Rotherham United kick-off their new season in League One on Saturday with an away game at Kingsmeadow (or the Cherry Red Records Stadium) against AFC Wimbledon.
We’ve obviously played our share of away first games in the past but (and say this quietly) looking through the records the Millers haven’t won many of those in the last few seasons.
Last season was a pretty dismal affair at Griffin Park with hosts Brentford going five-up before Will Vaulks pulled one back in the dying seconds for the Millers and the season before wasn’t much better after we’d ‘bigged’ our team up against Fleetwood only to get a slap in the face with a two-nil loss.
In a Championship game in 2014 we fared a little better putting up a good fight against Derby at Pride Park losing out to an eighty-second minute Jeff Hendrick goal but the year before that was an interesting game at Gresty Road against Crewe Alexandra. Anthony Grant put the hosts in front on three minutes with Max Clayton doubling the score six minutes later. Lee Frecklington made it two-one on ten minutes but after a clumsy challenge by Claude Davis just after half-time the Alex got their two goal advantage back from a Harry Davis penalty. The Millers put in a shift in the second half and perhaps should have scored before they Ben Pringle’s eighty-sixth minute goal but a cracking volley from Frecklington with practically the last kick of the game sent the travelling fans home happy with a point.
The year before that we got a draw in the Capital One Cup against Hull City who were two leagues above us, losing on penalties. (I can’t exactly remember why the first game of the season was a Saturday Cup game but it was) with 2007 saw us make the long trek to Hereford to play out a pretty uninspiring goalless draw and three years previous we got a point at Loftus Road thanks to a fifteenth minute Paul Shaw goal after Gareth Ainsworth had put Queens Park Rangers in front in the opening minutes.
But the last time the Millers actually won an away game on the opening day of the season was back in 2002. But what a game that was! Ronnie Moore took his Rotherham United side to London to The Den home of Millwall which, on paper looked like it would be pretty much a forgone conclusion after the Millers had narrowly escaped defeat the season before and the Lions had got as far as the play-off semi-finals but . . . well, things were pretty quiet for the first twenty minutes or so and then a cross in from a certain Paul Warne for new boy Darren Byfield saw the striker head the visitors in front. Poor handling from Tony Warner in the Lions’ goal two minutes before half-time saw a Martin McIntosh free-kick go through his arms to make it two-nil to the Millers at half-time. Seven minutes into the second-half a bit of a mix-up between ‘keeper and defender saw Byfield nip in for his second and although Millwall gave caution to the wind and swept forward it was Chris Sedgwick on seventy-one minutes who fired home the fourth for Rotherham. Ten minutes later Byfield got his hat-trick with a chip from the edge of the area and went on to get a fourth – and the Millers sixth – less than sixty seconds later when he rounded the ‘keeper to put the ball into the net.
So, how will we fair on Saturday away at Wimbledon? Well, looking at the last few season’s things don’t look too rosy BUT let’s forget all those and concentrate on a game seventeen years ago – because that game will be on the minds of most of the travelling Rotherham fans on Saturday, I’m sure!
At the moment a popular bookie has the Millers at 9/5 to win and Wimbledon 6/4. And it seems the draw is around 9/4 which is what I’m going for with anything else, to me, being a bonus.