Very Rough Guide to Div 4: Rotherham United

Very Rough Guide to Division 4Rovrum United
Rotherham United?
I do realise this article is rather redundant, mainly because we played (and lost) to Rotherham last Saturday, making the ‘preview’ part of this series a bit misleading.

But I will go ahead with this article for the sake of not leaving any gaps in the VRG index page.

Rotherham United, then. The Millers. Up until twelve months ago or so, we were friends. A decent away ground, good honest fans with a good sense of humour and the occasional Yorkshire flavoured three points. But recently our relationship’s gone a little bit off the rails, it has. And suddenly all Rotherham fans are ‘cheating Yorkshire bastards’ and all Daleys are ‘whinging scum’.

I will try not to mention the words ‘glass, ‘nails’ or ‘U2′ in this article.

Rotherham United Football Club were founded in 1925, an amalgamation of Rotherham Town and Rotherham County, which themselves were formed from the roots of Thornhill United, Lunar Rovers, and Rotherham’s Casuals and Grammar School. This new Rotherham United entered the Football League Second Division, wore amber and black and fared poorly (as all teams in amber and black do). Changing to the now familiar red and white, Rotherham still did not have a successful season until the late 40’s, after the war, and finished as runners-up in the Third (North) three times before finally winning it in ’51. This was Rotherham’s golden(ish) period, and in 1955 they almost made it to the top-flight, but were denied by goal average. (What the hell is goal average by the way?).

By 1973, Rotherham were in the Rochdale Division, very much leading a Rochdale existence by playing crap teams in front of no fans and wearing tiny shorts. They went up occasionally, swiftly followed by a drop down again usually; although at one point they did retain a place in the Second tier for a while before twiddling down again into the Fourth by the late 80s. The 90s that followed were similar in that Rotherham occasionally forayed up a division before deciding they didn’t like all that competitiveness and slipped below again. Until 2000 that is.

Ronnie Moore was the fella that did it. Under the former Millers’ striker’s leadership, Rotherham’s successive promotions in ’00 and ’01 brought them up to the second tier of English football for the first time in decades. They even stayed there for four seasons (and I don’t mean winter, spring, summer and autumn). Rotherham seemed to be beating the system, showing that small town teams can compete in the higher leagues with a combination of good management and ambition. But there was a problem. Rotherham didn’t have any money. The squad that Moore had built up was funded partly by ITV Digital money that never came and partly by selling Rotherham’s home of Millmoor to a man called Ken Booth (who now won’t give it back). Rotherham, despite appearing to buck the trend, were playing above their means, spending money they didn’t have. And we all know what follows don’t we.

Altogether now… “Administration!”. That’s right kids, give yourselves a biscuit. Or 10p in the £’s worth of a biscuit if you’re a Rotherham fan (about three crumbs).

Yes, The Millers went under and came out through a CVA in ’06/07, accepting the puny ten point penalty that the FA had awarded them. New owner Dennis Coleman immediately steadied the ship, and under the guidance of current Bury manager Alan Knill, they did decently in League One (the Third tier) up until Christmas, before dropping like a stone to finish in the relegation places by the May 07. They were back in the Rochdale Division.

Not content with a single administration however, Rotherham entered it again in 2008, after failing to bounce straight back up into League One. This resulted in last season’s 17 point penalty and their largely pointless 46 matches last year. Also they lost their home, with owner Ken Booth refusing to do a deal with Rotherham over Millmoor, forcing United to leave the borough of Rotherham entirely. They now play at an athletics track in Sheffield.

New owner Tony Stewart has vowed to plough money into Rotherham to help them get back up the League structure. We remember what happened the last two times people said that. Forgive us if we do not love you now Rotherham. Our problem isn’t with you but with the League’s system and the chairmen who buy clubs on a whim only to make them insolvent a couple of years later. We do not dislike Rotherham United fans, we only dislike your club (and especially your stadium).

Last season?
They were given a 17 point penalty for their second administration, plus some dodgy CVA ruling, so Rotherham played largely good football with their strong squad without ever fearing a relegation spot (as Luton and Bournemouth were far worse off) and without ever challenging for the playoff spots. Reuben Reid, who played about 20 minutes for Rochdale a couple of years ago, scored a bagful and headed off to the Baggies for a million pounds in the off-season. They played well and won a lot, in short.

This season?
Probable promotion contenders. Not only have they brought in such luminaries as Paul Warne and Tom Pope, but they went and signed Adam le Fondre from us for around £150,000, using the Reid money. Their signing of Alfie is particularly galling given that Rotherham still don’t actually play in Rotherham, but I guess that’s the way with football these days. Of the season so far, the Millers have won three of four games and lie in the promotion spots of the admittedly embryonic league table. And they beat us 2-1. Alfie scored. And I won’t mention nails or glass.

Rotherham the place?
A friend from Rotherham assures me that it is a ‘shithole’, but then he also watches entire marathons of Red Dwarf instead of going out and talking to people, so his judgment is to be described as ‘hazy’. Like nearby Sheffield, Rotherham has a history of metalworking and industry, which has undergone a downturn of sizeable magnitude leaving Rotherham another one of these husks of the Industrial Revolution; all terraced housing and no work.

The most famous Rotherhamites are ‘comedians’ The Chuckle Brothers, who are now pushing 65, making them just five years younger than their jokes. Barry and Paul are honorary directors of the football club, and occasionally appear at the ground, in some cases giving young children their first ever real cringe. Moustachioed goalkeeper David Seaman also hails from Rotherham, as does Tory egghead William Hague. Wide-faced shouty man Paul Shane also comes from the town, although his tag of ‘famous’ is debateable.

Rotherham United in a word?

Written by Matt Boothman on 26th August 2009.


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