If Rotherham are looking for a good omen that Saturday may finally see them end their winless run then they need look no further than the equivalent weekend of the 2004-05 season.
Leeds’ visit to Millmoor in late November 2004 was one of the most famous nights of Ronnie Moore’s first spell in charge of the Millers and it bears a whole host of worrying similarities to this season.
Here’s a look at what happened on that memorable night 12 years ago.
Three years of over-achieving in a division full of former Premier League heavyweights was finally beginning to catch up with Rotherham, as the team that had led the club from the bottom division was growing old and there was no significant investment to improve it. With Moore no longer performing at the peak of his earlier powers, the Millers endured a torrid start to the season and were winless in their opening 20 games. They sat on nine points and were 11 adrift from safety. Sound familiar?
Leeds had just come down from the Premier League and were struggling to adapt to life in the Championship, with Kevin Blackwell’s side in 19th position as they came to Millmoor for a first league fixture against the Millers since 1982.
Under the lights and in front of the Sky cameras, a 13th defeat of the season could have been sewn up in the first 20 minutes as Leeds inexplicably hit the woodwork four times while Michael Ricketts kicked at fresh air when he was just three yards out early in the second half. The longer it went on, the bigger the sinking feeling Leeds fans must have endured and their worst fears came true with 13 minutes remaining as from a set-play, the only way Rotherham were looking threatening that season, Martin McIntosh rammed home from close range to put the hosts in front. Somehow, nerves jangling, they managed to see it out and held on for a famous win – the last in a remarkable list over a three-year period.
What they said
Ronnie Moore: “Blackwell came in afterwards and said, ‘I wish you’d stop telling everyone how much money I am spending!’. He threw a right paddy, I just said to him, ‘What do you want me to say?’. But that’s what we were always up against, so although we weren’t having the best time of it, to beat Leeds was fantastic and another great night for us.”
Kevin Blackwell: “Can you believe it? We should have had it done and dusted inside the first 10 minutes. We dominated from start to finish and if that had been in the real world then Rotherham would have been reported for mugging. How frustrating is it to be a manager? This is a big blow on the chin for me, but I’ve got to take it.”
What happened next
Unfortunately breaking the duck was not the catalyst for a great escape as Moore left just eight weeks later with the club still marooned at the bottom of the league. There was the odd moment to cheer, but relegation back to League One was confirmed in April, with a then-record divisional low points tally of 29.
Leeds barely improved and managed a 14th-placed finish, ending the season with a 0-0 draw against the Millers at Elland Road.
|Date played||29 November||25 November|
|Coverage||On Sky, 7.45pm||On Sky, 5.30pm|
|Rotherham wins before game||0||1|
|Rotherham points before game||8||7|
|Rotherham winless streak before game||20||13|
|Years of struggle in Championship||4th season||3rd season|
|Managerial status||Ronnie Moore - Fended off reported interested from Gazza and Bryan Robson a month previously||Kenny Jackett - Picking up pieces of Alan Stubbs debacle|