Confirmation wasn’t needed but, if it was, 20,000 Rotherham United fans will happily provide it - and no doubt have been doing this week. Many in the game say that the best way to get promoted is via the Play-off Final at Wembley. Given the choice, most people in football, if not all, would go up that way.
Well, all connected with the Millers decided last Sunday, some time after half past five, that it definitely is the best way to do it. But you can’t pick and choose. Everybody has to go through the mill first.
Suffering the nerves and the tension associated with the Play-offs are all part of it. Days are spent dreaming of what might be. All that anticipation and you dare to hope. Throughout the build-up, everyone outside the club talks about promotion. Pressure builds. Then the day arrives and, as you walk down Wembley Way, your eyes are scanning everywhere looking for a familiar face; perhaps alighting on one that you’ve not seen for years. Then you get moments like Alex Revell’s equaliser, surely a candidate for any shortlist for best goal at the new Wembley.
The stories from fans about the mad reaction to it will run and run. Complete strangers embracing (that’s only the men!); women hugging blokes they’d never seen before; people falling over seats; ecstatic fans running up and down gangways; others lifted in the air. A few mobiles got lost too!
It’s a moment that Millers fans will recall forever and place alongside the Alan Lee last-minute-winner moment when the club’s previous back-to-back promotion was clinched in 2001. And then there was the penalty shoot-out to come and its successful conclusion. More bedlam!
I suspect that this Wembley success will go down as the greatest day in Rotherham United’s history. That’s probably how it deserves to be remembered (or should that be ‘branded’?) in the years ahead although some may well plump for the day they returned home to the New York Stadium.
They’ve had three previous promotions to the game’s second tier, 1951, 1981 and 2001. But because of the setting, the occasion, the winning at Wembley and the actual celebration that followed, I think this may be destined to be recalled as their finest hour.
“It was a great day” has been said thousands of times. Of course it was. Winning at Wembley turns it into a great day regardless. With wonderful memories destined to linger for a very long time.