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Interviews

Getting to know Duane Holmes

16 May 2017

Club photographer Damon Campion found out more about 22-year-old winger Duane Holmes on and off the field.

Originally featured in the Iron v Coventry programme on April 30th.

You were born in Columbus, Georgia. How was that?
DH: I was born an American and lived there for four years before we moved over to here. I have an English mum and an American dad, and they actually met in Germany. My mum worked there as a nanny and my dad was stationed there, so that’s how they met. They ended up coming together and moving to America. 
 
Do you still have a lot of family in America?
DH: The whole of my dad’s side are there. They are a big family.
 
You’ve got dual citizenship then I guess?
DH: I have both passports and dual citizenship, yes.
 
You could play for either England or America too. Have you ever thought about it?
DH: I’ve always wanted to play for America because that’s where I feel my heritage is.
 
Are you close to your family over there?
DH: Yeah, I’m very close. I went back a couple of weeks ago, though it wasn’t under the best circumstances, but it was good to see everybody again.
 
Whereabouts did you move to when you came to the UK?
DH: We moved back to Normanton, a little town outside of Wakefield, where my mum was brought up.
 
How was childhood in West Yorkshire?
DH: It was difficult at times in a single parent home. My mum had to work very hard, but I’m grateful for everything she’s done for me. She’s a big part of my life and that’s why I’m happy that all of her hard work paid off – with me getting to be where I wanted to be.
 
Have you got a lot of childhood friends there?
DH: I still see a few of my friends from school. Obviously when everyone leaves school, things fade off a bit. I have friends who I’ve grown up with playing junior football and you get really close to them.
 
What about family over here? Is it just yourself and your mum?
DH: My mum has been married for six years now and I have a stepbrother, stepdad and a little dog. Apart from that, it was always me, my mum and my grandad. When I was about eight-years-old, my grandad split up with my grandma and he asked my mum ‘could I stay a month’ and ten years later he was still there. He was a big part of my life and the father figure for a long time.
 
How was school for you?
DH: It was alright. I was actually quite intelligent, though you probably wouldn’t think that because I am a bit of a joker and like to have a laugh. When it came down to the education side, I always knew it was very important and I was really good at school.
 
At secondary school, how did your exams go? Did you always know you were going to be a footballer?
DH: During the second half of my final year at school, I’d been told I was going to be getting a full-time football scholarship. I wouldn’t say I eased off but from then I knew I had to put everything into football and really try to make it. I still passed all my exams but I feel I could have done a bit better if football wasn’t such a big part of my life at that point. I think I focused more on football and fortunately it paid off.
 
Was there ever a back-up plan for if it didn’t happen?
DH: I always wanted to do accounting or psychology because they were things that interested me.
 
What do you like to do on your days off?
DH: I enjoy fishing and I also really like cricket. I watch a lot but don’t play as much because I want to avoid injury. When I was younger though, I’d play every day during the summer. 
 
Do you enjoy American football?
DH: I’m a Falcons fan and want them to win but I’m not a die-hard fan of it. I struggle to stay up and watch it. 
 
What about basketball?
DH: I’m not really into it. A couple of family members play it but it’s never been something I’ve been into. I’m a bit too small for that!
 
Are you a music fan?
DH: Not really. I used to have a dabble and tried to play guitar really badly but really I’ll just listen to it now. 
 
Do you like any specific artists?
DH: Just whatever’s on really.
 
What about video games?
DH: There is a big group of us who play on the PlayStation 4. We play Call of Duty.
 
Do you have all the headsets on?
DH: Yeah we do. We message each other when back from training and then play until our partners get back from work. We’re then kicked off!
 
Do you like TV or films?
DH: Not really movies, but I do enjoy a box set. When you play away you get a lot of downtime and I’ve seen a fair few shows. Prison Break has just come back so I’ve been watching that, Games of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Californication… I had a dabble at Suits but it’s too intellectual for me.
 
Are you good at cooking?
DH: I’m not very good, no. If I try and cook, it’s a disaster so I just stay away from the kitchen. 
 
If you go back to Georgia, what’s it like food-wise over there?
DH: It’s very different to here, and I’d say better. It’s fried chicken, fried fish, etc and there are lots of big family cook-outs. When I was there last month, there were 50/60 of us and we just sat there and spoke for ours. Everybody brought their bit to add to the meal.
 
Who is your biggest influence in football?
DH: I’d say my grandad and my mum. They kept me on the right track. There were a few times I wanted to give it in, because I was told so many times I was too small or not good enough. When you hear that as a kid, it does hurt at times, because it was all I wanted to do. My grandad used to say ‘come on, you can do it’ in his Yorkshire accent and that’s what kept me going. He used to take time out of his day to take me to football. I thought ‘I can’t let him down’. I stuck with it and got through the bad times, then the good times started coming. When it’s going well, it’s the best feeling in the world.
 
What about role models, player-wise?
DH: It was Ronaldinho for me. I’m a Liverpool fan and idolised Steven Gerrard but the things Ronaldinho could do with the ball were amazing. He’d single-handedly win a game and was incredible.
 
