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BLIND, STUPID AND DESPERATE
 
Articles:
There's something about Millmoor
By Dan York
 
It could be that the ground that fits so neatly into its industrial surroundings, or it could the genuine welcome and cheap beer that is on offer in many of the local hostelries (accompanied by a round of 'take the piss out of the soft Southerners', of course). But for me, the highlight of a trip to Rotherham and Millmoor is the sausage rolls on offer at the tea bar. A revelation on my first visit, Millmoor sausage rolls are to football ground cuisine what Belle and Sebastian are to the album charts - a ray of hope amongst processed, half-baked, over-priced rubbish. Although, much like B&S records, nothing has ever quite matched that glorious first time. Still on every subsequent visit they remained a highlight, sometimes the only highlight. And I suspect that there was a reason that when the Millers faithful wanted to express their disgust at Luca's touchline shenanigans a few years ago, it was a mere meat and potato pie that was sacrificed.

Rotherham went down last year, of course, and having carried their woeful record in front of goal into Division Two this season, they are in grave danger of dropping into the basement. My chances of experiencing a Millmoor sausage roll in the near future are, sadly, slim. But they could disappear altogether, as the Millers announced last week that they were losing 140,000 per month and could go out of business in a matter of weeks. They are on the edge - administration is an unlikely prospect due to a lack of assets and resources, so the club could go immediately into liquidation. Rotherham United would be no more.

Having survived the ITV Digital debacle relatively unscathed (while some clubs spent money they didn't yet have on a bunch of disinterested, injury-prone prima-donnas (ahem), the Millers continued to hold their own in Division Two) relegation to the third tier, and the sale of the club a year ago by long-time owner Ken Booth, have left them in their current predicament. The new board's business plan has been found wanting (sound familiar?), mainly due to the expected numbers not coming through the turnstiles this season.

Rotherham don't deserve to go under. They didn't blow a small fortune on a high-profile manager and some lumbering centre-halves, only to finish in lower mid-table in Division Two. They didn't get themselves in such a pickle with players bought on a lease arrangement that they are still paying the wages of a striker who left several years ago. They can't dip into administration, escape their debts, and then carry on in a brand new stadium as if nothing had happened. They did compete in a division above their 'natural level' for a number of years, and now are paying the price for such lofty ambitions. They are losing 140,000 each month. Joey Barton did just turn down a contract offer from Manchester City that would have seen him earning approximately, er, 140,000 per month. Such is professional football in England in 2006.

You will remember what it was like when our club was at crisis-point, and how we welcomed the support of other supporters who had been through their own near-liquidation experience (and several who hadn't). Now we can return the favour for Rotherham, because football needs them, their supporters need them, and I need another chance to sample those sausage rolls. You can donate through the Rotherham United Supporters' Trust (www.rufctrust.co.uk), or send them 5 by texting MILLERS to 84131.

(16/02/06)