JOHN ROONEY is celebrating promotion to League Two - but Paul Rutherford is determined to keep the Barrow ace on his toes.

The midfield duo have formed a strong friendship, which began during their time together at Wrexham and has since blossomed with their sons both playing for Everton Under-9s.

And while Rooney, brother of former England and Manchester United star Wayne, has the promotion bragging rights, Rutherford is not prepared to be second best in every department.

“John is very fit and started the lockdown 5km runs with a time of around 17 minutes, 40 seconds,” said Rutherford, who along with youngster Matty Sargent, is amongst the quickest over three miles in the Wrexham squad.

“My first run was 18:20, so I was determined to beat him, and thankfully I’ve managed to run a personal record time of 17:06.

“John hasn’t managed to beat that time, so I’m pleased. He’s incredibly competitive at everything he does though. Even if we’re doing sit-ups he wants to get the most, or do them quicker.

“I’m happy to have recorded a quicker time than him.”

Rooney has been a leading figure in Barrow’s title success - calculated on an unweighted points-per-game basis, the playmaker combining with ex-Wrexham loan striker Scott Quigley to fire Ian Evatt’s men to promotion. The 29-year-old Rooney struck 17 league goals, with Quigley leading the scoring charts with 20 as Barrow returned to the Football League for the first time in nearly 50 years.

Rutherford, who spent four seasons at Barrow, winning the FA Trophy, said: “I’m made up for John. He’s worked incredibly hard and it is a special moment for John and the Barrow squad.

“The season was ended early, but they’ve come out as champions and they’ve earned it, especially John and Quigs. It’s a special moment for those two and the club as a whole.

“Hopefully they can carry it on next season and fly the flag for the National League.”

Rutherford is also celebrating another success story as son Riley was named Everton’s Under-9s player of the season.

The youngster missed the traditional St George’s Hall gathering, the Toffees instead hosting a ceremony remotely.

“It’s a shame he was unable to stand up in-front of the whole academy at St George’s Hall, but it’s great that he won the award,” said Rutherford, who was at Everton’s city rivals Liverpool from seven to 14. “Riley only really started playing football at six, and that was quite late believe it or not. There’s people who have been there since the age of four.

“Football is the priority, but at that age it’s all good fun and there’s a social side to it.”

Rutherford, a veteran of more than 500 games for Chester City, Barrow, Southport and Wrexham, won’t be pushing his son to be a professional footballer, however.

“I’ve been around the block,” said Rutherford. “It’s a tough industry and I will try to set standards for him, but his ability will take him as far as it does.

“If he gets to 32 and he’s still playing football then great, if his maximum only gets him to Under-13 level, then so be it.”