Did you play for your school team as well when you were younger?
DH: When you’re 14/15 and things start getting more serious they don’t want you to play for your school but up to then I was able to. I also used to play rugby league. Where I’m from, it’s the main sport – three or four of my mates from school play in the Super League now and it was a big part of school life. We won the first ever game at the new Wembley, it was my team vs Castlefield. We won the National Cup three years in a row.
 
Was rugby ever an option for you then?
DH: I was quite good at rugby but I’d be too small. All my English uncles were big rugby fans and wanted me to play rugby. Football was seen as a bit of a soft sport by them. I knew I wanted to be a footballer though.
 
How long did you spend in Huddersfield’s academy?
DH: I was there from Under-9 right through to Under-16 and then was offered a two-year scholarship. After that, I was offered a two-year professional deal. 
 
Was it Mark Robins who signed you as a professional?
DH: He was the manager when I signed my first professional deal. Simon Grayson took Huddersfield up and then left, and Mark came in. Mark gave me my debut at Hull away in the League Cup. I played well and then we played on TV against Blackpool a few days later, and he brought me on as a substitute to make my league debut. I played a fair bit under Mark at Huddersfield.
 
You scored the one goal. Who was that against?
DH: It was versus Charlton at home last year. We were already 3-0 up and I scored. It was my first goal and the excitement got the better of me. I went up to the crowd, where all my friends were, and it was a great moment that will live with me for a long time.
 
Then you went on loan to Yeovil.
DH: That was in my first year as a professional. Mark Robins wanted me to get experience and more game time. I went for a month and started five games, before getting injured, and then came back with a few days of the loan left. It was a good, different experience.
 
How was it being away from home for the first time?
DH: It was different because I was 18 and was used to my home comforts, but it was something I enjoyed. My mum’s a big part of my life and she worried, but I got through it. She came down every weekend anyway.
 
You returned to Huddersfield and then you went to Bury the season after. 
DH: I played six games there and was coming on as a substitute but, at the time, they were flying and winning every game. You don’t want to change a winning team, and when they lost I had a little ankle injury and didn’t really recover from that. I came back to Huddersfield and Mark Robins had left, with Chris Powell coming in, and I find it hard because he’d not seen me play much. I ended up back in the Under-21s and, though it’s a good standard, when you have a taste of the first team it’s all you want. It was a difficult year for me. I had another year at Huddersfield under David Wagner and that was really different. He brought in a different approach and it was something I really enjoyed. He wanted to play great football and it shows now with where they are – they’re overachieving massively and it’s down to him.
 
When did the ‘bromance’ with Matt Crooks start then?
DH: I’ve known him a long time. He was at Huddersfield and then went to Manchester United before coming back to Huddersfield when he was 16/17. I’ve known him a long time and spent a lot of time with him. We get along and go on holiday every year. He generally lives really close to me and I see him regularly. Our girlfriends get on and he’s one of my best friends outside of football as well as on the pitch.
 
What’s it been like at Scunny?
DH: I had a deal sorted somewhere in the summer and didn’t get a chance to do my medical. Then when I came back it fell through. I was getting worried because it got into July and everyone was preparing for their tours and I thought I might be in a little trouble here. Then I got a call from the gaffer here who said he wanted to have a chat with me. I came here to speak to him and I liked what he had to say. I was impressed with his drive. His passion for football made me want to come here. I knew how strongly they finished last season and I thought this club was going places. He wanted me to train with the lads for a few days and then they offered me my deal. We went to Austria and it was the toughest week of my life.
 
You’ve scored three goals this season too.
DH: Yeah, I’m a bit disappointed with that though and feel I should have scored more. That’s the way it goes, though. It’s not about me, it’s about the team.
 
Do your family come to games?
DH: My mum, stepdad, grandma, uncles, aunties and cousins come every week. My parents and family won’t take no for an answer so they’ve got to come.
 
Do you have any superstitions?
DH: It’s not superstition but more routine – I just put all my gear on in the same way. You just get into a routine.
 
What are you like in the changing room?
DH: I’d say I’m the annoying little brother – like a fly that’s always in your ear. I know when to tone it down and when to get under people’s skin. There are a few players in the changing room who like to get everyone going and it’s good to have people like that.
 
Would you like to play abroad?
DH: MLS is very realistic to me because I’m not classed as a foreign player and have the Green Card and passport. It’s something I’d look to do but not any time soon.
 
What nicknames do people give you?
DH: I get Bruno Mars, and some of the other ones aren’t nice so we won’t put them in here!
 
Do you keep memorabilia?
DH: My mum does. She keeps shirts, medals, and all sorts. There’s a whole box of everything in the attic.
 
How are you the night before a game?
DH: The only time I’ve ever been properly nervous was when I was on the bench for my first league game. Then I became more excited and wanted to enjoy myself and embrace it.
 
If a game you’re playing in is on TV, does it affect you?
DH: You can only control the controllables and everything else will happen – that’s how I look at it. 
 
What about life after football?
DH: I can’t see myself being a manager, I’m not that sort of person. I could see myself becoming a coach maybe. I’m looking to do a degree in accounting and we’ll see where that takes me after football.

 


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