Rotherham’s prickly history with MK Dons heightened by a managerial fall-out

You wouldn’t think that Rotherham and MK Dons – a club only 13 years old – would share such an antagonistic history.

Most of it is perhaps to do with plenty of battles at the same end of their respective divisions over that time.

Notably there was the final-day relegation decider in 2006, where a 0-0 draw kept the Millers up in League One and sent the Dons down, and 10 years later the Neil Warnock inspired 4-0 win for Rotherham which effectively sealed their Championship safety at the expense of the Milton Keynes club.


There was also the 2008 drama, of course, when rising Millers star Stephen Brogan – tipped for the top – had his professional career ruined by a horrible leg break after a poor tackle from Willy Gueret.

And then there was the time the respective managerial teams’ dislike for each other spilled over during a League One game in 2014.

The ill-feeling was born out of comments made by Richie Barker when he took over as manager at Crawley, suggesting Steve Evans had left the club in a mess when he departed to join Rotherham.

Evans was fiercely proud of his record at Crawley, and rightly so, and couldn’t pass on the chance to get his own back when the Dons made their first trip to the AESSEAL New York Stadium.

The Millers, in their final home outing of the regular 2013-14 season, had already booked their play-off spot and came from 2-0 down in the final 11 minutes to draw 2-2. It was a comeback that epitomised a brilliant season, but then also a post-match interview that perhaps epitomised boss Evans.

Before press duties, though, there were words exchanged in the tunnel between Evans and the Dons’ managerial duo of Karl Robinson and Barker – who now presides in the home dugout as Paul Warne’s number two.

After the angry exchange – and possibly some handbags –¬†Evans then had his say in a bizarre post-match interview where the Scot accused Barker of getting personal and then, in retaliation, went personal.

Unprompted Evans went into classic attack mode, saying: “There were a few words said in the tunnel after the game with their management team where they reflected they don’t think we should be in the play-offs but they thought that at the start of the season as well.

MK Dons beat Rotherham 4-1 on the opening day of the 2015-16 season

“And their assistant manager Richie Barker said that I left them a shambles when he was manager of Crawley. Well I wonder what those Crawley Town players think.

“And for him to throw that old chestnut out from a manager who has been sacked from two clubs because he’s been rubbish, well…

“When you get personal and say, ‘I spent a year managing the rubbish you left behind’, well that Crawley Town team was far from rubbish.”

Evans had the last laugh, of course, as his side went on to win a famous promotion at Wembley while MK Dons finished in mid-table.


Robinson and Barker got their revenge just over a year later as they masterminded a 4-1 win over the Millers on the opening day of the 2015-2016 campaign when there was again reported to be more argy bargy in the tunnel.

Evans left his position soon after and Barker was allowed to resume a positive relationship with the club he had two spells for as a player and one he rejoined as Warne’s assistant last April.

And the day he fell foul to Evans’ acid-tongue still gets talked about.



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