There were six of them in all, every one of them warming the hearts of the Rotherham United faithful who had turned out to watch their team’s first pre-season friendly.
No, not goals, although actually there were half a dozen of those as well as the Millers turned on the style against humble Parkgate FC who ply their trade in the Northern Counties East League.
I’m talking new boys, the players Rotherham manager Steve Evans has brought in so far this summer as he looks to build on last season’s Championship survival and turn the club into a solid, midtable second-tier proposition.
Emmanuel Ledesma, Aidy White and Tom Thorpe all began the game and showed up well, while Joe Mattock, Danny Collins and Greg Halford came on and looked equally adept as Rotherham changed their entire starting 11 at half-time.
There was also a second-half run-out for 20-year-old Spurs midfielder Grant Ward, who is training with the Millers, and the youngster caught the eye with his athleticism and a thumping finish for one of the goals.
Only Lewis Buxton of the recent arrivals was missing.
Parkgate battled gamely but were reduced to 10 men in the 15th minute when Ben Langford was sent off for handball in the build-up to the Millers’ second goal, a penalty converted by Paul Green.
Rotherham No 2 Paul Raynor asked referee Dean Bradshaw to show some clemency and allow the Steelmen’s No 7 to remain on the pitch, but, to the tuts of a bumper crowd, the official refused to bend the rules.
The Millers could have reached double figures, but settled for a Ledesma opener, Green’s spot-kick, Grant Ward’s piledriver, a cool Danny Ward finish an own goal by Parkgate keeper David Reay and a lovely volley from Jerry Yates.
Rotherham use Parkgate’s Rouandwood complex as their training base, and very grateful they are to the non-league outfit too. The encounter has become an annual fixture, with the pro boys happy to help the Steelmen, and hundreds of fans turned up happy to pay £6 for an adult ticket.
The evening air was cool after heavy rain, but the potential on show, following Evans’ recruitment, was enough to have temperatures rising as supporters’ thoughts turned to what might be to come when the action begins for real on August 8 against MK Dons.
Among the interested observers was new first-team coach Eric Black who took his place on the Millers bench with Evans, Raynor and fitness coach Paul Warne.
Tougher tests await, but last night was fine for starters.
Former Scottish international Black, meanwhile, is an experienced coach who has worked with a string of clubs, including Celtic, Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers and Sunderland, and also had spells in charge at Coventry City and Motherwell.
He won the European Cup-winners Cup under Sir Alex Ferguson at Aberdeen and had most recently been coaching at Wigan Athletic.
“I became aware that there was a possibility that Eric might leave Wigan and I am delighted that we managed to put something together,” said boss Evans.
“Eric is a coach who arrives here with impeccable references given to me by the likes of Craig Brown, Steve Bruce and Gerard Houllier. He has a wealth of experience and knowledge as a coach from a career spanning over 20 years and he will have a major part to play at Rotherham United.
“His CV as a player and a coach is of the highest quality and he is someone I have known and respected for almost 25 years.
“Paul Raynor and Eric are already very much working in tandem, and the lads have already stated they are delighted with how the backroom team is now working.
“Eric has brought a new voice to the training ground, and we will benefit greatly from his expertise as we look to build on our success of the last three years.”
Physio Mike Preston has returned to the Millers as Head of Medical to replace the retired Denis Circuit. Preston rejoins after a spell at Leyton Orient, having served the club previously as youth-team physio.
Rotherham United (first half): Collin, Richardson, Wood, Thorpe, Warren, Smallwood, Green, Ledesma, White, Bowery, Clarke-Harris.
Rotherham United (second half): Loach, Dickinson, Collins, Peace-McDonald, Mattock, Yates, G Ward, Frecklington, Bailey-King, D Ward, Halford.