David Preece: Why I would not have taken the Adam Rooney route from Aberdeen to Salford
Adam Rooney won't be a player most of you will have been too familiar with until recently, but, with his move from Aberdeen to Salford City recently, he has become headline news.
If you’re not familiar with the story, Adam decided to join Salford City in the fifth tier of English football from Aberdeen, who are currently the second best team in Scotland and face Burnley in the Europa League tonight.
A quick comparison would say there isn’t really one to make.
Not in my eyes anyway, but they, of course, are brimful of bias.
On the face of it, you’d think there must be more to it than meets the eye when choosing to take the drop from a club of the stature of Aberdeen to a club fresh out of the National League North. And there is.
Figures between £3,500 and £6,000 a week were bandied around as to what Rooney would be earning – and, if anything was going to be a motivating factor behind the move, it looked as if this would be it.
Initially, I didn’t believe the numbers quoted.
Even at that lower end of the scale mentioned, that would have made him the highest earner I’d ever heard of at that level and a raise on his previous contract with the Dons.
Most National League clubs are full-time and it’s not unusual for some clubs to be paying players in excess of £100,000 a year.
The likes of Forest Green and Sunderland owner Stewart Donald’s former club, Eastleigh, were rumoured to have splashed out wages more in line with some League One clubs, but, even with the backing that Salford City have, I was still taken by surprise at their outlay.
Sure, they’re ruthlessly ambitious and clearly in a hurry to get Football League status. Nobody can criticise that.
And, from their perspective, they’re getting a player who is still only 30 years old and has written himself in to the history books at Pittodrie.
There’s no doubt that he will be a success and Salford City owner Peter Lim and the Class of ’92 will get a return on their money from Adam, but, from my experience in both the SPFL and the National League, it’s not a move I would have made myself.
First of all, let’s take the money out of the equation.
There isn’t a great difference in what his earnings are, and, from Aberdeen’s point of view, they have received a hefty transfer fee and have had a top earner, who wasn’t a guaranteed starter, out of the door. Everyone wins in that sense.
I just wonder if Adam is in for a little bit of a shock.
I know – it was a drop that basically ended my own career.
Earlier in my career, I made a choice that I would take the chance to play at the highest level possible with a lower chance of playing than drop down a couple of divisions guaranteed game time.
It wasn’t so much about the games but more to do with my day-to-day motivation of testing myself with, and against, better players at a higher level.
When I dropped down in to the National League with Lincoln City, so did my motivation and enjoyment of the game.
As it transpired, I ended up loving my time at Lincoln, a place that I now call home, but it will always be the resting place of my playing career.
In fact, maybe I should get back in touch with the club to see if I can put a plaque up outside the ground in memory of my career.
Of course, this says much more about me than the players I was playing with and against, the club and the level I was playing at, but I have no problem saying that sometimes I would turn up at some stadiums and look at the dim floodlights and the bobbly playing surface and want to turn straight back down the tunnel and back onto the team bus.
It took me a while to readjust and rid myself of the snobbery I had acquired over the years, but I’m happy to report it wasn’t just something felt by me.
Rightly or wrongly, like many others, I’d been spoiled and my time in the National League gave me my sense of perspective back.
Salford City aren’t your average National League club, though, and their ambition and the focus on them gives them a bigger profile than most.
Then again, they aren’t a Tranmere or a Grimsby, who have recently spent time outside the division.
As an an ex-Don, I hope that Adam does well and is a success at Salford. I’m sure he and the club will be.
But there won’t be any Pittodrie, Ibrox or Celtic Park and that would make the difference to me.