Graham Barrow winces at recalling a now-famous afternoon four years ago when he inadvertently became centre-stage during a Wigan Athletic-Newcastle clash.
In the aftermath to THAT mistimed challenge from Callum McManaman on Massimo Haidara, who had to be stretchered off, Toon assistant boss John Carver confronted the Latics youngster as the players left the field at half-time.
Enter Barrow stage left to, how shall we put it, ‘persuade’ Carver that he should keep his opinions to himself.
“I actually cringed when someone showed me the footage afterwards,” Barrow grinned. “I thought: ‘How embarrassing.’
“But the only regret I have was that I didn’t really speak to John after the game.
“I think he was a similar sort of character to myself, and he’d have done exactly the same in my position as I would in his.
“It just got a bit silly at the time...but Callum was a lad who, when you’d had him since he was a kid, was like your own son. He wasn’t without his troubles, Callum, but you couldn’t help but like him – especially the position I was in at the time. (Development Squad manager)
“But I wasn’t aware of anything else other than helping Callum, same as John was concerned only with his player.
“That’s what it’s all about. You’ll always shake hands after the game, but it’s a competitive sport, isn’t it? I’ve never been any different, and I’ve no intention of changing now.
“Even though I’m getting older, if anything I’m getting worse!
“But it’s for other people you do stuff like that for – and this club has always had people like that.
“There’s a lot of people who’ve been through a lot at this football club, but you wouldn’t swap it for the world.”
It’s that passion for the cause that Barrow is hoping to instil into his players for the eight games that will make or break their season – starting this weekend at St James’ Park.
“Sometimes it does you good to look back at the past, what we’ve done here, when you’re trying to replicate previous success,” Barrrow acknowledged.
“It’s a situation that enabled us to get out of trouble in the Premier League, and enabled us to get to Wembley a few times.
“I’ve said to the players here that if they look back, they’ll see players like Jordi (Gomez), (Josh) McEachran...players who you’d probably not normally associate with aggression and physicality. But they were aggressive in their movements, and getting to the ball.
“Anybody can do it – as long as it’s coached right, and the players know the right time to do it, to be effective.
“We have to do that. We have to be aggressive. We have to be brave. There’s no point holding back. Let’s just do it!
“People may look back at the FA Cup, and the semi final, and the Premier League, and say: ‘The stakes were high back then’.
“I’d look at this weekend and argue they’re even higher.
“If that’s what makes you perform – and it shouldn’t make you perform any better – then fine.
“Hopefully that message has got across to the players this week.
“Take Dan Burn for instance. I threw him on up front against Aston Villa for the last 15 minutes, obviously to get a goal because we were 1-0 down.
“But even if he didn’t manage to get one, I wanted to show the other players that here is a lad on top of his game, and all he is doing is playing instinctively, to how he wants to play the game.
“He played up front, he chased about, won about three tackles, and he showed me a passion that at least I had something to show the other players after the game.
“I could say: ‘There’s a lad who’s playing out of his skin, who had his critics earlier in the season, who is doing everything he can for the club, playing with no fear’. That’s what I want.”
There’ll certainly be no lack of passion from the stands this afternoon, with Latics being cheered on by over 1,200 travelling fans who snapped up the full allocation well in advance of the game.
“That certainly gives us something as well,” Barrow recognised.
“It shows me that they haven’t given up, so we can’t give up – I certainly won’t be giving up anyway. If that’s the response from the fans, to travel all that way to support their team, then we can’t give up and we won’t give up.
“I would imagine we could probably have sold a few more as well, which is absolutely brilliant.
“They’ll be tucked up at the back of the stand, but we’ll be able to hear them – I’m sure of that.”