Steve Evans once famously claimed “We’re Rotherham United, we don’t get penalties”.
Forgetting the fact that at the time he said that, back in the League One promotion season, only two teams in the division had been awarded more than the Millers, it turns out that this season he’s right.
That is because Rotherham are the only one of the 92 league clubs in the country not to have been awarded a spot-kick so far this campaign.
It is 38 games since they were last fouled in the area – in the eyes of a referee at least – when Richard Wood was chopped down at MK Dons, with Leon Best stroking home from 12 yards.
It is a head-scratching stat that deserves exploring. Is it a result of them being generally rubbish this season? Is there a conspiracy against the Millers? Or is it simply an anomaly?
It is easy to point to their league position and assume it has something to do with that.
Yes, the Millers spend more time in their own box than the opposition’s – which is probably why only Barnsley (9) have conceded more than the eight spot-kicks they have – but their attacking stats are not the worst in the division.
Although they are tied on the least goals (30) with Aston Villa and Wigan, they average more shots per game than Blackburn, Ipswich and Wigan and 58 per cent of those have come inside the 18-yard box, proving that they get into positions where penalties are won.
It is more likely that the quality of their play in those areas are not good enough to draw fouls or as Paul Warne suggested after his side were inexplicably denied a penalty at Newcastle, maybe they are too honest in situations where gamesmanship may be required.
Another one of Evans’ famous claims was that the Football League did not want Rotherham in the Championship. Nonsense, of course, but that came after they were denied another stonewall penalty at Blackburn when Alex Baptiste blatantly handled the ball.
Is it a coincidence that Rotherham, who are a minnow in the division, are the side with the lowest amount of penalties?
The stats over the previous six seasons at this level suggest, yes. Last term, only champions Burnley were awarded more spot-kicks than Rotherham, who won seven, dispelling any myths of an agenda against the Millers.
Even back in the four years of second-tier football under Ronnie Moore when the Millers really did get the rough end of refereeing decisions, in two of those four seasons they were awarded more penalties than they conceded, with the 2003-04 campaign bringing seven.
That said, as wrong as it is, there just some occasions that Rotherham, given the stature of them and their opponents, that they won’t get decisions. The clear foul on Anthony Forde at Newcastle is an example of that. If that incident had happened at the other end of the pitch, it would almost definitely has resulted in a penalty.
Of those seven penalties last season only one was away from home – at MK Dons.
As easy as it is to believe the referees are conspiring against the Millers, as with so much that has gone wrong over the last nine months, we might just have to put it down to being ‘one of those seasons’.