RUFC - Chairman 'visiting fans will be astounded'
Rotherham United Chairman Tony Stewart was recently interviewed on RotherFM by James Bolton and began by speaking about when he first took over the club.
'I remember my first match, which was the last one at Millmoor, when I stood on the pitch and introduced myself. We won one-nil against Barnet and it was the first and last bit of Millmoor for me,' Mr Stewart recalls. 'There is no doubt that Millmoor will always have the nostalgia and rightly so but I believe if we hadn't taken that step and moved from Millmoor to Don Valley that the new stadium would have been up and ready for use as it is today. Rotherham Football Club playing in Sheffield was never going to wash with the fans so it created an urgency for us to do something.
'Then we spent four season's at Don Valley where the hospitality, the food, the décor with regards provisions for the fans was first class. Where it fell short was the pitch and the lack of atmosphere was felt by the fans and the players but, what it did do was allow me and the directors to prepare for this new stadium giving us four years of preparation. And, when you look at the stadium today I think those years have been spent wisely.
'What we hadn't got at Don Valley we've got here - the acoustics, the near-to pitch, atmosphere, the PA System, the quality of the seating and a fully enclosed stadium. In fact, this stadium is better than I thought it would be.
'People have commented on the fact that it's like a smaller version of the Emirates Stadium. Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham fans have asked me 'what's happening in Rotherham', 'what's this big Colosseum that's being built?' and that is quite flattering. And I've no doubt that when we get the away fans arriving they will be astounded.
'It's also a statement to people that we, in Rotherham, are serious about our football and we've got a wow factor in the stadium. But, a good stadium without a good team isn't good. We want the other fifty per cent now and a wow factor with the football. And we are aiming to do that with a new manager, a new stadium, ten new lads in we are going places.
'Steve Evans was attracted to Rotherham because he thought we were ambitious and when he came up to have a look at the new stadium he said anyone who is seriously going to invest money to that means has got to be taking football seriously. And I know Steve has been able to recruit good players into Rotherham United's team on the back of the fact that our commitment and ambition to move up the league is believed.'
Speaking about the Manager Mr Stewart said that he had always had a good relationship with his managers and that Steve Evans had helped him by moving players out and using that cash to bring players in. 'There are going to be times when you have to put your hand in your pocket for injuries and things like that and I've always thought, in football, that it's not good being positive with the head and negative with the wallet.'
Rotherham United have four friendlies scheduled for the New York Stadium, starting tomorrow when Barnsley are here and Mr Stewart said these games are important, 'It's a new stadium and we need to get used to that, the players need to get accustomed to it and get acclimatised to the pitch and we all welcome the fact that we have got quite a few games before we start the league. It will be good preparation to get to feel the atmosphere because, don't forget, we will have fans on all sides of the ground and we just want to build it up and build it up for the new season.'
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