A very belated post I know. There are good reasons for the delay, but at present I have not made the excuse up.
Anyway, this game was 24 hours after the Spennymoor v Darlington game. It was appropriate as back in 2000, Darlington missed out on promotion after losing in the promotion play off to Peterborough. The other 2 sides promoted that season from what is now League 2 were Swansea City and Rotherham. It is interesting to see what has happened to those clubs in the intervening years.
Swansea narrowly avoided bankruptcy and going out of the league and are rejuvenated in a new ground and in the Premiership and won the League Cup this season. They are having the most successful season in their club’s history.
Peterborough have oscillated between the Championship and League 2, but at the time of writing are still in the Championship.
Rotherham have also oscillated between the Championship and League 2, have been into administration more than once, and been forced to play home games in Sheffield. They now have a brand new stadium in Rotherham, hence my visit there. Rotherham have been into administration at least twice in that time.
Darlington however appear not to have seen any ups in those 13 years. The best they have managed was a very unlucky play off defeat in 2008, when they lost on penalties after a brave struggle with Rochdale. Darlington struggled to get 11 players out for the 2nd leg game. The players did the club proud in the circumstances. Darlington have been into administration 3 times in this period and are now playing at Level 9, some 8 levels below Swansea, 7 levels below Peterborough and 5 below Rotherham. It is amazing how the fortunes of clubs that were so close that season have varied.
Anyway, back to the trip to Rotherham. I decided to visit as they are playing in a new ground, The New York Stadium which was built by the council on a brown field site in the town. I stayed in Sheffield the night with my son who is a student there and his Godfather who came up from Cardiff for the weekend. No, not Marlon Brando, although there is a resemblance some may say.
Arriving at Sheffield railway station for the train to Rotherham, we were greeted by numerous police officers on the platform surrounding the 2013 version of the infamous Chesterfield Bastard Squad. I have to say they were an embarrassment to the name. If they were anyone over 18 I’d be surprised. They couldn’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag, but they thought they looked the part. They did, if the part is to look like a geek.
They made themselves look silly when they got off the train in Rotherham and waited for the police to escort them to the pub whilst chanting about what they would do to Rotherham fans. Its hard to be brave behind lots of police isn’t it?
The three of us decamped into Wetherspoons for a bit of light refreshment before wandering over to the ground. The real ale in Wetherspoons had a familiar name.
I thought Double Maxim had died when the Vaux Brewery Closed. Wishful thinking?
This is another of those modern concrete grounds that looks as if it comes from IKEA. It is functionally very good, with plenty of leg room in the seats, not a bad view in the ground etc.
It might be the New York Stadium, but there are no Giants playing there!
The family stand seems to have been named knowing Tom & I were coming
Anyway, into the ground and the first thing is that all the stands were not identical. They do provide a great ground for a League Two club.
The game itself was a frenetic local derby which was eventually won 1-0 by Rotherham. The atmosphere was great for a League 2 game.
So, you may think that it was all positive at the game? Well, there was one thing that surprised me, the catering outlets all shut at the end of half time. They are surely missing a trick there. Think of the extra income they could gain by actually selling food & drink.
After the game, ok during the 2nd half, we left the ground and headed back to Wetherspoons for a quick pint of 3. As we left Wetherspoons to go to the railway station, there appeared to have been an incident outside. The police were trying to separate fans, directing Rotherham fans back to the bars and Chesterfield fans to the railway station. They were bemused when they asked us “Rotherham or Chesterfield lads?” and got the replies “Newcastle United”, “Leyton Orient” and “Fulham”. They were even more bemused after we got to the station and then walked back through the police lines to the pub again. Well we had 30 minutes to wait for a train, so time for another pint.
So, game over, drink on board, it was time to head back to Sheffield and meet up with Matt & Lynn from Barnsley for a few beers. Tom decided to order food for us all in the pub. So, I let him… more fool me. This is what I got
Was he trying to tell me something?