No professional football player wants a relegation on their CV. It’s not a nice thing to be associated with.
Sadly, Rotherham United’s relegation from the Championship was confirmed after defeat by Fulham last Saturday. To see the Millers’ name in red at the foot of the league table hurts.
I am confident the team will perform well in League One next season. Rotherham are on a sound financial footing, training-ground plans are being implemented and everything is structured for the club to move forward after the setback of this season.
In contrast is my former club, Coventry City.
I was part of the club’s demise in 2012 as they were relegated to League One. The Sky Blues have had a tough few years since they lost their Championship status so I was delighted to see them win at Wembley on Sunday in front of 43,000 City supporters.
I have also faced another relegation, which was right at the start of my professional career. I had completely different emotions to that of 2012 and this season.
I remember having a smile on my face. I was so happy!
These feelings might seem a little strange, but let me explain.
On the April 21 2003, Sheffield Wednesday were relegated from Division One (now the Championship) after a 1-1 draw with Brighton at the Withdean Stadium. This was obviously hugely disappointing for the club but this was a day that I’ll always remember.
I made my professional debut that afternoon, replacing Ashley Westwood in the 84th minute.
It was a dream come true.
All those hours on the training ground, all my efforts and dedication to football, had paid off.
The dressing room after the game wasn’t a good place to be. I remember the players were devastated. I, however, was stood to the side, I think near the entrance, trying to hide my joy. I wasn’t happy we had just gone down, but being just 17 years old and making my debut did take a slight edge off it.
The club going down at that time, with hindsight, actually helped my career. If the club had stayed up then I might not have got a chance in the first team so young. It’s strange how relegation sort of defined the start of my journey as a professional footballer.
The following Saturday, after relegation was confirmed, I made my full professional league debut and scored in a 7-2 win over Burnley at Turf Moor.
The headlines in the papers the following day were ‘Wood you believe it?’. I remember it plain as day.