Denounced as one of the worst grounds in the land – but I liked Rotherham’s Millmoor!
Football writer Carl Marston has visited 120 Football League grounds, many of them reporting on Ipswich Town. Here he spotlights Millmoor, Rotherham’s old home, ahead of Tuesday night’s trip to the Millers
Rotherham United, who play host to Ipswich Town next Tuesday evening, have been happily installed in their New York Stadium since the Olympic year of 2012.
But for me, nothing beat their former home at Millmoor for the good old-fashioned footballing experience - a less-than-perfect stadium, a few disjointed stands, some rather bleak surroundings, but a cracking atmosphere and a friendly welcome to boot - plus, more often than not, Ipswich Town used to win there!
So why does Millmoor rate so highly on my list of cherished memories?
The old wooden main stand always seemed ready to want to fall down, the seating was cramped (no leg room) and I recall the cosy press box perched in one corner of the main stand, looking very out of place, with even a few old bus seats to sit on in the back row.
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There was no room to swing a cat, and I often had difficulty making out the goalscorers at the far end (a lame excuse, I know!).
Moreover, Millmoor has not hosted professional football since 2008, when the owners of Millmoor and the Club owners failed to reach a lease agreement, leading to a temporary stay at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield, and eventually a new home at New York Stadium.
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The planned new development of the main stand at Millmoor (the old one had survived, warts-and-all, since the 1950s) remains unfinished. Work was halted several times, including famously after the discovery of Japanese knotweed on site, and in recent years Millmoor has merely hosted occasional youth football matches.
And yet I liked it.
Many away supporters dismissed it as one of the worst grounds to visit in the land (at around the turn of the century), not helped by the rather basic amenities in the away end, the Railway End, a predominantly tin structure which could only be approached along Millmoor Lane, the narrowest of very narrow alleyways.
But there was a charm about the place, especially when parking the car close to such esteemed establishments as a scrapyard or a long-forgotten industrial works.
Indeed, only last summer a nearby large recycling company submitted a planning application to enable part of Millmoor to support its scrap operations for recycling London's old trains.
Millmoor's future, like its past, will be lacking in glamour, but I liked it.
- Club: Rotherham United
- Founded: May, 1925 (95 years ago) as a merger of Rotherham County (1877) and Rotherham Town (1899)
- Ground: New York Stadium (since 2012)
- Town's first visit (to Millmoor): 3-2 away defeat on August 24, 1954
- Town's last visit (to Millmoor): 2-0 away win on August 28, 2004
- Town's overall record (at Rotherham): P16 W8 L5 D3
Rotherham United played in the first League Cup Final, in 1961, although this two-legged tie against Aston Villa straddled two seasons.
The Millers won the first leg, 2-0 at home, but the second leg at Villa Park was delayed until the following campaign due to Villa's congested fixture list.
Perhaps the impetus was lost, with the time lapse. Certainly the Millers were not helped by the long gap, losing 3-0 after extra-time to lose 3-2 on aggregate.
As a footnote, the League Cup final was contested over two legs for the first six years of the competition, and during this period several top-flight clubs refused to take part, allowing clubs from outside the First Division to regularly reach the final. Norwich City, QPR and Swindon all won the League Cup as clubs from outside the top division, in those early years.
Town's visits/Carl's experience
They don't come much better than the year 2004, in terms of Ipswich Town's visits to Millmoor, and in terms of Shefki Kuqi!
These were to be Town's last visits to Millmoor - there was an 11-year gap before Town returned to Rotherham, to play at the New York Stadium, situated nearby.
First there was a 3-1 win in April, 2004, when Kuqi netted an injury-time third in a 3-1 away win. Town were trailing at the break before Jermaine Wright and Darren Bent both hit the target.
Four months later, on August 28, Kuqi obliged with a brace, either side of half-time, in a 2-0 win - the First Division had just been rebranded as the Championship.