Defender Farrend Rawson recently signed a two-year deal with the Shrimps, and he sat down with Matt Smith to talk about his career to-date.
You came through the Academy at Derby County before turning professional in 2014. What was it like for you learning your trade at Pride Park?
“It was really good. I signed for Derby when I was 13, played grassroots before that, it was really good. I don’t have a bad word to say about Derby at all, it was a really good grounding, really good upbringing there. Obviously they’ve got a lot going on at the moment, but before then they looked after me really well, I had the best facilities to grow as a person and as a player, it was a really fond time. I have good memories, made some good friends for life from it and I think it put me in a position where I was ready for me to step into the proper men’s game.”
The year later you experienced your first real taste of professional football on loan at Rotherham, that must’ve been a huge learning experience for you?
“It was crazy! I was only 18 at the time and I remember I played in a U21s cup game against, I think it was, Southampton and then I got the phone call from the Academy manager at the time who was Lee Glover, he called me and just informed me that Rotherham, who were in the Championship at the time, were interested in taking me on loan. That blew my mind, I couldn’t believe it, and I could be making my Championship debut that week and I just played on the Thursday so I was thinking how am I going to do that. I went there, played I think it was 20 games, over two seasons, I really enjoyed my time and like I said, that was my first step into men’s football and I can’t be thankful enough for it, it set me up brilliantly to have a look into what men’s football is like, it made me grow up really quick, and all I can say is I have good memories, I learned a lot and it was good for me going on to the next stage of my career.”
Further loans followed, again at Rotherham United but also Coventry City and Accrington Stanley. How important was it for you, but also generally for young players to get out and experience first team football?
“Massively, I was lucky, I fell into it and I went on quite a few loans when I was at Derby trying to get experience and play games, and I think it’s the most important thing as a youngster. There’s this phase of U23s now and you stay in the U23s, you can be 21 or 22 before you leave and get a Club, but I think the best thing to do at whatever level, it doesn’t matter the level to me, it’s more the experience, what you’re going to gain from it on and off the pitch, growing you as a personality to be able to deal with certain things and I think it's massive to be able to go and play games, 30 or 40 games in a season instead of playing U23s football where it’s a little bit different. For me, it’s only helped massively to go and play games, men’s football and just improve all round, so I think it’s very important to go and play proper men’s football.”
You signed for Forest Green Rovers in 2018, who were then in their second season in League Two, and you reached the Play-Offs. That must’ve been an enjoyable campaign?
“It was amazing, a really good ride. I went there in the January, they were fighting relegation so it was a big challenge for me to go there, but I went full of confidence thinking ‘we’re going to do this’, we survived that year and the following year we went all the way to the Play-Offs, we just couldn’t get over the line in the end which was disappointing but the whole season was amazing, it was nice to be able to win consecutive games and keep pushing in the right direction. You get a kind of mindset that you get into where you keep pushing yourself and it was class, hopefully we can keep doing that and we can try to do that somewhere like here, it’d be amazing.”
After two years at the New Lawn, you made the switch to Mansfield where you competed against Morecambe in the 2020/21 season which culminated in our promotion to League One. How impressed were you by the Shrimps that year?
“Massively! Obviously Morecambe were in League Two for a little while and I played against them a lot of times, they’ve always been a tough team to play against. What they did that season was amazing, I don’t think a lot of people would’ve thought Morecambe would’ve done what they did that season, but credit to themselves. They went out there, they did the job and they got it done, and they went to Wembley and won the game. It’s a one-off game, a tough place to go. To go all the way to Wembley and to win is a credit to any team. It’s a big achievement, and they were tough to play against at Mansfield I’ll tell you that!”
Despite a successful campaign last season with Mansfield, the Club fell just short at Wembley. How much does that spur you on to write the wrongs this season?
“It was an amazing season last season, we started poorly and we should’ve never started like that, everyone can see that but then we went on an amazing run. I think we broke records, we won in consecutive games and to be part of a team like that and play a massive part in it was amazing. To go all the way to Wembley, being in and around it and seeing how it was done, was incredible. It’s an experience I’ll learn from and I’ll be able to deal with in the future and add that to my game, how to deal with those big occasions, but it was amazing to see the amount of fans in there at Wembley, obviously it’s the home of football in England, it was crazy.”