LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Rotherham United

Bouncebackable Millers look to another promotion

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

Never in the Premier League or First Division but used to yo-yoing between second and third flights, Rotherham United date back to 1925 and a life-saving merger.

With Rotherham County facing re-election, the club combined with former local rivals Rotherham Town to maintain their presence in Division Three North.

Based at County’s Millmoor, the newly formed Rotherham United eventually gained promotion in 1950-51. With 46 goals that season from Jack Shaw, five in an FA Cup tie at Darlington, the Millers sailed into the second tier for the first time. Despite Shaw’s sale to Sheffield Wednesday, and the departure of manager Reg Freeman to Sheffield United, Rotherham managed a highest-ever third in the old Second Division in 1955.

New York Tavern/Paul Martin

And it was so nearly promotion to the First. In another high-scoring campaign, the team built by Freeman and managed by former Rotherham centre-half Andy Smailes lost out on the narrowest of goal averages to both Luton Town and Birmingham.

Smailes had also been in charge when Rotherham pulled off a shock FA Cup win at Newcastle to knock out the holders in 1953. A goalscorer that day, Rotherham’s Jack Grainger was offered a contract at St James’ Park – he stayed at Millmoor to become a key element of the 1954-55 push for the First Division. Going into the last game, United needed a 16-0 win against Liverpool to claim promotion – a 6-1 victory proved fruitless.

There were more giantkilling heroics in 1961 in the inaugural League Cup of 1961. Played at the start of the 1961-62 season, the two-legged final pitted then second-flight Rotherham against Aston Villa. At Millmoor, United surprisingly beat Joe Mercer’s side 2-0. Villa struck back to take the second leg to extra-time, when the tie was settled by 1958 Northern Ireland World Cup hero Peter McParland.

New York Stadium/Paul Martin

Still a prominent force in Division Two until the mid-1960s, Rotherham then faded until the arrival of Ian Porterfield in the late 1970s. Impressing many in his first managerial posting, the Scot took the Millers back to Division Two in 1981 before being poached by Sheffield United.

A similarly short but effective stay by his replacement, Emlyn Hughes, saw Rotherham finish seventh in 1982, above Chelsea and Newcastle. It would be two decades before Rotherham reached the second tier again.

Under Ronnie Moore, a prolific forward at Millmoor under Porterfield and Hughes, Rotherham gained two successive promotions, leaping from fourth to second flights, Irish international striker Alan Lee the scorer of many a vital goal.

Moore then, somehow, kept Rotherham up with the likes of Manchester City and West Ham for four seasons but his departure in 2005 coincided with relegation and near financial collapse.

New York Stadium/Paul Martin

First saved by a local consortium, then deducted points as various survival schemes were put into place, the club was forced to leave Millmoor a year after its centenary celebrations, moved to the Don Valley athletics stadium between Rotherham and Sheffield.

On the pitch, first Mark Robins then a returning Ronnie Moore worked near miracles to keep Rotherham in contention. Off it, local entrepreneur Tony Stewart took over as chairman and set to work on a new home for his club. He found it close to Millmoor, a plot of land once occupied by the foundry that made the fire hydrants in New York.

The opening of the New York Stadium in July 2012 could not have been better timed. Under former Crawley manager Steve Evans, Rotherham were about to begin another season in the fourth tier – and finish, two consecutive promotions later, in the second.

The run culminated with the 2014 play-offs for the Championship, a three-game series of memorable goals – Alex Revell’s against Preston and Leyton Orient – and memorable saves, Adam Collin’s in the penalty shoot-out against the East Londoners.

Since then, the Millers have flitted between Championship and League One each season from 2016-17, the one constant being ex-Millers midfielder Paul Warne as manager, on the coaching staff since 2012. One promotion was achieved thanks to two goals either side of normal and extra time by defender Richard Wood in a play-off final with Shrewsbury, another was won automatically in 2020 thanks to the goals of Freddie Ladapo, a record signing from Plymouth.

A string of injuries, postponements, Covid outbreaks and fixture pile-ups plagued the 2020-21 campaign, underscored by a string of one-goal defeats that culminated in another immediate relegation from the Championship.

Ground Guide

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

Set between the railway line to Sheffield and the River Don, the 12,000-capacity AESSEAL New York Stadium is a fine example of a new-build.

