Millers memories: Games to remember against Bristol Rovers

There have been worse debuts for Rotherham than Jeff Minton’s (Claude Davis anyone?).

The midfielder made his bow against Bristol Rovers in 2001, with the Millers chasing promotion to the then Division One.

Minton had arrived on loan from Port Vale after a serious injury to Darren Garner and niggling problems for Stewart Talbot and he was thrown in against Rovers.

And what an impact he made, with two second-half goals to help Ronnie Moore’s side to a 3-0 win, with Richie Barker also scoring his first goal in a red and white shirt.


Minton would have had difficulty getting better than that, and from an individual point of view, it was where he peaked.

But he still played a part in the run-in to one of the most famous seasons in the club’s history as the Millers went on to win a second successive promotion.

As reminders to never try and defeat the weather gods go, Rotherham were served a pretty big one in 2013.

With the UK in the midst of a winter blast of arctic conditions, so keen were the Millers to get their game with Rovers on at their then still-sparkling New York Stadium, they commandeered willing supporters to clear the pitch and surrounding areas on the morning before kick-off.

They shouldn’t have bothered.


Despite the effort of hundreds of shivering fans, Rotherham put in one of their most abject displays of the Steve Evans era and fell to a 3-1 defeat against a team propping up the entire Football League.

So back to Claude Davis. If Minton’s debut was dream stuff, the giant defender’s was real nightmare territory.

On his first appearance following his January transfer window move from Crawley, Davis didn’t make a great impression when he gave a penalty away just before half-time, which Lee Brown converted.


Before that 45-minute whistle came, though, Davis managed to pick up a second yellow card, meaning his bow was over before the half-time oranges.

Ellis Harrison’s superb solo effort made it 2-0 and Joe Anyinsah drilled home a third before substitute David Noble grabbed a consolation.

It was a shocking afternoon for the Millers, reflected in a local newspaper report, which saw the journalist summoned to see boss Evans on the following Monday, with the boss unhappy at its content.

Not that he had any further to sink, but Davis improved and ended up leaving the club 18 months later with two promotion medals.

Fans still remember their wasted efforts, though, and might not be so forthcoming with their snow shovels next time.

If you thought watching Rotherham last season was bad, we only have to cast our eye over Bristol Rovers’ visit to Millmoor in 1996 to see how bad things can really get.

The Millers were in the early part of one of their worst ever campaigns when Rovers came to play Danny Bergara’s side.

And that was a team that lined up with some truly stellar names, with the teamsheet reading: Cherry, Breckin, Monington, Gayle, Roscoe, Sandeman, Dobbin, Crawford, Hayward, Druce, McGlashan.

With the greatest respect to those guys, hardly the most talented side to wear the red and white.

Ironically, a 0-0 draw that September night shortly after Bergara’s appointment turned out to be one of their better results that season.



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