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RUST Ramblings 23rd October 2002 - Issue 16
Welcome to the latest round of gossip, opinion and rumours from a disappointed Millers fan.
Firstly, to matters on the field of play, another point gained in our quest to achieve that magical 50-point mark. Or was it two points lost? A magnificent travelling support of well over 2,000 Millers supporters left Blundell Park wondering just how we hadn’t managed to beat nine man Grimsby. Let me start by saying that, at least in my opinion, this was a poor game involving two poor teams that was livened up only by an absolutely pathetic refereeing performance.
For the opening twenty or so minutes, the game was a total non event, Grimsby’s tactics of defending in numbers and trying to play a direct long ball style had been easily dealt with by our defence. Lee and Byfield were beginning to find their feet in the home half and the signs were good that we could score a few goals. Then our old friend from his Sheffield United days, Santos, having already been booked decided to make things worse for himself and his team. A nasty challenge from Garner, Santos reacted badly and the referee awarded him a straight red card. In the melee Branston somehow received a yellow card, when for once, he appeared to be trying to prevent any escalation of the incident. Down to ten men, surely we thought, the Mariners were there for the taking!
Unfortunately, the home team raised their game, abandoned their long ball style and for the rest of the half, it must have looked as though Rotherham were the side with ten men. During the interval, we all thought that our extra man would count as the game wore on. Our chances of another away victory took a real turn for the better when Paul Raven, once on loan at Rotherham, having already scythed down Alan Lee, repeated the feat and off he went. Lee had been booked himself just minutes before, apparently for "diving”. This was a quite incredible decision, one of many that the referee managed to get wrong.
Back to the game, still a bit of a non-event, and against nine men, we all were absolutely certain that we would win. Once again, Grimsby raised their game, their crowd began to make some noise and instead of Rotherham taking the game to the home side, we were on the backfoot! Byfield was having a nightmare, he wasn’t the only one, Warne, Garner and Daws were struggling to put any passes together, and this was fast becoming an embarrassment.
Fortunately, Ronnie was also aware of this and three substitutions were made in rapid succession. Monkhouse, Robins and Mullin came on for Garner, Warne and Byfield and suddenly we began to push forward. Robins in particular looked dangerous and Monkhouse beat the defender time and time again. Despite at last beginning to dominate the game, we still seemed quite unable to create any real clear-cut chances. Worse than that, Pollitt had to make two marvellous saves to prevent an unlikely home win, the second of these a wonderful tip over from a shot by Cooke. As the whistle blew to signal the end of the game, the large contingent of Millers trundled away feeling like we’d lost. Contrast the home fans, cheering their side off and claiming a moral victory.
Make no mistake; this was one of our poorest performances for many years. We just didn’t seem to know how to play against nine or ten men. Our passing was abysmal and seemed to take ages to build from defence to our attackers. This allowed the depleted home team to easily get back in numbers and they always appeared to have all their players behind the ball. Their lone striker, Kabba, constantly kept three or sometimes four of our defenders at full stretch. Ronnie had stated in several pre-match interviews that Kabba had pace, but most of our team seemed a bit scared to tackle him! We must improve otherwise our brilliant start will be wasted and we’ll be among the strugglers.
Whether, the Ronnie Moore situation had any bearing on the way our team performed, we’ll probably never know. However, since his announcement that he would like to talk to Ipswich, there’s no doubt that there has been an air of doom and gloom about the club in general. This seems to have transferred from the supporters through to the players if recent performances are anything to go by. We had a tremendous away following at Cleethorpes last weekend, well over two thousand, yet for the most part there wasn’t a great deal of encouragement from them for the team. In turn, the tam lacked that usual spark that has been so evident away from home. I went to the game with a couple of Grimsby fans and they were really impressed with our numbers but thought we were really quiet for most of the ninety minutes. It’s difficult to get excited about a performance that so lacked any passion.
