blame the rest of the world after a deal at Bristol Rovers fell through, Rose vowed to knuckle down and get back to where he wanted to be.
“When I first went to Newport it was part-time and I hated it but I worked hard,” said Rose, who scored in Oxford’s 2-1 win against Bury last week.
“You go to places like Thurrock and Lewes, real tough grass-roots football where you get to learn how to win a game the hard way.
“Those experiences help when you’re 2-1 up away to Portsmouth in front of 18,000 people and you need to do the ugly bits right.
“When I first went to the Conference South I guess my career could have gone either way. I thought I had a deal at Bristol Rovers but it suddenly didn’t happen. I could have stayed around that level and not really believed I’d get into the League or do what I have.
“I had a taste of the big time and I knew what the lifestyle could be like. Everyone wants to play in front of thousands and be idolised.
“Coming away from it is a big culture shock and then you realise how far away from it you are when you’re in the Conference South.”
It wasn’t long before Rose was showing why he had been so highly-thought of at Old Trafford.
Thoughtful and intelligent the midfielder helped Newport romp to the Conference South title and then enjoy a fine season in NonLeague’s top flight.
Call-ups to the England C squad duly followed where he was twice given the captain’s armband.
In January 2012 he joined Conference Premier rivals Fleetwood Town and looked to have reached his Football League dream with promotion.
But the moved turned sour – he effectively found out his time was up when his name was removed from the team list in the programme – and he went on loan to Aldershot.
“I didn’t want to be a bit-part player. I wanted to test myself in the Football League and Dean Holdsworth gave me that opportunity on loan with Aldershot,” Rose said.
“It wasn’t a successful season for the club and relegation was disap-
pointing but I managed to not do too bad myself.
“Oxford had tried to get me on loan in January but I’d already signed until the end of the season with Aldershot. Thankfully Chris Wilder kept his interest and came after me in the summer.”
What a busy summer it has been. Rose has had his hands full with his two new-born twin girls – Savannah and Shayana – while Oxford endured a pre-season favourite – Marine camp.
“You name it, we did it,” Rose, 25, said.“Press-ups, shuttle runs, pushing mini-buses.We had no sleep for about 30 hours, doing all sorts of exercises.
“We managed to get through it but there were some dark moments and all the lads were saying it was the hardest thing they’d ever done.
“We did a three mile hike where we had to carry 15 20kg bags between the squad. When we stopped there were shuttle runs and races before we had to hike back.
“At 9pm they told us to get off to bed and they’d see us in the morning. Then at 11.30pm they were banging on our windows, blowing whistles and dragging us out of bed to go and jump in a freezing ravine.
“But there wasn’t one player who complained and we all got on really well.When we were told it was over we celebrated like we’d won the league.”
U’s fans will be hoping for similar scenes at the end of a season that has started promisingly with wins at fancied Portsmouth and against fellow relegated side Bury.
With the likes of former Reading and Stoke City striker Dave Kitson joining, optimism fills the air around the Kassam Stadium.
“The club have always had the facilities and stadium to be a League One or Championship team, no doubt,” Rose said.
“We’ve recruited well with some really good players for this level. We’ve got to perform on a consistent basis and hopefully we can jump up the leagues.
“I’ve done it the hard way but I guess that makes it even more rewarding.”
HANDS FULL: Danny with twins Savannah and Shayana