Much will be made in the build-up to Rotherham United’s League One play-off semi-final of the losing record of their opponents Preston North End in the end-of-season lottery.
They have lost all eight they have been in and the losing record will be extended for one or the other because the Millers haven’t won any of the three they have been involved in either.
A contributor to their defeat in the first one was current assistant manager Paul Raynor.
This was in 1988, a year after the play-offs were introduced by the Football League. The format then was a team from a higher division together with three from the division below.
Rotherham had finished fourth bottom in what’s now League One, one place above the then three automatic relegation places.
They met the sixth-placed finisher of the division below who were Swansea.
Paul Raynor played in both legs. Rotherham lost 1-0 at their old Vetch Field ground with the second leg at Millmoor being a 1-1 draw.
Raynor went on to score in the two-legged final victory over Torquay United, netting in the 3-3 second-leg draw at Plainmoor after earlier winning 2-1.
By the time of Rotherham’s next experience of the play-offs, the format was purely about clubs from the same division.
By coincidence Swansea and another club who were in that 1988 play-off, Scunthorpe, were also in this next one in 1999 at the end of Ronnie Moore’s second season in charge in what’s now League Two. However, they played neither. Their semi-final opponents were Leyton Orient.
It finished goalless at Brisbane Road and the same again after a tedious two hours at Millmoor - and in the penalty shoot-out Rotherham lost it 4-2. Orient then lost to Scunthorpe in the final.
The other play-off was 2010 in League Two. The Millers won both semi-final legs against Aldershot, 1-0 away and then 2-0 at Don Valley Stadium but were beaten in the Wembley Final, going down 3-2 to Dagenham.
Four of Preston’s most recent defeats have all been in The Championship play-offs, all since 2000.
Rotherham’s allocation of 2,103 tickets for the away leg on Saturday (5.15pm) went on sale to season-ticket-holders yesterday. The first fans began queuing just after midnight and the club expect to sell the full allocation as well as sell out New York Stadium for the home leg a week on Thursday. Tickets for that go on general sale tomorrow morning.