Richie Smallwood has headed off back to Teesside clutching his League One Play-off winners medal with Rotherham United followers hoping they haven’t seen the last of him.
That contrasts with some views when he arrived in January on loan from Middlesbrough and kept out fans’ favourite Michael O’Connor.
Smallwood had to win them over. He did and how.
The 23-year-old midfielder barely knew what it was to be on the losing side. After his debut in mid-January, the Millers went 16 games without defeat and he became an integral part of the team.
He was the understated performer, quietly but effectively going about his business. Others were more demonstrative, made bigger, flashier statements. Smallwood was the perfect foil and the nature of his game made him the ideal team man.
His teammates respected the role he had within the team. So often, it is about balance and with his eye for small detail, for spotting danger and nipping it in the bud, for doing the unfashionable stuff well, Smallwood provided it. Others flourished whilst he got on with his job with the minimum of fuss.
But he can play too and his pass for one of Tom Hitchcock’s hat-trick goals at Gillingham was one of the passes of the season.
Middlesbrough have taken up the year’s option on his contract. He’ll probably want to try and make a mark there but he’d be welcomed back in Rotherham.
Meanwhile the Millers will have trip to Scotland.
The games, all July, are: 12 Morton (3); 18 Falkirk (7.30); 19: Livingston (A) (3); 20 Queen of the South (3).
Other July games include 23 Forest (H); 26 Tamworth (A); 27 Alfreton (A). Aug 2: Doncaster Rovs (A); Aug 5 Leicester (H)
They also send a side to Stocksbridge on July 30.