ROTHERHAM United followers waved a fond farewell to Don Valley Stadium at the weekend although perhaps there wasn’t a great deal of fondness in it. More good riddance.
It has been very hard these past four years to find many Millers fans with much of a good word for their temporary home although, right at the end, they grudgingly acknowledged the invaluable part it has played in their club’s history and subsequent progress after the problems that forced them to leave Millmoor.
But, even before a ball had been kicked, there were those who wouldn’t be at Don Valley. Why? It was in Sheffield!
I well remember on the Saturday morning of the first game there in 2008 I bumped into a couple of Millers fans in a supermarket.
One was going that afternoon (and would continue to go), the other wasn’t and wouldn’t be.
Yes, he’d always been a Millers fan but he wasn’t going to Don Valley, although he would still go to some away games.
He wasn’t the only one. You could find plenty and I have done - including those who have never been to DVS, or perhaps on the odd occasion, but are having season tickets at the New York Stadium.
For fans moving from a traditional old football ground (Millmoor) it was a shock. This was an athletics stadium and, quite simply. they were too far away from the pitch to get ‘involved’ with the game.
‘There’s no atmosphere,’ was a major gripe - although not an accusation levelled on the noisy play-off night when they beat Aldershot to reach Wembley or when knocking Southampton and Wolves out of the Carling Cup.
Then there was that infernal wind which could spoil the best-laid plans.
And anyone who says it doesn’t affect games hasn’t had our wind-blasted experience of the last four years. In fact, the very first goal there by Reuben Reid came when the bit of decisive extra “carry” from a wind-aided ball deceived a Lincoln defender.
Then there was the cold. At the very first game of all, a pre-season friendly, the sun went in at half-time, cloud dropped. a wind blew in and, with 25 minutes left, people were going home because they were freezing. And this was mid-July!
Regulars learned to get well wrapped up and some more. But, last December, when the wind blew perishingly across the open tundra straight into the Main Stand, men were seen shivering.
The pitch, ruined by the U2 concert, can be laughed at now.
But the under-stand concourse wasn’t bad for a pre-match drink and we had the biggest press room in football - the indoor athletics arena!
But it’s been four long years at a place not made for watching football.
What a welcome contrast Millers supporters have coming up!