AFTER all the talk and all the words, it was now all about the action. Definitely. Except, no-one could stop talking about the day and the whole occasion - for it WAS an occasion and well worth the experience.
Yes, a dream start and then a three-goal winning margin rounded everything off perfectly. But after a summer, and way back past that (four years perhaps?), of non-stop talking about the new ground, people were still talking about the New York Stadium and savouring a really memorable day in Rotherham United’s history long into Saturday night and beyond.
And so they should. Really, it was the fans’ day. Particularly the loyal Millers faithful who have followed them through thick, thin and what many regarded as the essential purgatory of watching from afar at Don Valley, unconnected with their team.
Here, in their new home, they are most definitely connected. Plenty had experienced it in pre-season but, for many, this really was the proper start - the first league game.
They had to be there - and so did many others. Family, friends, supporters who hadn’t been for years (and plenty who never even set foot in DVS) all wanted a part of the first league game experience.
After all, you only do first time once!
Crikey, how many did you see with the missus holding tightly on to the old man’s arm? “I’ll take you to New York, Luv.” And, know what, not one Millers follower would have swapped Saturday for the real thing!
The town itself has been re-connected too. The town centre has been transformed on a matchday, buzzing and busy with pubs and shops doing a roaring trade, and then the fans flock down in their droves, red and white shirts everywhere.
The atmosphere outside and inside was special. Outside people mingled, chatted excitedly as this new playing era was about to unfold and first-timers couldn’t wait to see what all the fuss was about.
Everybody had hoped to see and experience a full stadium one day. We haven’t had to wait long.
As the sun began to shine through, it was a colourful sight and great to see the stands packed.
It was virtually a carnival mood. We even had the Royal Scots Guard Band of pipes and drums playing and parading round the pitch before kick-off.
The feelgood factor was cascading down from the stands. A pre-match “C’mon on, yooo reds’’ boomed around the stadium just to confirm that the place generates quite an atmosphere.
Chairman Tony Stewart, up on high, surveyed it all like some latter-day emperor. The thumb would most definitely have been up!
It was all set up perfectly. All that was needed now was the hard part. Winning that first game.
No-one could have dreamed of the start we would get - two goals in the first 10 minutes. The place was bouncing.
Daniel Nardiello won the penalty which he then calmly rolled home after just five minutes. Then Kayode Odejayi placed his header perfectly after Ben Pringle’s shot deflected towards him following a Kari Arnason long throw.
Millers fans were in dreamland. The stadium’s first “Easy, easy” chant reverberated around the ground. Except there was pretty soon to be an early reminder that League Two matters never are that easy and that any road to success is never straightforward.
Despite their disastrous start, Burton didn’t look overawed. Yussuf’s disallowed ‘offside’ goal, in between Rotherham’s two goals, was just a little suggestion they may have something in their locker. They had.
Rotherham hadn’t previously started with this starting line-up which had Mullins at right-back and Arnason (who played at the back in Iceland’s 2-0 midweek win over the Faeroes) in centre defence while O’Connor came into midfield.
So if the understanding in various areas wasn’t spot on at times then it was both obvious and understandable. Burton, hurrying the Millers then attacking briskly and with width and with frontman Kee troublesome, enjoyed the better of the final 25 minutes of the half.
A couple of last-ditch challenges (O’Connor and Mullins) rescued Rotherham; Yussuf was inches wide and Shearer saved from Kee.
Yes, Odejayi headed over from close range from a Nardiello set-up but Rotherham’s great start, and the mood, had just been tempered by half-time by Burton’s brave, committed response.
Rotherham were handling things better by the time midfielder Lee Bell committed a silly challenge on Noble for his second booking in three minutes and the visitors were down to 10 men with half an hour left.
They bravely went to 3-4-2 but it was now a case of what would Rotherham’s winning margin be as they looked to expose the gaps.
O’Connor was denied, so too Odejayi although he should have set up Nardiello for a tap-in.
The third goal on 75 minutes confirmed the result, Pringle’s effort taking a deflection to loop beyond Atkins.
The keeper was to superbly deny Nardiello and sub Revell while left-back Wilson fired narrowly over at the end just after Steve Evans had done his touchline ‘keepy-uppy’ before bowing to the cheering North end.
Then again the whole day should take a bow. First-timers or loyal fans, young or old, it was one to savour.