On the manager front, a clear the air meeting between Ronnie and Ken Booth appears to have resolved the situation, at least for now. We must get back to how we were performing just a few weeks ago and quickly. Our fans can play a part and start getting behind the team. Saturday we are at home to Stoke City, just a couple of season’s back, we beat them on our way to promotion from Division Two. Just how far we’ve come since then is shown by the fact that all the pundits and bookies alike make us clear cut favourites to beat them. This is in complete contrast to the last time we met, when Stoke were massively fancied to win. I’m absolutely certain that one good win will change everything and put us back on the road to a comfortable mid table berth. Let’s get down to Millmoor and cheer the team on, they’ve performed wonders so far, with the help of the fans, we might yet have a season to remember!
FANS FORUM 28th November. 7:30pm Carlton Park Hotel
If you cannot get there why not email a question?
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Changing the subject somewhat, it seems that Leicester are pushing for a decision on the proposed purchase of their Stand. They have just gone into Administration and want to know if we, Rotherham United, are to stump up the cash for the old Filbert Street stand. Word is that Ken Booth is reluctant, if not down right hostile to shelling out millions of quid on a stand that we won’t be able to fill and the deal will not now get the go ahead! I suppose that we all expected the news, it’s just so frustrating. Having announced a profit of almost £2 million at the end of the last financial year, the club has been quick to say that this was only achieved because of the ITV Digital payments. They claim that because there won’t be anything from ITV this season, the club will almost certainly be declaring an operating loss come the end of the current financial year. In my opinion this appears to be a move to quash any thoughts the supporters or more importantly the management team might have of any player acquisitions! If this is the case, I still reckon Ronnie will be off the first time any firm offer comes in.
So where does that leave us, the fans? What hope is there? Despite some recent blips in form, our team continues to perform way above expectations. In addition to this, our manager is one of the most sought after in the country, yet we are saddled with a Chairman that lives in the past and one that is happy to see Millmoor remain the laughing stock of the Nationwide League. In the midst of the Ipswich affair, Ronnie claimed that he had taken Rotherham as far as he could. I disagree, some real investment now in team strengthening and improving facilities at Millmoor and Ronnie Moore might yet achieve the impossible and take our little club into the Promised Land of the Premiership. In the meantime, supporters can start to force the issue by joining RUST, formed just a couple of years ago but growing steadily in numbers. The Supporters Trust are now in a position of having a real say, statements printed in the Press and time allocated to them by local radio have all served to heighten our profile. The club is beginning to take note, almost certainly due to the increased membership. Together we can make a difference, strength in numbers will continue to make the club sit up and take notice.
I honestly believe that we are at the crossroads and this season could well be a make or break one. We are after all just one division below the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal. One day soon we might even join them!
Finally for this week and for those overseas subscribers, here is my assessment of the team that played against Grimsby: -
· Pollitt: Two superb saves preserved a point, a steadying influence all afternoon. 8
· Hurst: Saw a lot of the ball, struggled to pass the ball and needed too much time when in possession. 6
· Bryan: Started well and originated everything that was good about our first half performance. Tired visibly in second period. 6
· Branston: Incorrectly cautioned after which, he struggled against the lively Kabba, appeared pre-occupied with trying to avoid second caution and sending off. 5
· McIntosh: Not one of his better performances appeared to miss the suspended Swailes. Hesitant at times. 6
· Garner: Did well in the first half despite his fracas with Santos. Faded in the second period. 6
· Daws: Had a difficult afternoon, needed too much time on the ball and was often dispossessed. 5
· Warne: Another performance to forget for the out of form forward cum midfield man. Struggled throughout and eventually substituted. 5
· Sedgwick: Lacked his usual enthusiasm for the ball and struggled to make any real impact. His final ball was especially poor. 6
· Byfield: Some fine touches early on, work rate questionable, faded in second period after missing good opportunity to score. 6
· Lee: Another good game, lacked any real quality service from midfield but ran his legs off. Had the game’s best opportunity to score but final shot awful. Still our best outfield performer. 7
· Robins: Did well when coming on in the second half, might have scored on a couple of occasions. Perhaps an earlier introduction might have won us the match. 7
· Monkhouse: performed well after coming on in the second period. Final ball was generally poor but might expect to start against Stoke in our next game. 7
· Mullin: Team had much more drive when Mullin came on, another player that ought to have started the game. 7
The views and opinions in this newsletter may not be the same as the Rotherham United Supporters Trust.
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