Fitzwilliam football man heading Wembley way

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Fitzwilliam’s Gary Rowett is on the way to Wembley after guiding Burton Albion to a League Two play-off final against Fleetwood Town.

Rowett took over as manager of the Brewers with Kevin Poole on March 17 after Paul Peschosolido departed and has taken them to within sight of a historic possible League One spot following their 3-2 aggregate semi-final win over Southend United.

As a player Rowett moved out of the area to make his career. Starting at Cambridge United, he was transferred to Everton for £200,000, and later spent three years at Derby County before playing for Birmingham, Leicester City and Charlton Athletic, making a total of 396 senior appearances until a persistent knee injury forced his retirement.

He was persuaded by Nigel Clough to ‘guest’ for Burton when their Pirelli Stadium was officially opened against Manchester United and went on to play 47 games for the Brewers before finally hanging up his boots, although he returned as assistant manager.

If Rowett can guide Burton to victory, he will join another local, Russ Wilcox, who steered Scunthorpe United to automatic promotion after taking over the managerial reins just seven months ago.

Former Frickley defender Russ, of South Elmsall, was voted the League Two Manager of the Year and received a special award to recognise him steering the Ironmen on an unbeaten run of 25 matches.

In further Football League news, Sam Collins, of Kinsley, has been appointed as assistant manager and coach at Hartlepool United.

Starting at Huddersfield Town, defender Sam, who will be 37 on June 5, made 216 senior appearances with Bury, Port Vale and Swindon before moving to Hartlepool, where he has been voted Away Player of the Year for the past two campaigns.

There was disappointment for South Elmsall’s John McCombe 29, who was in the York City team which went down 1-0 on aggregate in their semi-final play-off with Fleetwood.

McCombe, a defender, joined the Minster men at the start of this season from Port Vale, where he won the Supporters Player of the Year award in 2010-11, having previously been at Hereford.