Blog number thirteen in the #Doingthe92 challenge is a visit to the AESSEAL New York Stadium. Home of Championship side, Rotherham United. If you recall in my last blog, I emailed a handful of clubs hoping to do some pitch side photos. Rotherham was the second, and last, club to email back saying yes. For those who don’t know, Rotherham have been promoted twice in the last two seasons finishing third in League Two in the 2012/13 season and winning the League One Play-Offs last season. But this season, they have struggled. Before visiting, the club were sitting in 21st place mere points from relegation. This game against Brighton & Hove Albion was really important to the fans. They knew that a victory would, hopefully, keep them in the Championship for another season. And they can relegate Blackpool to League One.
I arrived in Rotherham with time to kill. I like to arrive early in places so I can have a look around and see what the city/town has to offer for tourists/away fans. But because the game was on Easter Monday and Rotherham being really small, there was barely anything open and nothing to do. The only things open were a Tescos, a KFC, one charity shop and a few pubs that only served Rotherham fans only. Getting to the ground isn’t easy if you travel by car as there are no signposts telling you where to go. There are signposts for those walking but not for those in cars. According to the club’s photographer, he says Rotherham Council refuse to put signs up because “it costs too much to make signs”. I’ll get back to this photographer because he was another one, like the one in Birmingham, who felt like bullying me. So fans who had travelled all the way from Brighton all got lost and ended up parking in Meadowhall and getting the train to Rotherham. It didn’t help that all the roads heading to the ground were all closed off for repairs.
When I finally made it to the ground, I made my way to the press office. But before I entered, I couldn’t help but notice that their old ground, Millmoor, was across the river. I asked someone working at the club if their old ground is still being used. Unfortunately, their old ground is no longer being used and acts as a car park for fans. The only people who use it are local schools. I entered the press room and was surprised at how small it was. They made up for the smallness with bowls of biscuits placed everywhere. They even had a Pukka Pie machine. All they had were meat and potato pies and sausage rolls. The club photographer entered and felt like making his presence known to everyone by bullying me. Why? Because “he’s an amateur. Look at him and his lack of equipment. Who would ever employ a useless wannabe like you?” He even questioned why I’d even bothered showing up. Thankfully two men from BBC Radio Surrey stood up for me before I had the chance to say anything. Why do these club photographers find it necessary to pick on me? Is it because they don’t know me? Let’s just say that I nearly decided to head home after those comments. I actually told this to the club photographer for Huddersfield Town, John, who shook his head in disgrace at what he said.
Before the game, I had a walk around the pitch and couldn’t help but notice how small the ground looked. They managed to get just fewer than 9900 fans to attend the game so it can’t be as small as it’s made out to be on TV. I was told by security that photographers could sit wherever they wanted, like at Rochdale, but all of them like to sit near the goal. I decided to sit next to Brighton & Hove Albion’s dugout because I like being different. As the game started, I had a look at all the fans in attendance and it amazed me at how many fans were wearing the Rotherham shirts. I had never seen that happen ever. After eight minutes, Rotherham fans were celebrating as Matt Derbyshire scored. I can’t remember how he scored but I do remember David Stockdale punching the ground in anger at letting in a goal.
This also caused Brighton’s manager, Chris Hughton, to start saying every swear word you can think of at his players. Mostly the f-word. That would be the only goal of the game as Rotherham “parked the bus” for the rest of the game while Brighton did everything they could to try and equalize. Unfortunately, they couldn’t equalize and the game ended 1-0 meaning that Rotherham were safe from relegation and that also meant that Blackpool were relegated.
Poor Blackpool. It never went right for them this campaign. I think they’ve only won 4 games all season. As the game wasn’t that interesting, I can’t really note anything that happened. I do remember Baram Kayal getting a yellow card for attempting to steal the ball from the goalkeeper while he was trying to take a goal kick. Another thing I remember was the referee only counting to 8 rather than 10 when giving a free kick. When he went to count his steps the second time, he was counted by the Brighton fans and again the referee only went as high as 8. One last try. Maybe the referee got it right on the third try. Nope! He again counted to 8 which lead to Leon Best comically doing the referee’s count for him. I would have thought that would have lead to a yellow card. He didn’t get a yellow nor did he get a red. What he got was the referee telling him, “don’t make me look f*cking stupid”.
When the final whistle blew, I remember Rotherham fans going mental. They were ecstatic. They were hugging the players as they came off the pitch and high-fiving Steve Evans for a job well done.
Overall, this is a game I will remember for mean club photographers, passionate fans and being bored in the town centre having nothing to do as all the shops were shut. As soon as I got home, I told my mum about the comments the club photographer said to me and she went on a rant. I can’t say what she said on here. All I want to do is take photos at football games and talk about them for you people reading these blogs. But when I get people who think it’s necessary to bully people because they’re getting started and looking to find the right career path makes me want to quit everything I do and start working full time in McDonalds.
Thankfully, my next visit doesn’t have me doing pitch side photos as I need a license and “try your luck with Sunday League teams”. The next club I will be visiting… is Sheffield United who are taking on a team who I spend three years “supporting” as I went to university there, Bradford City, in a Yorkshire derby. I will be doing some fundraising for Prostate Cancer UK for the third time in my doing the 92 challenge which is always a lot of fun. If you have any recommendations as to where I should visit then let me know on Twitter @DanWhite1993 and I will visit your recommended club next season. So far I have recommendations for Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United. Thanks for reading. I hope you have enjoyed this
Here are the full stats about the game
Team Visited – Rotherham United
Taking on – Brighton & Hove Albion
Venue – AESSEAL New York Stadium
Date Visited – April 6th 2015 (Easter Monday)
Overall Attendance – 9872
Score – Rotherham United 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Goal Scorers – Rotherham United – Matt Derbyshire (8)
Yellow Cards – Rotherham United – Ben Pringle (38), Paul Green (57)
Yellow Cards – Brighton & Hove Albion – Rohan Ince (44), Baram Kayal (54)
14th – Sheffield United – (April 18th vs. Bradford City – Fundraising with Prostate Cancer UK)
15th – Stevenage (April 25th vs. Carlisle United)
16th – Morecambe (May 2nd vs. Southend United)
17th – Crystal Palace (May 26th – Julian Speroni’s Testimonial vs. Dundee FC)