Millers on the up as New York brings in new belief

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SOMETHING brilliant is happening in Rotherham.

It may have been a while since anyone wrote that but it needs to be said.

New manager, fantastic new ground - everyone who’s been there agrees - and a chairman who dares to have ideas above his club’s perceived station.

Not since Ronnie Moore’s managerial heyday has Rotherham United had such a buzz about it.

Attendances have more than doubled - quadrupled for big games - with 11,000-plus for the first two home fixtures against Burton and Bradford.

Families are buying season tickets, teenagers are catching the Millers bug and old-stagers returning to their first football love.

Tony Stewart’s outrageously ambitious programme of development and growth is working beautifully thus far.

On a bitingly cold day back in May chairman Stewart showed The Star around the new concrete and fresh hope of the almost-finished stadium with typical brio.

“This”, he said, sweeping an authoratitive arm across the New York vista, “is a new beginning for the club and the town.”

There were those who questioned his ability to deliver the ground and a reconnection back to the town the club had been estranged from for four years at Don Valley.

Those who thought him a bit too ambitious, too brash in coming up with a name like the New York Stadium.

But they were wrong and he was right.

Fans who haven’t been to games for years are going back in their thousands, the North Stand - the old Tivoli swayers - makes more noise than it ever did at Milmoor in a new ground with sensational acoustics.

The team are playing exciting football - OK a league record of won, lost, drawn, won, lost, won isn’t going to have them quaking at the Etihad but three convincing wins at fortress New York has lit a fire.

The manager talks to the fans and the press and has that visible burning energy that supporters love to see on the touchline.

Of course there are still the doubters, the grey stubbled lads with meaty arms and all-paid-for beer bellies under their replica tops. Hard-bitten hardmen who wonder if the substance will live up to the image.

But they are being won over. And it’s not just the football club that’s looking at a new dawn.

A man who knows Rotherham better than it knows itself reckons there’s just a hint of an upswing in the town centre shops with independent and interesting stores opening in side streets and on corners.

The town on Saturday lunchtimes is throbbing with red and white.

Supporters massed outside every pub and with less than a five minute walk to the ground they can stay there until 2.45 and not miss kick-off.

There’s a pride in the new stadium being felt and growing across a town that has struggled more than most in the post-Meadowhall world of recession and job losses.

Kids are buying Ben Pringle and Kayode Odejayi shirts, United and Wednesday fans are going over on spare Saturdays to see what the fuss is about.

And, almost to a man or woman, they are impressed.

There’s a long way to go, there will be false dawns, disappointment and tears along the way but Rotherham United is a club on the move.

Something brilliant is happening in Rotherham, who knows where it might lead?