Ross happy to go extra distance for Hibs
● Near 200-mile round trip from his Northumberland base keeps home life and work apart
Jack Ross doesn’t measure his commute in terms of length, preferring to focus on the depth of the experience it offers him.
The whole family moved with him when he accepted the Sunderland job in the summer of 2018 and, despite things not working out in a football sense at the Stadium of Light, they have no intention of packing up bags and fleeing the north-east of England.
Settled in their idyllic countryhome,hiswifeheatherand daughters Meadow and Mila have friends, schools and a lifestyle they all enjoy and, for the Hibernian boss, it serves as a haven from the day-to-day pressures of football management.
Which is why he is happy to contend with the near-200 mile round trip to the training ground each day, using the time to get his thoughts and plans for the day clear in hismindorswitchofffromthe professional demands by the time he walks back through the front door.
“We stay in a beautiful part of the country. Northumberland is lovely and it is only 1 hr 45 mins to the training ground. If I stayed in Glasgow, where we were before, it would probably take me longer,” he said.
“When I was at Sunderland, I spoke to a lot of other managers and it is amazing the number who have stayed in a certain part. I think even Gordon Strachan [pictured inset]
“It’s been good because I’ve hardly walked around in Scotland since I became Hibs manager. It gives you that separation which means while the work is still intense, there isn’t that intensity when you are out and about, especially when you are with the family”
is the same. You have a base and that stays constant regardless of the job. With the greatest will in the world, management is too transient. I would love to be at Hibs for a good number of years but, in football, you just don’t know.”
And he sees merit in keeping some distance between his home life and his professional life.
“I learned that in the past couple of years because it was pretty intense living in the north-east and managing in the north-east. It is a bit different now,” he added.
“It’s been good because I have hardly walked around in Scotland since I became Hibs manager. It gives you that separation which means that while the work is still intense, there isn’t that intensity when you are out and about, especially when you are with the family.”
The scenic route from home to work also serves as a calming force, offering some perspective and peace, with views to salve the soul rather than traffic jams and faceless motorways to make the blood boil.
“It is a very different drive than ones I have had in the past. I drive a straight road, almost from my home to the training ground, and it is a beautiful road in the daylight,” said Ross. “It is very picturesque. In the dark it can be more challenging because it is predominantly a country road and I do stay up the road some nights through the week.
“But we are settled there and the kids have friends and are settled at school. Meadow is 11 so she will be going to secondary school in a few months and Mila is in the first year of primary. So, they are at important ages and it’s not fair on them if we move every time.”
The rural setting has made it easier to get out and about during the coronavirus crisis, meaning the lockdown “hasn’t been too bad” and while home educating is part of their daily structure for now, Ross says there is a chance that they will return to school sooner rather than later south of the Border.
“We don’t usually finish up until July down here,” he said. “They have half-term at the end of May and there is talk of them returning for June and July before they are off, as usual, in August/september.”
Ross can only hope for such a swift return to his normal day to day. But, with things still in a state of flux and Scottish football apparently hell-bent on eating itself from within, he can only watch and wait.
Furloughed, he has no formal work to undertake, and content with the way the club handled the situation and agreed wage deferrals, he has no bitterness to cultivate, but he is still busying himself, working to better himself and helping out players who want to do likewise.
“It is difficult because we have all been furloughed. But, we have all stayed in touch as friends rather than employees and colleagues and that has helped psychologically,” said Ross. “Everything has been optional but some players have asked to chat via Zoom about things and that is good and it is enjoyable for me.
“It keeps me busy and lets them look at the game in a different way and that’s just the stuff I’m involved in. I know there are other things I’m not involved in, that the players do together and that keeps them in contact. It’s been good to keep up the regular communication, within the careful parameters of furlough that were set out by the club.”