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New York! The city that never sleeps, or at least that’s what Frank Sinatra sings about in one of his biggest hits, named after the metropolis. Whether this is true or not, I don’t know, but the fact is that nearly 10 million people call New York their home, and that it is one of the cultural and political centers of the world.
Rotherham, South Yorkshire! A town with a population of less than 150,000 people! And while steel components, which later form the final appearance of the Formula 1 Renault cars or the Airbus aircrafts, are made there, there is absolutely no way in which we can compare this place with New York.
You’re probably already wondering what this article is all about, so let me start with the actual story.
FC Rotherham United is one of those smaller teams in England, going up and down like an elevator between the third and fourth levels of the football system here. Well, at the beginning of the 21st century they played a bit in the Championship, but without great success. Nowadays they are in League 2 and have just started their quest to promotion next season.
In other words, they’re a more or less small club with no spectacular achievements in their 140-year history. Yes, people like Neil Warnock, Mark Robins and Jody Morris have been part of this team over the years, but the truth is that recently there has been more trouble than joyful moments.
Particularly woeful is the period between 2006 and 2008, when the club twice went into administration due to the poor financial situation, which in turn led to fines, point deduction, and constant changes of managers.
I want to take you back a bit back in time, exactly in 2008, when something happened that is of great importance for the history of the “Millers” and that had it not happened, this article would never have been written.
It was then that Rotherham United were asked to leave the stadium which they had called their home since 1907, Millmoor. This happened because of an argument between the board and owners of the stadium- the Booth family. Clearly, this was a big blow not only for the board, but also for the players and coaches, and especially for the fans.
And since there were no other stadiums in Rotherham to accommodate “The Millers”, they were forced to move to Sheffield, to the legendary Don Valley Stadium.
But you know what- this just wasn’t Rotherham’s home. The fans were having a hard time accepting the fact that their team has to play in Sheffield, attendances were dropping…but you can’t really blame them, can you? The history wasn’t there, the memories weren’t there- this just wasn’t their fortress, and it was never going to be a real home like Millmoor had been.
Which is why, in 2010, it was announced that Rotherham FC will be moving to New York…no, not New York, USA, but rather New York Stadium, Rotherham, South Yorkshire.
With some of the money coming from the City Council and some coming from chairman Tony Stewart, the building process began two years ago. The location of the new stadium is near the city center and it is named New York Stadium because the land on which it is standing was called New York in the 18th century.
Things were running more or less smoothly, although there were things that could have caused problems. For example, they had to raise the land by 3 meters to avoid potential floods, says Matt Young, the club’s press officer.
But no matter what they had to go through, the people from the football club made sure everything was perfect, and so this little gem hosted its first official game on the 18th of August.
By the way, the stadium cost about 25 million pounds and its capacity is 12 000 seats. The average attendance at Don Valley was about 3700, so probably everyone connected to The Millers in one way or another was hoping to see a full house on the opening day of the 2012/13 League Two season, which coincided with the first official game to be played at New York Stadium.
And the fans didn’t let them down. 11 500 people went to show their support for their local team, and what a great day it turned out to be- a 3:0 victory against Burton Albion in their opening fixture. The fans, players and manager couldn’t have wished for a better start and a better occasion to achieve such an emphatic win over “The Brewers”.
The team performed well in pre-season and Steve Evans is a good manager, but there must have been some doubts as to whether the team is ready to go out and win with confidence. After all, 11 new players were signed and 16 from last season’s squad left.
But they were ready. More than ready, even. New signings Daniel Nardiello and Kayode Odejayi scored two goals within the first 10 minutes, and one of the few players that were in the team last season- Ben Pringle- scored the third in the second half.
But it’s not the game that’s important now. It’s the fact that The Millers are back home:
“What a wonderful day! It was great walking down Rotherham’s own ‘Wembley Way’ with so many people, and particularly good to see so many youngsters. Anyone going for the first time must have been impressed.”
“When I started going to Millmoor we used to get crowds of 12-15k, and I loved walking with people, picking up the banter. Today reminded me of those happy days.”
“Went to the NYS yesterday and was very impressed with the ground, excellent views all round, good atmosphere and a good game/result.”
“Today has made me proud for so many reasons, especially our new ground been full, and our new team winning but the main thing which stood out was that we took our town centre back. Back from the scumbags, dossers, junkies, chavs, immigrants, foreigners and foul mouthed resident drunks found on every corner, bench and in every pub every day of the week. Today it was us who was the centre of attention in town. No trouble, no fuss, just us – proper Rotherham people (men, women, children) having a nice time free of fear, intimidation and not embarrassed to be wearing the red and white of Rotherham United. Long may it continue!”
“it felt beautiful. it felt like a 7 yr old kid playing freely on a never ending summers day.”
Those are just some of the fan’s reactions and thoughts, shared on various fan message boards and forums after the game yesterday. And it doesn’t really matter what their exact words are, the only thing that matters is the fact, that each and every one of these comments are full of love, emotion, passion.
“The pride of South Yorkshire”, that’s how the stadium announcer used to call the team at Don Valley! Well, they will probably never be as successful as their local rivals from Sheffield- United and Wednesday- but The Millers definitely are one of the things that make the local population proud.
Rotherham, New York, South Yorkshire…it’s all a bit confusing, isn’t it? But it doesn’t really matter. The only thing that matters is that “The Millers” are back in Rotherham. Welcome home, boys…