A Wembley final can hardly be termed “just another game” but Rotherham United’s preparation will be exactly same as for all their other away games this season.
Manager Steve Evans insists that they will not be changing from their usual routine despite it being the League One Play-off Final and they will leave the day before the game.
Meanwhile, his assistant, Paul Raynor, knows from bitter experience how teams can be affected when they make totally different arrangements and how it can upset their focus.
Raynor was in the Preston team which reached the League Two Play-off Final in 1994 - in fact, he scored the winning goal late extra time to send them there in what was the final game on the old ‘plastic’ pitch at Deepdale.
“First of all, it seemed we had lost our chance because we were 2-0 down after the first leg at Torquay and our manager, John Beck, told us we’d no chance after what he’d seen in the first leg and that he’d gone and booked his holidays starting the weekend of the final,” he said.
“David Moyes, who was our captain, threw Beck out of the dressing room and, psychologically, we were fired up by that - and it was only later that we found out it was all a set-up,” said Raynor.
“But when we got to the final we ended up playing the occasion. Our opponents, Wycombe, treated it like any other game.
“They didn’t have an overnight, they had the usual pre-match meal and turned up in their club tracksuits.
“We went down to London for four days. We went to a show, went to Wembley the day before to look round, had the new suits, the lot.
“The focus was on everything but the game and, on the day, we never really turned up.
“For us here, going into our Play-off Final, we have to make sure we are focused and ready.”
Rotherham’s preparation for Sunday’s final against Leyton Orient will be the same as for all away games and they will be leaving the ground the day before to travel to London for an overnight stay.
The only difference is that boss Steve Evans is asking Millers fans to go to New York Stadium at two o’clock on Saturday to give the players a rousing send-off.
“I hope as many supporters as possible can come down on Saturday and there will be no better way to send the players on their way,” said Evans.
“Our support has been fantastic all season, both vocally and in numbers, and I’m sure the fans will turn out in force. It was the best atmosphere yet at New York Stadium and a lot of people thought the same. On behalf of the players, the staff and everyone, I’d like to thank our fans for their support this season.”
The Millers players were given time off after Thursday’s second-leg win over Preston and they are back in training today.
They had no additional injury worries from that game.
The club have an allocation of just over 25,000 for next Sunday’s game (3pm kick-off) and they are going extremely well. Millers Mayday members get their opportunity to buy tickets today and general sale starts tomorrow.