Rotherham United are in the League One Play-Offs – but it won’t be the first time they’ve been in this position.
The Play-Offs were introduced in 1987 and Rotherham United are heading for the League One Play-Offs at the end of this current season – a position they have been in four times before.
The Millers first brush with the play-offs came at the end of that season but not for reason’s we would want to remember. It was a strange kettle of fish, so to speak, when the powers who be (yes, I am rolling my eyes here) decided it would be ‘fun’ to have ‘relegation play-offs’ when the team in fourth bottom of Division Three, Rotherham, would take on the team in sixth place in Division Four, which was Swansea.
Already relegated from Division Three were Grimsby, York and Doncaster Rovers.
The Millers travelled to Wales to Vetch Field with the only goal of the game coming five minutes from time from the Swans’ Sean McCarthy. The next leg at Millmoor saw McCarthy score for the visitors on nineteen minutes but when Nigel Johnson popped up a minute into the second half to score for Rotherham it gave the Millers fans hope. But Swansea held on and won the tie on aggregate going on to take on Torquay in a two-legged final which saw the Welsh side win five-four on aggregate and they were promoted to Division Three while Rotherham took their place in Division Four.
Strangely enough, this was the one and only time this format was used – can’t think why?!
The second time was at the end of the 1998/99 season when the Millers were in the Old Third Division. Brentford, Cambridge and Cardiff City were promoted with Scunthorpe, Rotherham, Leyton Orient and Swansea set to fight it out in the play-offs.
The Millers played their two legs against Leyton Orient with both games ending goalless. The second game was at Millmoor and neither team scored in extra time so it was to the ‘dreaded’ penalty shoot-out.
The shoot-out was at the Tivoli end of the ground with Steve Thompson scoring for the hosts with the first kick. Dean Smith of Orient levelled it up beating Mike Pollitt in the Rotherham goal. Andy Roscoe took the next penalty which Orient ‘keeper Scott Barrett easily got down to and pushed away. Next taker was Martin Ling who let fly sending the ball into the corner. Paul Hurst then stepped up for the hosts but again Barrett was equal to the spot-kick. Dave Morrison made it three-one to Orient with Mark Williams giving the Millers a life-line making it three-two. But it was all over when Matthew Lockwood slotted into the bottom corner giving Orient a four-two victory. Orient went on to take on Scunthorpe at Wembley, losing one-nil to a Jandro sixth minute goal.
The end of the 2009/10 season saw Rotherham United finish fifth in League Two and go on to face two games over Aldershot. The first leg was at the Recreation Ground when a goal two minutes from time from Adam Le Fondre send the travelling Millers home happy. In the second leg at Don Valley Le Fondre opened the scoring two minutes before half-time with Kevin Ellison sending the South Yorkshire club into a Wembley final with a goal on sixty-eight minutes – which gave the Millers a three-nil aggregate.
30 May 2010 was the date of the League Two Play-Off Final when the Millers met Dagenham and Redbridge. It was an exciting game which saw the Daggers take the lead on thirty-eight minutes from their top scorer Paul Benson. But just a minute later Ryan Taylor equalised heading in a Kevin Ellison cross. Eleven minutes into the second half the London side went ahead again this time Danny Green scoring. But four minutes later the Millers were back level again Ryan Taylor scoring drilling the ball into the back of the net. On seventy minutes the Daggers took the lead for the third time when Barbados International Jon Nurse hit the net after Rotherham had failed to clear a corner properly. With Millers fans urging them on time ran out for Ronnie Moore and his team with the Daggers getting promoted to League One.
The last time the Millers were at Wembley was when Steve Evans guided them to the 2013/14 League One Play-Offs.
With Wolves and Brentford already promoted Rotherham, who finished in fourth place, took on fifth placed Preston North End in the two-legged semi-finals. The first game at Deepdale was a one-all draw with Alex Revell opening the scoring for the visitors and Joe Garner equalising in the second half. The game at the New York Stadium five days later saw Preston go ahead on sixteen minutes with a Paul Gallagher goal. Seven minutes later a Ben Pringle free-kick found Wes Thomas who equalised and ten minutes after that Lee Frecklington headed the hosts in front. On sixty-seven minutes a good cross from Frecklington found James Tavernier who rolled the ball inside the area to Kieran Agard for his twenty-sixth goal of the campaign and gave the Millers another go at a play-off final.
25th May 2014 saw the Millers back at Wembley when their opponents were Leyton Orient.
When Orient took a two-nil lead into half-time the Millers fans were a bit disheartened – Moses Odubajo scored a twenty-five yard unstoppable shot followed by a Dean Cox tap in on thirty-nine minutes. Words were said at half-time and ten minutes into the second half Rotherham pulled one back with a tap in goal from Alex Revell. Five minutes later Revell was at it again and his ‘ambitious but brilliant’ goal made it two-all and Steve Evans flew down the pitch, having to stop to hitch his trousers up on the way – where he was off to nobody has ever found out!
The game went into extra time and the teams still couldn’t be separated so it was those dreaded penalties again. Kieran Agard scored for the Millers with Lloyd James equalising. A miss from Lee Frecklington and a goal from John Lundstram saw the O’s in front. Ben Pringle was next and sent the ball down the middle to make it two-two. Clarke scored and Orient were back in front. James Tavernier stepped up and made it three-three. Mathieu Baudry was next but Adam Collin made a super save and then it was Richie Smallwood who collected the ball, put it on the spot, looked up and sent it flying into the net. Chris Dagnell took the ball for Orient but a superb stop from Collin saw the Millers win the shoot-out four-three.
There were cheers, tears and beers for the next few hours as Millers from far and wide celebrated a Wembley victory and a place in the Championship.