Andy Rose is used to the understudy role, having spent several years in the United States, where players are often outshone by the movie mogul owners, celebrity supporters or the sprinkling of A-list imports brought in to see out their careers while bolstering interest in the sport.
This weekend he and his Motherwell team-mates will again be seen as supporting actors, as Celtic attempt to wrap up a double treble with Scottish Cup victory at Hampden, but Rose says the Fir Park side have the wherewithal to be scene stealers.
Australian born, to English parents, after a number of years in the Bristol City academy, Rose took up a scholarship at UCLA, in Los Angeles, and combined college soccer with appearances in the USL Premier Development League. After graduating, he was signed by Seattle Sounders, a club co-owned by film producer and director Joe Roth and actor and comedian Drew Carey, along with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and businessman Adrian Hanauer. The presence of Carey, Roth and their celebrity friends have heightened the appeal of a game that is growing in America.
“I’ve met them both a few times, whenever we played at home in some of the bigger games. The big one for us was [nearest rivals] Portland Timbers and, any time LA Galaxy came up to play against us with David Beckham, Landon Donovan, those sort of superstars, they were always there,” says the midfielder, who has come up against the likes of David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard but now just wants to extend his stay at Motherwell beyond this summer, with contract negotiations apparently going well.
“I remember a few times after winning games they would come down to the changing rooms and before games, they wished us well. I suppose there is a little bit of Hollywood up in Seattle. They have done a tremendous job with the crowds. In my biased opinion, they have the best atmosphere in MLS. It was fantastic. It was a real shame that we never got to experience a cup final in Seattle.”
Rose did play two cup finals, with one win and one defeat on his cv, before adding this season’s League Cup final against Celtic, in November, to that loss column.
But, it is the glitz of the main protagonists who gleam more than any silverware in the States. Married to the daughter of former US national coach Bob Bradley, Rose’s father-in-law is now at the helm of new club Los Angeles FC, rivals to the renowned LA Galaxy and the people occupying the luxury owners’ verandah on match days is a who’s who of celebrity, from Will Ferrell to Magic Johnson to Mia Hamm.
“It’s great for the league. I have spent big chunk of my career there and paid close attention, with the family ties and what not,” said Rose. “It is really exciting to see how much it has grown. What LA have been able to do this season has been fantastic. Through ten games, they are right up there at the top of the table. There is a massive buzz when you bring names like Will Ferrell in. He has always been a massive football fan. His kids are all playing and, as MLS continues to grow out there, more and more people understand that it is the world’s game. They are enjoying it more. There is so much talent out there and a lot of money being spent. So the games are a lot of fun and people are really starting to enjoy it.”
But it is the passion in the stands that still elevates the game here.
“I got to experience it in the Betfred League Cup final, which was absolutely massive,” Rose added: “Walking out at Hampden, feeling that atmosphere, feeling the passion. One thing I’ve learned in Scottish football is that the passion of the crowds is unbelievable. It gives you an extra sense of pressure that so far we have really enjoyed. We re hoping that the crowd will really get behind us on Saturday. We will see what we can do.”
The first thing Rose has to do is convince his manager that he is fit enough to feature. Since signing last summer Rose has been a vital cog in the Motherwell line-up, manning the engine room and keeping things ticking over. But a fractured collarbone against Ross County just over three weeks ago rendered him a major doubt.
“I am getting there. I started to train this week and I am feeling good,” he said. “I am certainly very hopeful. I would love to be part of it because it isn’t a game you want to miss. I definitely feel I can start. I have always prided myself on my fitness and I have been working in the gym and we will have to see how the week goes and how it reacts.
“I have my full range of movement and the doctors are all happy with me being back in training – so that was the green light for me and I have told the boys not to take it easy on me. I want to make sure it is tested.”
Described as a physical, high intensity, in-your-face, team, those traits mean that, if Rose is given the nod on Saturday, he will walk out at Hampden confident that he and his shoulder can withstand the rigours of the final.
“We often say that training can be harder than matches sometimes,” he said. “The intensity is incredible and unfortunately there have been some training ground injuries as a result. But there is so much competition for places that you can’t afford to take a day off.”