We all know that Rotherham isn’t one of the most glamorous places to live in the country. But, it does have a football club, which gives the town a sense of pride and togetherness.
Video: Jonathon Ripley. Yes, that is me in the blue coat. No, I promise I’m not giving birth.
To add a bit of context, The Millers’ neighbours, mainly both deriving from the Sheffield clubs, tend to laugh at little old Rotherham’s expense sometimes. After all, we are often labelled: “a town full of Wednesday”.
And that’s fine, maybe we are in some ways. But that makes me even prouder being a Miller, knowing that I’m the one who’s actually supporting my local team. The team that means so much to myself and my family.
It was another rollercoaster season for that local team, too.
The end of the 2018/19 season sadly resulted in Rotherham United being relegated from the Championship, after being promoted the season before.
Relegation was a disappointment, yes. The key reason why it hurt so much this time around, was because the gaffer, Paul Warne, his staff and his players had given absolutely everything and fallen just short. Defender, Sean Raggett even lost one of his gnasher’s for the cause!
Warne’s side earnt many plaudits across the division for their ‘never say die’ attitude, and a second to none work rate.
This is a huge contrast to the last time Rotherham were in the Championship. Roll back the clock to 2017 and The Millers were relegated from the second division, with a measly tally of 23 points. It was a squad full of factions and included players who, on the face of it, didn’t seem to care as much as others.
It’s unreal how quickly Warne turned this around and took us back up.
But, hard work wasn’t quite enough to keep us up…
I could dissect how we played in certain games and discuss what we lacked, but that’s not what this piece is about.
We know we’re a minnow in the league, certainly financially. We accept that. But it was a campaign, upon reflection, of ‘what ifs’.
Local derbies against the likes of Sheffield United at home, and Sheffield Wednesday on both occasions spring to mind for me, where if The Millers had taken all three of the points that they deserved in these fixtures, they could have remained in the division. Oh, and don’t get me started on the amount of goals we conceded within the last ten minutes of games!
Now, supporters from other clubs may laugh at us, and wonder if we go crying to our beers. And maybe we did the first few times this sort of thing happened. Certainly not this season!
But, I will never forget that feeling I had as ‘Warniola’ and those ‘good human beings’ who wore that red shirt, acknowledged the supporters on the final day of the season, and that feeling of pride and one of a strange happiness I had.
Happiness because I think it’s rare that you see a group of wholesome, genuine people all together at a single football club, working against the odds for a cause. I was simply chuffed it was my team.
Rotherham United, really was UNITED.
On a final, personal note, there’s been things in my life which some of you may aware of that have been difficult this season, but this football club has also helped me through that.
Little things really can make a difference!
So here’s a final thank you to Paul Warne, his staff, players, and of course my fellow supporters for making this an entertaining season in which, in the end, we can be proud of.
I can’t wait for next season, already.