Date:Tuesday November 14 2006
The Summer seemed to last forever, bookies had us dead and buried by Christmas.
The whole of Rotherham United had come through a major transformation during the Pre-season.
The uncertainty of our financial problems, the players unloaded to ease our massive wage bill, all this on top of the worry that we would be starting the season ten points adrift from the others.
After a busy summer in the transfer market, Alan Knill started the season in charge of a totally new squad.
Nine players were brought in on slender wages and all with the knowledge that the club they were joining was massively depleted, points wise from the off.
Knills first programme notes of the season read 'We feel they are all quality players.'
'I set out with a good idea of what kind of player i wanted, and i felt it had to be someone who had something to prove while wanting to better himself'.
The first two games had all the cynics and the doom and gloom merchants chomping at the bit, as we lost firstly at home to Brighton and probably derservedly so, then we stepped up the tempo at Huddersfield, created loads of chances but came away 3-0 losers.
The situation looked rosier after the second Saturday of the season following a 1-0 victory at Blackpool.
The Millers got their first 'points' on the board, and Will Hoskins opened his account for the season.
This was followed by two more victories against Scunny in the league and a first round Carling Cup win v Oldham Athletic.
By this time the Millers were down to minus four and were looking forward to a second round Cup-tie v Norwich City.
We were just 6 points adrift of next to bottom Crewe and the doom and gloom merchants were looking for places to hide their scythes.
Next up was Bradford City away, and despite losing a centre forward and a centre half within the first 25 minutes we played good football, only to be kicked in the teeth late on with a equaliser from the old enemy, Dean Windass.
Two defeats followed at the hands of Northampton and Chesterfield.
Northampton at Millmoor will be remembered for Michael Keane's penalty miss in the 71st minute which would've put us in a unassailable two goal lead.
However, the much talked about penalty was overshadowed by a Northampton winner 11 minutes later.
A poor display at Saltergate left Rotherham almost back to square one, as we found ourselves 8 points behind 23rd place.
Ronnie Moore brought his Tranmere team to Millmoor 3 days after the Chesterfield game and went home empty Handed as the Millers turned on the style and won 2-1.
Will Hoskins scored his 4th goal in as many games and a new born confidence was shining through on the young players face.
This game also saw the ten point deficit wiped out, and from here onwards, the only way is up.
A very hard fought local derby against Doncaster brought the inevitable goalless draw on the following Saturday, before a totally unjustified 4-2 reverse scoreline against Norwich in the Carling Cup.
We passed the ball around well and created plenty of chances against the higher league opposition, but a mad two goal minute by the visitors at the start of the second half ripped the confidence out of the Rotherham team.
On Saturday 23rd of September we showed a great strength of character to come away from Leyton Orient with all 3 points.
The home side equalised twice before a late goal from Scott Wiseman brought home the points.
The Jeckyl and Hyde side of the Millers came to the fore at Oldham 3 days later, when the spirited side of Rotherham was overtaken by the inept side.
A poor performance, albeit a strong finish ended up fruitless, and we found ourselves still rooted to bottom spot when we could've made the mighty step of climbing into 23rd.
The final day of September brought, what was for me the most disappointing game of the season so far.
Millwall at home and two-nil up going towards half-time.
We gave away a needless penalty and Millwall reduced the arrears to 2-1.
Playing with our backs to the wall all second half trying to preserve our lead, we managed to concede two in the last four minutes to finish with nothing.
Then came the month when all doubts were cast aside and everybody was talking about the play-offs.
A sad demise in the Johnstone Paints Trophy at Hartlepool was embraced by two league wins either side of it.
Firstly Port Vale away and the goal of the season by the wonder kid Hoskins and his 9th goal of the season helped us to a 3-1 win.
Brentford were then cast aside 2-0 at Millmoor in a very comfortable victory.
This win saw us go into 23rd place above Leyton Orient and the minus ten scenario was just a distant memory.
After the Hartlepool fiasco came a 3-1 away win at Bournemouth
which was a real pleasure to watch, and 3 points which saw us within striking distance of a place outside the relegation zone.
Then came the ultimate shoot on sight game.
Millmoor bogey team Crewe were demolished 5 goals to 1 on a day which evoked memories of the 1989-90 season when Rotherham and Bobby Williamson were scoring for fun.
Richie Partridge ran the show on this day and weighed in with 2 goals.
Will Hoskins took his goal tally into double figures and Lee Williamson scored his 6th of the season to become one of the highest scoring midfielders in League one.
All the results went The Millers way that day and we found ourselves 5th off bottom and out of the dreaded bottom four.
Alan Knill deservedly took the Manager of the month award and the confidence around Millmoor was just sky high.
November started with a tough away game at high flying Carlisle and despite a below par performance by recent standards, we came home with a point and a first league goal from striker Delroy Facey.
This almost brings us up to date, and after a shocking exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Peterborough last Saturday, we find ourselves with no other distractions but a hopefully rewarding season in league one.
Realists will say we are looking to stay in this division, optimists such as myself say we are looking for bigger and better things.
The play-offs are only 10 points away and we have already thrown off the shackles of one 10 point gap, so why not another.
You can check out the Rotherham site http://www.rotherham.vitalfootball.co.uk/
Date:Tuesday November 14 2006
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