Doncaster Rovers: Matty Blair reveals how he has found the right balance between family life and football
If one player knows that getting things right off the pitch helps to get things right on it, then it is Matty Blair.
And his personal form alone in recent weeks suggests he must be doing something right when he is off the pitch.
Blair has spoken open, honestly and candidly about his struggles with mental health following the death of his brother Ross in 2017.
Under the encouragement of then-boss Darren Ferguson, he took a break from the club to deal with the grief he had struggled to for months and it was then he recognised the issues which were effecting him.
Since then he has become an advocate for mental health, helping to shine a spotlight on an issue which has become increasingly prevalent in recent years.
But he has also continued to attempt to manage his own situation – something he believes he is doing exceptionally well currently.
“I’ve got my out of football life spot on,” he said.
“My wife gives me more than enough opportunity to stay in Doncaster and to rest up for football.
“Then I go home and it is my family life from there.
“I’d say I’ve got my balance spot on at the moment.
“Football is my job, it’s my life, but then I’ve got my family as well.
“To mix them both is a very fine balance but I think I’ve got that spot on at the moment.
“I want to spend as much time with my little boy as possible but my wife telling me to stay in Doncaster to rest up and save my legs is hopefully allowing me to perform to a high quality on the pitch.”
Blair and his wife Xanthe lived in Rossington after their son Archie was born in 2017.
But the end of Xanthe’s maternity leave saw the family take the decision to return to the Coventry area where they previously lived.
“My little boy was born in 2017 and from then my wife and him moved up to Doncaster where I had a place,” Blair added.
“In April 2018 she had to go back to work at Birmingham Airport and the journey for her just wasn’t going to work.
“We decided, rather than her commute, I could do the drive on a Sunday evening and a Wednesday evening, get back to Doncaster, have a sleep and get up for training.
“It was all about resting and recovering and concentrate on the football for the week.”
The defined separation between work and family life has helped the 31-year-old with his mental health, he admits.
And real, quality time with his son is playing a big role in that.
“It helps big time with that,” he said.
“I leave football pretty much in Doncaster and then it’s all about my little boy.
“We don’t really talk about football and it’s just concentrating on him.
“I’ll take him swimming on Sunday and enjoy my day with him and then I’ll travel back up on Sunday night for training on Monday.”
Whether starting or off the bench, in midfield or at right back, Blair has been one of Rovers’ most consistently good performers since the turn of the year.
Boss Grant McCann has encouraged everyone in his squad to take any opportunities that come their way – and Blair has probably been the shining example of how to do that over the last few months.
“I’d probably put that down to my personal life and behaviour,” he said.
“It’s the professionalism on the pitch but off it as well.
“I've got to give a big thank you to my wife and little boy who has allowed me the time away from the family to concentrate on football.”