MATCH REPORT: Rotherham 1 Northampton 1

Rotherham United FC v Northampton Town FC - Npower League 2 - 05/05/12 - Rotherham United walk out for the last time to the empty terraces of Don Valley Stadium

Rotherham United FC v Northampton Town FC - Npower League 2 - 05/05/12 - Rotherham United walk out for the last time to the empty terraces of Don Valley Stadium

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Next stop? New York Stadium. I can’t wait!

When they get there, those loyal fans who have stuck out the last four years at Don Valley Stadium every step of the way should get a medal as big as a church clock.

Rotherham United FC v Northampton Town FC - Npower League 2 - 05/05/12 - Alex Revell volleys United in front against Northampton

Rotherham United FC v Northampton Town FC - Npower League 2 - 05/05/12 - Alex Revell volleys United in front against Northampton

And they should wear it like a campaign medal because - to use footballing parlance - it hasn’t been easy. In fact, it has been an ordeal more often than not and in more ways than one.

There were plenty who tried it once, twice and just a bit more but then jacked it in. It wasn’t the ‘football experience’ they’d been nurtured on.

They’d grown up with memories of night games at Millmoor, the fans right behind their team, baying at some perceived injustice and roaring them on.

The default setting these last four years could hardly be further removed from that. They just couldn’t get ‘into’ the game. Crikey, they were too far away to even have a go at the ref - that’s if you could judge an error in the first place!

The Rotherham Utd Boss Steve Evans Faces the Press for the 1st time as the New Millers Boss.

The Rotherham Utd Boss Steve Evans Faces the Press for the 1st time as the New Millers Boss.

What a contrast the New York Stadium promises to be with its intimacy, its steep sides and, if last Thursday night’s fans’ forum is anything to judge by, a whole new mood of positivity coarsing through the veins of Millers fans.

They’re “Coming Home” and you can’t blame them for singing it loud and proud as they did here. The passion and mood of the faithful is clear.

They can’t wait to get in the new stadium; to get right behind the team and back a manager they have taken to after initial scepticism.

Negativity has never been far away among Rotherham fans during the difficult recent years stretching well before the Millmoor departure in 2008.

And if you could recreate conversation or dig out internet postings, you would find no end betting their life savings away that a new ground would never be built.

But, thanks to chairman Tony Stewart’s vision, desire, unbridled enthusiasm and, of course, cash, it is there for all to see in its smashing splendour.

Of course, not even the biggest moaner - despite all the wind, the freezing cold nights (and days) and everything else that made it a less than spectacular football-watching experience - would not acknowledge the debt owed to Don Valley Stadium in the history of Rotherham United.

Chairman Stewart has pointed out that without Don Valley there may have been no New York Stadium.

It was, after all, somewhere to lay your head four years ago. What would they have done otherwise? Pitchside beforehand, mike in hand, Tony got a rapturous reception and rightly so. And he thanked all at DVS for their help and assistance. It hasn’t all been bad - far from it.

Perhaps, though, Don Valley had the last laugh after all. Got its own back on all those who have moaned and grumbled across the past four years.

Well, just as an atmosphere had built on this final Saturday, all ready to salute a 1-0 victory to nicely bookend a similar scoreline from the first game back in August 2008 (a few hundred more here for the last game than the first incidentally) up it popped with a stoppage-time equaliser - and no goal has been scored closer to the final whistle than this.

It was almost a mocking ‘take that’. It really did flatten everyone.

It actually should not have mattered and been no more than a mere consolation. It could have been sorted out by half-time and certainly should have been with the opportunities carved out late in the second half.

It added emphasis to the Steve Evans words afterwards about the importance of extra quality in the final third.

With Ryan Cresswell out through illness, it meant the 24th different back four of the season - and if that isn’t a record I’ll go back to Don Valley next season and sit there on my own! It’s one of the major reasons why they haven’t finished higher than tenth!

Further defence changes were required at half-time due to Dale Tonge’s ankle injury, meaning Danny Harrison at right-back and Mark Bradley at left-back. I reckon the odds last August on that happening on the season’s final day would have been many tens of thousands to one..

Lewis Grabban struck a post and there were several escapes before Alex Revell volleyed the Millers in front on 31 minutes.

In the second half Revell and Grabban went close and Revell passed up a great opportunity to find Hoskins in front of goal.

There was nearly a dream start for 18-year-old debut striker Alec Denton when Jason Taylor put him through but his finish was too close to the keeper,

There was a standing ovation for Millers legend Paul Warne 10 minutes from time and the fairytale finale could well have accrued had young Denton slipped a pass to him rather than finding Revell on the right. Revell and Grabban might have scored.

The 90+3 (of three) equaliser, Adebayo Akinfenwa’s header from a free-kick, was undeserved and took the gloss off what was set to be a winning finale.

Leaving after 6pm, by my usual route, across the running track to the far side of the pitch, I turned and looked back at the view from the opposite side which fans don’t see.

At a main stand, the distinctive design of which has, for four years, been different to any other in English football.

Quite different. An iconic stadium perhaps!

But as all Millers fans known, the iconic stadium is up next.

I really can’t wait!