ROTHERHAM UNITED: Signing record is there to be broken

Top buy: Alan Lee proved a brilliant signing for the Millers and a bargain buy all told.
Top buy: Alan Lee proved a brilliant signing for the Millers and a bargain buy all told.
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WHEN he set out on his Summer recruitment spree, Rotherham United manager Steve Evans indicated that he was ready, willing and able to break the club’s transfer record.

He wasn’t specifically setting out to do so although chairman Tony Stewart was giving him full support on the financial front. It was more a case of doing so should the opportunity arise.

But Evans, probably with at least one specific target in sight, reckoned it might well come down to it.

One candidate who did fit the bill, striker Matt Tubbs, didn’t materialise but Evans could well have possibilities elsewhere as he looks to add to his seven signings so far.

In these days of multi-million pound transfers, the fee that Evans would have to top to make someone Rotherham united’s most expensive player, looks pretty small beer.

The Millers record outlay is £150,000 - and there are six players who stand together at the top of that list.

The first one was mercurial winger Tony Towner although - just to confuse matters a touch - he arrived as part of a double deal which, reportedly, cost the club £165,000 although some reports did have it at £180,000 in all.

Towner arrived from Millwall in the Summer 1980 at a time when the club’s relatively new chairman and owner, Essex businessman Anton Johnson was embarking on a spending spree although it was largely from money left in the club by the previous owners, the Purshouse family.

Towner came in along with fellow Millwall player John Seasman who was regarded as a makeweight in the deal at just £15,000. Towner was the £150,000 man.

It was 16 years before Rotherham equalled that figure, paying £150,000 to Port Vale in 1996 for one-time Forest striker Lee Glover. He helped get the club out of the old Fourth Division.

The third one, striker Alan Lee, proved the best of the lot.

Plucked from Burnley reserves in 2000, he was raw but developed into a fearsome, physical centre forward who led the front line in successive promotions, scoring a last minute winner at Millmoor to clinch promotion the The Championship in 2001.

Early the following season, Rotherham shelled out another £150,000 to Burnley, this time for hard-working midfielder John Mullin.

Striker Lee was sold to Cardiff for around £900,000 in September 2003 and his replacement, Martin Butler from Reading, arrived the same month and was the fourth £150,000 man.

The final one with a £150,000 tag was Tom Pope and, like Glover, was from Port Vale.

He arrived three years ago but the fee included various add-ons and it is thought Rotherham never had to pay it all.