Close enough to town – even closer to the station – to be walkable but in a location that allows gradual expansion for up 20,000 seats in total, Rotherham’s £20-million arena overlooks the floodlights of former home Millmoor and the site of the scrap metal merchants who still own it. Their intransigence forced the club to move out in 2008.

This site, once called New York Island, was agreed in 2010 and the stadium opened in 2012.

That first season, the club’s average gates doubled as United gained promotion from League Two to League One – and have since then steadied at around 10,000.

Home fans occupy the KCM Recycling North Stand, aka the New Tivoli, after the old one by the nightclub of the same name at Millmoor. Opposite, the Mears South Stand accommodates visiting supporters. Executive boxes line the main Eric Twigg & Pukka Pies stand nearest the rail line while the Ben Bennett Stand by the river opposite is family-friendly.

Getting there

Going to the ground – tips and timings

The ground is an easy walk from Rotherham Central station. To stick to the stadium side of the river, head down College Road, first right past the warehouses and discount stores of Masbrough Street then left at the roundabout onto Main Street. New York Way is first left.

Many prefer to head the other way from the station, down Bridge Street and across the river, then first main right down Corporation Street and left onto Main Street – New York Way on your right carries you back over the river. This route takes you past pubs and near historic landmarks. Either way from the station, there are also narrow footpaths that run beside the river, cutting the walk slightly but trickier after dark.

Stagecoach buses 135, 136 and 137 run from stop B4 at Rotherham Interchange – it’s only a 5min hop to Main Street/Don Street by New York Way. All run hourly until early evening Mon-Sat, but only the 137 runs evenings and Sundays.

The sat nav code for the AESSEAL New York Stadium is S60 1FJ. There’s no match-day parking at the ground but nearby Westgate car park (£2 Sat/match days) across from the stadium at 127 Westgate (S60 1BJ)  and Forge Island (S60 1QE, free Mon-Fri after 6pm, and Sat-Sun) facing from Rotherham Central station are both convenient options. Alternatively, the multi-storey car park at Rotherham Interchange (Frederick Street, S60 1QB) charges £2.50 for up to 4hrs, £3.50 for 4hrs plus, open until midnight daily.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

The ticket office shares the same space and opening hours (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, non-match day Sat 9am-1pm, match days/eves 9am-30min after kick-off) as the club shop behind the main stand.

You can also book over the phone (01709 827 768) and online. For all enquiries, contact office@rotherhamunited.net. Entry is by ticket only – there’s a match-day outlet for away fans behind the South Stand.

Prices are set at £23 for the home North Stand and away South, £25 in the East and West. Over-60s, students and 18-21s pay £13/£15, 13-17s £8/£9, under-13s £6/£7. Accompanied under-8s are charged £2 the Ben Bennett East Stand. An extra £2 is imposed on adults/seniors on match days after noon on Saturdays and 5pm for evening games, a £1 supplement charged for 13-17s and under-13s.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

Behind the main stand, the Red & White Shop (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, non-match day Sat 9am-1pm, match days/eves 9am-30min after kick-off) makes a point of offering pocket money items for kids, including autograph books, pencils, badges, foam hands and toothbrushes.

Red with white sleeves has long been the home shirt, currently change strips including grey with red trim, and black with red trim. T-shirts feature the club’s foundation date of 1925, soon to be the centenary.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

If you’re taking the Bridge Street option from Rotherham Central, then the Bridge Inn is a must. Close to the station and run as an outlet for Old Mill ales from Goole, it’s happy to accommodate home and away fans, its interior filled with flags and scarves of all teams. It has a beer garden, too, and  food is decent and well priced. It also contains music venue The Hive, if you’re making a night of it.

Further down Westgate, past the turning for Main Street, the excellent, away-friendly Cutlers’ Arms provides on live music and a BBQ after Rotherham games, and offers themed, locally brewed ales such as New York Pale and the Mighty Millers – beermaker Chantry on Parkgate was set up in 2012 using traditional techniques.

Close by, the New York Tavern is another Chantry outlet, dating back to 1856. Also serving visiting supporters, it displays vintage photos of Millmoor and old Rotherham teams, plus signed Rotherham shirts.

Alcohol is served in all areas of the stadium.

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