Rotherham emerging from the shadows

ROTHERHAM United, surviving in the shadows of the two big Sheffield clubs, have enjoyed their moments of glory in the past.

ROTHERHAM United, surviving in the shadows of the two big Sheffield clubs, have enjoyed their moments of glory in the past, writes Tony Garnett.

In 1955 they were denied a place in Division One on goal average, promotion being won by Birmingham City and Luton Town, all three clubs ending with 54 points in the days when it was two points for a win and one for a draw. Leeds United were fourth that season with 53 points.

That was the season Ipswich Town were relegated back to Division Three (South) under Adam Scott Duncan. It was also the only season they had lost in nine previous league visits to Millmoor. Town went down 3-2 on the opening day of the campaign with goals from Tom Garneys and John Elsworthy.

In the Alf Ramsey era, before Town's glory seasons, Ipswich scored three successive wins at Rotherham – 4-1, 2-1 and 4-1, with goals coming from Garneys, Derek Rees, Doug Millward, Ray Crawford, Ted Phillips and Aled Owen.


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The Millers held Ipswich to a 1-1 draw when Ipswich carried off the Division Two title for the first time.

The clubs met up again in 1964-65 with three successive draws at Millmoor before Town returned to winning ways in 1966-67 when Danny Hegan scored twice in a 2-0 win.

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The most recent visit was on November 18, 1967, when Ipswich won 3-1 with goals from Hegan, Frank Brogan and Charlie Woods.

In all, Ipswich have won five league matches at Millmoor, drawn three and lost only one.

Form of more than 36 years ago means nothing now. Rotherham were unfortunate not to beat Leicester City the Saturday before last and took the points off Wimbledon in the home match before that.

Manager Ronnie Moore, who thought he had landed the job as successor to George Burley at Ipswich, has developed a splendid dressing room spirit which has enabled journeyman players to retain a highly respectable mid-table position.

Goals have been relatively few and far between at Rotherham. Twenty- one home matches have resulted in a goal aggregate of 23-22.

Defensively Rotherham are sound with a physical approach. Goalkeeper Mike Pollitt sustained a knee injury in the defeat at Stoke to end his run of 200 consecutive appearances. Ian Gray, who cost £200,000 from Stockport County, has been deputising.

Central defender Chris Swailes is well-known to Ipswich Town fans. He was the makeweight in the transfer deal that brought David Johnson to Portman Road from Bury in November 1997.

Alongside is Martin McIntosh, a Scot who joined Hibernian for £250,000 from Stockport and then returned to England to play for Rotherham for £125,000. Guy Branston, a left-footed defender, started his career with Leicester City. He had two loan spells at Colchester and joined Rotherham for £50,000 in 1999.

Gareth Farrelly was the most influential of the Rotherham midfield men against Leicester, but his loan spell from Bolton has come to an end. Rotherham cannot afford to take him on a permanent basis, as much as they would like to have done.

Nick Daws, a free transfer man from Bury, sparky right-winger Chris Sedgwick, who emerged through the youth policy, and former Sheffield United and England Under-21 international Curtis Woodhouse could be key men in midfield. Woodhouse faces a late fitness test. Paul Hurst, the 5ft 4in full-back fit after injury, gives balance down the left. He developed through the ranks and was supporters' player of the year last campaign.

Up front, Rotherham have plenty of options. It looks as though Alan Lee is a certain starter. Mark Robins is also in the squad. He moved from Manchester United to Norwich City for £800,000 in 1992 and on to Leicester City for £1 million in 1995, is now nearing the end of his career, which has taken him to Deportivo Orense in Spain and Panionios in Greece. Only a few weeks ago he did so well on loan to Bristol City that they wanted him to stay.

Richie Barker, who scored in Rotherham's 2-1 win at Portman Road in December, and Darren Byfield both have eight goals.

Paul Warne, who played in the Jewson Eastern Counties League for Wroxham until 1997, usually has a place on the bench. He moved to Wigan for £25,000 before joining Rotherham on a free transfer in 1999.

Andy Monkhouse, Darren Garner and Rob Scott are long-term injuries while John Mullin, sent off at Stoke, was fined by the club.

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