ROTHERHAM UNITED: Spotlight to fall on Millers old boy

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THERE will be a full house at New York Stadium for today’s big promotion clash with Port Vale and, while the destination of the points will be all-important, many inside will be looking with some interest at Tom Pope.

They will recall the striker and his form when he was with the Millers and be trying to equate it with the fact that he is currently top scorer in League Two and even being tipped for a big-money move.

Pope, now 27, has had a sensational first half of the season, having topped 20 goals in November and become the fastest to 20 goals in Vale’s history.

No wonder Millers fans look on with some incredulity. He managed only six in 62 appearances (okay, not all full ones) during his time - and not exactly a happy one - with the Millers.

Mark Robins signed him in 2009 from Crewe in a deal originally worth £150,000, which equalled the club record for a single player, though Rotherham did not end up paying all that as all the add-ons never materialised and he probably cost them just over half the amount.

No-one faulted Pope’s effort. He was certainly nothing less than an honest trier, but without much success although, and it may not have been pure coincidence, Adam Le Fondre seemed to score more when Pope was in the team than when anyone else played up front.

Ronnie Moore looked to offload him and did so on loan to Port Vale, Pope’s boyhood club in his native Potteries. Then, 18 months ago, Vale signed him permanently. Now, settled into family life with a baby and relishing being at ‘his’ club, Pope has certainly blossomed.

Millers fans, rather painfully, saw a leaner, fitter-looking Pope rub it in back in September when he scored four times in the 6-2 defeat of the Millers - the entire number of league goals he managed in red and white in more than 50 appearances.

His style and the way Vale operated under Micky Adams seemed to suit him.

Adams, in his second spell at Vale Park, has got them back to where they were when he left for Bramall Lane two years ago.

It is certainly a Christmas cracker, with Vale going well with a mix of qualities - the sort of physicality that Adams likes in his teams as denoted by the giants, McCombe and McDonald, at the back and the pace of Vincent and Myrie-Williams out wide.

It will not be an afternoon for the faint-hearted, particularly if Rotherham can recreate the sort of attacking they produced against leaders Gillingham.

With a full house, the atmosphere should be a bit special, comparable to that generated by 11,000-plus crowds for the opening home games against Burton and Bradford.