If football teams are like planets in some kind of orbit, paths can sometimes align for a bit. Like ours and Rotherham United. Now, we know what your first question is. You’re asking “what on earth (no pun intended) are we banging on about?“. So, we’ll try and explain this weird astronomical analogy. Quite simply, teams can go years – or even forever – without meeting each other. And it can take a huge shift in those ‘orbits’ to pull two sides together.
That’s how we see things with the Millers.
Who are Rotherham United?
Formed in 1925, it’ll take something both spectacular and tragic in equal measure to stop the Millers bringing up their ton in five years’ time. Mind you, ask specific people and they will tell you the story goes back longer; 1877 and the creation of Thornhill United is where things apparently start fo’ sho’. It’s a little bit complex, to be honest. So, we’ll skip past the politics and pre-history to 1925 again; Thornhill United (now Rotherham County) merging with Rotherham Town to create ‘United’.
The new club took Rotherham County’s place in the Football League. And that overlooks the fact that Town were also Football League members. Look – we can’t cover everything.
After spending the 1920s and 1930s middling around in Division Three North, the Millers burst into life after World War Two; ending three straight seasons in second place. It took until the fifth campaign after the war for the bridesmaids to become the brides; winning a first-ever title and gaining promotion to Division Two. For much of the 1950s and ’60s, it’s where they stayed. And, for a little bonus trivia, did you know the Millers also took part in the first-ever League Cup final? The year was 1961 and they lost 3-2 to Aston Villa*.
* … despite being 2-0 up after the first leg.
By the time the ’60s had swung out of fashion, so too had the Millers’ time in the second tier. It wasn’t a complete collapse, though. Sure – there were a few bum notes when the club found themselves in the basement division (1973-5 and 1988-9). But the second or third tier is where you’d normally find them. And that’s how it was as we ease past Sky’s invention of football in 1992. In fact, they came second in Division Four at the end of the 1991-2 campaign; winning promotion to Division Two.
The rebadging of the divisions makes it sound a lot better than it actually was.
Why do we know Rotherham United?
The late 1990s weren’t kind to the Millers, and they ended up back in the fourth tier for a three-season spell. The new century brought with it new fortunes; the club climbing back up the ladder and into the second tier. Again, it wouldn’t last. The bubble burst after four seasons and they were relegated back to League One in 2005.
After narrowly missing a second straight relegation in 2006 by two points, they weren’t so lucky in 2007 and were now facing up to life in League Two.
By this point, off-field difficulties were starting to mount. The first two seasons in League Two involved points deductions – as did their previous campaign in League One. But the troubles seemed to ease enough for them to chart a course to the 2009-10 League Two playoff final. Dagenham & Redbridge beat ’em. And it meant doing yet more stir down in League Two. This time, however, a new kid on the block from the ‘Nidge was joining ’em.
What is our record against the Millers?
Our first meeting came at the Don Valley Stadium; the Millers in-between grounds at that time. We hadn’t started the 2010-1 season brilliantly. But we came away with a point with a late John Mousinho leveller. The next time we’d meet, however, things were completely different and a confident Boro’ side ran out 3-0 winners at the Lamex. It was the first, last and only time we’ve beaten the Millers to date.
If we’re talking contrast, compare our comfortable win in January 2011 with the next time we’d meet the Millers. The 2012-3 FA Cup Round One draw saw us head up to their new New York Stadium. So new, we wrote it twice. Gary Smith‘s Boro’ side were managing to hold it together towards the League Two summit. But we’d just been tonked indoors by a swaggering Swindon Town side. A trip to a promotion-hunting Millers wasn’t ideal. And it proved to be that way; the home side creating a mini-shock by dumping us out.
Of course, the next time we’d meet would be once again as equals – and in the following season. The Millers (at long last) were back in League One, and a team now back on the up. After a comprehensive 3-0 win at our place in November 2013, they left us somewhat heartbroken in the return – played the day after Valentine’s Day. Francois Zoko got us an 86th-minute equaliser, only for the Millers to score a winner two minutes from time.
Rotherham United: Boro’s Record
Our head-to-head: P 5 — W 1 — D 1 — L 3 — F 7 — A 9 — Pts 4 — WR 20%
Our last tango: Stevenage 1-2 Rotherham United, 15 February 2014
What happened to them?
The 2013-4 season was a piss-poor one for us. For the Millers, it was the opposite. Not content with being back in League One, they passed straight through; returning back to the Championship via the playoffs. It was a constant struggle. Twice in a row they came fourth bottom. We should, however, admit that daylight did exist between them and the three sides who were relegated. In the third season, there was no such luck – and there were no three other sides to prop them up. And down to League One they went.
It was also the start of a vicious yo-yo. Rotherham United have either been promoted or relegated between the Championship and League One in each of the last four seasons; currently playing in the second tier (2020-1). Looking at the table, it’s far too soon to say whether they’ll survive – or take the plunge and swap divisions for a fifth time in as many years. Lads! Come on. Just pick a division and settle on it. A bit of stability is OK, y’know.
• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Rotherham United club profile