THEY came. They saw. They concurred.
After hearing about it and reading about it along with all the attendant hype, they at last got chance to clap eyes on it.
It was love at first sight.
The past (and I doff my old flat cap to it) is the past and we’ll always have the memories but here is the future in the wonderful New York Stadium and you won’t find a soul amongst the Millers fans at the ‘full-house’ restricted 6,000 capacity at this opening game who doesn’t want to embrace it. Again and again.
After four long and difficult years, the loyal fans have a stadium to be proud of. And more than a stadium. It’s an illusion.
Four years ago, the majority thought talk of a new ground back in Rotherham was just an illusion.
Now it’s here and open, it IS an illusion. It looks bigger than it actually is. For a start, drive in or out of town on the dual carriageway past the impressive frontage and you’ve no problem passing it off as a 25,000 capacity ground.
Get inside and, somehow, the ‘feel’ is of more than the 12,000 seater it is. It seems bigger. Don’t ask me how. Somehow, it seems intimate and close yet spacious and open.
There was no doubting the reaction of Millers fans once inside. They were blown away.
After dear old Millmoor - its spanking new replacement poignantly overlooks it a few hundred yards away - and long-distance Don Valley, fans luxuriated in the new matchday ‘feel’ and experience of their new ground and a club now confirmed in the 21st century.
On an appropriately bright and sunny day, the first sunny Saturday afternoon since May 26 (trust me, I’ve been taking note), beaming fans congregated beforehand and admitted they had longed for this day.
It was easy to find hardened old followers admitting, yes, they were emotional. Hey, I’m not embarrassed to admit that as I drove down and crested Coronation Bridge with Millmoor alongside it and the wonderful new replacement visible beyond, I had a tug in the throat.
The fans were excited too. Take old Ken Millns, 67 years a supporter... “I’ve been like a kid waiting for Christmas Day.”
The reaction from people once inside? Too many ‘fantastics’ and ‘brilliants’ to count. Some even looked a bit awe-struck as if they couldn’t quite believe that THEIR club had got something this good.
The atmosphere was buzzing before, during and after. The club shop did a roaring trade, great to see although could someone please, please, please remove that dreadful apostrophe in the word Millers above the club shop entrance. And sack the sign writer while they’re at it!
Yes, everything isn’t right or completed yet and a late glitch meant the turnstiles weren’t opened until just before 2 o’clock but no one complained, only enjoyed it all.
No one was entitled to do so more than Tony Stewart. He breezed in early, cigar in situ, not longer after 10.30am and if he’d a few bottles of bubbly in the boot then who could blame him? It was a very, very special day for him.
The crowd rose as one to give the chairman a standing ovation when he went on the pitch before the game to address them.
“We left Millmoor; went to Don Valley and we’ve come back - and what a comeback,” he said to roars of acclaim.
He gave out thanks... to the board, the backroom staff, the Council (“who had played their part”) and construction company GMI - “the guys who put this together and the job they’ve done.”
He reiterated the new era, a great opportunity and where the club wants to go. Onwards and upwards.
For sure, Millers fans will start spread’n the news. And it’s good!