RUFC - A Look Back At Last Season - April/May
Vital Rotherham on:
Vital Rotherham on:
The 1st of the month saw the Millers relegated after a one-nil home defeat to Fulham. With most of us fans being sure of relegation since Christmas it was of little surprise that we were the first team to go down in the top six tiers of English football. But for a poor miss from Danny Ward and good saves by David Button from Lee Frecklington and Jon Taylor the Millers could have staved off the dreaded drop for another couple of days. The only consolation for Millers fans was that local rivals Sheffield Wednesday weren't sending us down the following Tuesday.
After the game Millers Manager Paul Warne said, 'There's a little bit of embarrassment. I took the reins a few months ago and I haven't been good enough to get the results to keep us up and that is on my head.
The Millers next game saw Sheffield Wednesday at the New York Stadium and two first half goals from Steven Fletcher saw the visitors climb up into the play-off places. Once again though, it could have been a different story if the Millers hadn't been so wasteful in front of goal with Callum Morris and Richard Wood missing when it looked easier to score.
'We were brighter than them in the first half,' Warney said after the two-nil loss. 'Their first goal was offside and was a bit of a game changer.'
The following day Chairman Tony Stewart announced that Paul Warne would be the Manager next season on a one year rolling contract.
'He isn't the cheap option,' Mr Stewart told us. 'The club needed someone we could trust. We had options of other Managers but we thought we needed someone we could trust, someone who has his heart and soul in the club.'
Warney himself said he was 'deeply honoured and proud' to be chosen to lead the Millers. He also asked that he be judged after a few months.
His first game as 'proper' Manager of the team saw Rotherham United travel to Wigan and despite twice going in front with goals from Danny Ward and Anthony Forde a ninety-seventh minute goal from Nick Powell gave the hosts all three points. What makes that worse is that after the ball had been punted up field by Millers' keeper Lewis Price, Powell was tormenting the goalie which Price took exception too and jumped on the Wigan subs back. From that, the referee deemed it to be a free-kick - the referee, Scott Duncan, who was up the other end of the pitch.
'My team didn't deserve to lose,' Warney said. 'I can take pride that my team stood toe-to-toe in such a game especially after the terrible run we've been on.'
This month we found out that young goalkeeper Laurence Bilboe, who has spent some time on the bench this season, had extended his contract by a year.
Next season's Season Ticket prices were announced - and there was no increase.
Warney was saying to us that any players he brought in were for the long term and he wanted them to be there for at least two or three years. He also said that he wanted to get these players in quickly.
The club told us that they were planning to hold a fans' forum before the start of next season while Mr Stewart was telling us that things 'wouldn't get any worse'.
Birmingham City were the next visitors to the New York Stadium and when Kerim Frei curled a free-kick in on the seventy-third minute the fans were fearing the worse. But with five minutes to go Danny Ward's powerful shot into the bottom corner of the net gave the hosts a points and a Good Friday.
After the draw, Warney said, 'They scored a wonder goal with the free-kick but my over riding emotion is of contentment.'
Easter Monday saw the Millers making the long trip to the Madejski Stadium to take on Reading. Things started well when Tom Adeyemi gave the visitors the lead on nineteen minutes but goals from two former Millers - Lewis Grabban and Jon Swift - gave Reading a two-one win.
'To go in one-up at half-time was a good thing and I thought if we could keep them out for the first twenty minutes of the second half we might get a positive result. Then Grabban comes on and scores a worldie,' Warney said after the game.
The next game was at home with Ipswich Town the visitors and the game that ended the Millers seventeen-game winless run. It was also the game that saw the Millers get their first penalty of the season - which Danny Ward missed. But with ten minutes to go Tom Adeyemi made up for that when he volleyed home from a corner. It also was the game that the Millers saw their only four points against one team having drawn away at Portman Road earlier in the season.
'To get to twenty-one points is a relief,' Warney said. 'I am happy about the win and happy about the clean sheet. I'm cock-a-hoop!'
The sad news was that Danny Ward went down in time added on in the first half which saw the end to his season.
Rotherham United's end of season dinner saw Danny Ward get two awards - Players' Player of the Year and the Player of the Year. Jerry Yates was awarded the Young Player of the Year and Club Captain Lee Frecklington got the Community Player of the Year. The Goal of the Year went to Will Vaulks for his screamer on the opening day of the season against Wolves.
Our roving reporter Zipadeedoodah was in attendance.
Local newspaper The Star awarded Tom Adeyemi the Rotherham Football of the Year, beating Danny Ward and Jon Taylor.
The Millers Reserves last game of the season ended in a two-nil win away at Mansfield. A Trialist scored the first goal and, as snow began to fall, Darnell Bailey-King got the second.
As the Millers were getting ready for their last away game of the season, at Preston North End, Richie Smallwood told us that he would 'love' to be with the Millers next season. (Ed Note - so what happened there then???)
We were also told that Warney was 'talking to potential signings all the time'.
And for the second consecutive year, Rotherham United were awarded the EFL Family Excellence Award for the 2016/17 season.
The Millers got a point from their visit to Deepdale. Richie Smallwood (the one who wanted to still be a Miller next season) gave the visitors the lead on nine minutes but four minutes before half-time Stevie May gave Preston a point.
The Millers Boss said, 'Back to front we were great. We got on top with a great goal from Richie but it was a wonder strike goal that got past us.'
As the season was coming to an end we were hearing rumours that Scottish club Rangers were after Will Vaulks and that the Millers were thinking of putting in another bid for Coventry's Jordan Willis, who they had a number of bids turned down for in January.
The fourth of the month (known to us Jedi's as 'Star Wars Day') saw Richie Barker back with the Millers as Warney's number two.
The final game of the season was at the New York Stadium and ended one-one against Derby County. Again the Millers went in front with skipper Lee Frecklington scoring on sixty-six minutes but after Will Hughes was upended in the box on the eighty-fourth minute and Tom Ince scored from the resulting penalty.
I'm pretty chuffed,' admitted Warney after the draw. 'I know that I am in charge of some record-breaking lows but just recently we have done well. It does give me a little bit of hope that I can manage this club for a little bit longer.'
The Millers finished the season in bottom place of the Championship on twenty-three points with Blackburn and Wigan also being relegated.
Vital Rotherham's Man of the Month for April/May was Semi Ajayi.
So that was that. A season which saw three Managers, disappointing football, records broken that we didn't want to break and the common sight of Millers fans was with head held in hands. It was the worst season I've stood/sat through that I can remember. A lot of lows not many highs.
But let's forget that now, put it behind us and give it a good go next season.