Rotherham

Like nearby Sheffield the other side of the M1, Rotherham was built on steel. Like Sheffield, football in Rotherham was centred on two clubs, in this case Town and County.

But, unlike Sheffield, these two clubs merged – and the resultant Rotherham United have never won any major silverware.

In fact, Rotherham have never reached the top flight, and stints in the second tier have mainly involved struggles in its lowest placings.

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Welcome to Rotherham/Paul Martin

On the plus side, United are now based at the recently constructed New York Stadium, after four years of homelessness and uncertainty. It stands on the site of the former Guest & Chrimes foundry that supplied the Big Apple with its distinctive fire hydrants.

Of the two forebears prior to the 1925 merger, Rotherham County were the most prominent. Formed as Thornill in 1870, County had been based at the Millmoor ground that United not only occupied, but which bequeathed the new club its nickname, The Millers.

Midland League champions four years running from 1912, County joined the Football League, Division Two, immediately after World War I, and stayed there for four years. When it came to swapping their black-and-white shirts for the yellow ones of Rotherham United, County were bottom of the Third Division (North).

The amalgamation of 1925 was a necessity – County were facing re-election. Combining with Rotherham Town successfully convinced the Football League that a new, stronger club would be a more viable option.

Town’s history is far more convoluted. County’s new partners had been formed in 1899 – three years after a previous Rotherham Town had folded.

Originally founded as Lunar Rovers in 1878, this earlier Rotherham Town have two major claims to fame. First, they were the opponents in the first ever match involving Liverpool FC, a friendly in 1892. Second, around the same time, they had on their books Britain’s first black professional, Arthur Wharton, who also ran a local pub, the Albert Tavern, close to Millmoor and the New York Stadium.

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Welcome to Rotherham/Paul Martin

Wearing the same red shirts that United would adopt in the late 1920s after the unwise initial choice of yellow, Town would become Rotherham’s first representatives in the Football League, playing three seasons in Division Two before their collapse in 1896.

Known first as Rotherham FC, Rotherham Town Mark II were, like County, playing in the Midland League through the early 1900s. Unlike County, they never won it, finishing runners-up twice, once to County themselves in 1912.

County had moved into the newly built Millmoor in 1907, set on a former flour mill near the River Don. In 2007, Millers fans celebrated its centenary just as the club was at its lowest ebb, having entered administration the year before.

In 2008, Rotherham were forced to leave the old ground, which hosted the first Football League Cup final, the first leg of United’s 1961 tie with Aston Villa.

For four years, United rented the Don Valley athletics stadium, on the Sheffield side of M1, where Jan Železny had set the world javelin record in 1993. After The Millers moved to the New York Stadium in 2012, close to Millmoor, Don Valley was knocked down.

A month after the new arena staged Rotherham’s first international, a win for England under-18s over Germany in April 2014, United’s Adam Collin performed goalkeeping heroics at Wembley to take The Millers back to the second flight after ten years.

As for Millmoor, its owners having failed to attract the Titans rugby union club there in 2011, in 2016 it opened its doors to Westfield United, the town’s successful under-18 side. The Titans, meanwhile, stay at Clifton Lane – where the original Rotherham Town football club played in the Victorian era.

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Rotherham

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Rotherham Central station: 53.432270, -1.360440
Rotherham Interchange: 53.433590, -1.356650
Rotherham United/New York Stadium: 53.427064, -1.363000
Prince of Wales Hotel: 53.430290, -1.371070
Netherleigh Guest House: 53.424042, -1.352523
Fernlea: 53.424981, -1.351332
Carlton Park Hotel: 53.419034, -1.347978
The Brentwood : 53.418023, -1.346994
Fitzwilliam Arms Hotel : 53.449992, -1.346939
High House/FUBAR: 53.429349, -1.356090
The Bluecoat : 53.428805, -1.354588
Corn Law Rhymer: 53.429934, -1.356495
The Rhinoceros: 53.431844, -1.356853
New County : 53.432383, -1.357831
Players Sports Bar: 53.431021, -1.354064
Westfield United/Millmoor: 53.428405, -1.370247

Bearings

Doncaster-Sheffield is the nearest airport to Rotherham, 29km (18 miles) away. From Stand 1 outside the terminal, First South Yorkshire bus X4 runs to Doncaster Interchange (Mon-Sat every 30min, Sun every hr, journey time 20min, £3), a 5min walk to Doncaster station. From there, a train to Rotherham Central (£4) takes 20-25min, overall journey time 1hr-1hr.

The South Yorkshire TravelMaster Gold Day pass (£7.70) is valid for buses, trams and trains serving Doncaster and Rotherham.

Nearly all trains from London Kings Cross or St Pancras (£17 online) require one change at Sheffield, overall journey time 2hr 15-30min, the same from Birmingham (£20 online, 1hr 30min). From Manchester Piccadilly (£10, 1hr-1hr 30min), change at either Sheffield or Meadowhall.

It’s a short walk from Rotherham Central to both town centre and stadium. Rotherham Interchange bus station is not far from there either, on the northern edge of the town centre.

Local buses for Rotherham are now co-ordinated under one ticketing network – Travel South Yorkshire has all details.

A1 Taxis (01709 555 555) are based close to Rotherham Central station and the New York Stadium, and provide airport transfers, even to/from London. Doncaster-Sheffield is £18-£23.

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Carlton Park Hotel/Tony Dawber

Bed

Visit Rotherham has a database of local accommodation.

The nearest lodging to the ground is the 36-room Prince of Wales Hotel (9 Princes Street, 01709 551 366), with a bar and TV sport – and in need of a revamp.

Most of the town’s hotel stock is on and off Moorgate Street/Road that leads south from the town centre, pretty much walking distance to/from the stadium.

The nearest to the New York is the Netherleigh Guest House, a self-catering arrangement of ten rooms in a Victorian building. Alongside, the Fernlea comprises 12 cheap rooms, a mix of en-suite and shared-facility, with a large-screen TV and pool table in the lounge.

Further down Moorgate Road, the 80-room Carlton Park is a pleasant, mid-range choice for the business crowd with its own bar and restaurant, plus a pool, spa and gym. Alongside, the family-friendly Brentwood occupies a large, statuesque property in its own wooded grounds with a Flaming Grill restaurant on-site.

Just north of the town centre, the modern, functional Fitzwilliam Arms Hotel comprises 40 bedrooms, a large bar, restaurant and games room. From outside, bus No.41 runs to Rotherham town centre every 20min.

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High House-FUBAR/Tony Dawber

Beer

Rotherham town centre is mainly given over to retail, dotted with the odd chain pub and, around the fringes, more traditional places. These include the High House and FUBAR, where Moorgate Street meets Ship Hill, a pleasant pub with a big screen for TV football and a front terrace, complemented by an evening-only party spot in the same building.

Nearby, The Bluecoat is one of two Wetherspoons in town. The Corn Law Rhymer closed in 2016, and should soon reopen under new management – the Wetherspoon Rhinoceros is still in operation.

Further up Bridgegate, at the junction with Corporation Street, the New County would be a standard choice to watch the match.

At Doncaster Gate, the Players Sports Bar (No.15-21) is not part of the glitzier late-night chain also found in Sheffield and Leeds but a large upstairs spot for pool and snooker, with multiple TV screens.


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