After Tuesday’s harrowing defeat at the hands of Wycombe, it was clear that the game against Rotherham was a little bit more serious than first realised previously. The fans had turned on their team in their droves in the Twittersphere in the hours after the final whistle at Adams Park and then subsequently each other, like some upper-class pigeons arguing over stale focaccia bread in a park in an upmarket London suburb.
I enjoy opinions as much as the next chap or lady, but I disagreed with most of what I read in the aftermath of the game. Not physically, I just sort of tutted and rolled my eyes, occasionally shaking my head at the more severe comments. I’ve said it before to anyone that will listen, but nothing (and I mean nothing) could ever be as bad as the Paul Clement era - a period of time when I genuinely didn’t turn up to games at the Whitley Bowl out of sheer apathy and anger. I didn’t boycott the club - I don’t think I could ever do that - but I definitely didn’t go to as many games as I could and should have and called in sick a few times.
I still believe the team is a good one and I felt we would get a result against The Millers (cracking nickname). The question was: would we rise like a salmon from a North American river in breeding season or would we collapse like Gavin Williamson at a Downing Street press conference?
Team selection-wise, I couldn’t have cared less who played. Sure, it would have been interesting to see Lucas and George play together, but the important thing was the win. I felt so strongly about this that I sent out a tweet which garnered literally 10s of likes, so I clearly wasn’t alone in this theory. As it happened, Pauno didn’t buckle and stuck with the same formation, but bought our more attacking full backs into the fray.
It was clear that the game was going to be a bit weird from the first minute. I couldn’t bear to listen to northern folk talk and so opted for the ‘no comms’ option on iFollow. It was basically as noisy as a Wetherspoons on curry night because there was shouting and yelling all over the place. The game was interspersed with random shouts of “come on Millers” literally every six minutes and some of the other chat, which I’ll share later in this very article, was absolutely hilarious. Pauno himself was behaving like he was at a live animal auction, hollering at anyone and everyone in a blue-and-white uniform. Paul Warne was also there and I will talk about him now in the next paragraph.
I have a huge man crush on the Rotherham manager. A classy, underrated individual, he was resplendent in a Canada Goose jacket and was holding what looked like a shop-bought takeaway cappuccino. Just an ocean of calm amidst the dreary, bleak landscape of Championship football. A really great chap. On nine minutes, someone’s phone went off (didn’t sound like a mobile, more a phone that wouldn’t look out of place in a 1960s department store) and yet another “come on Millers” shout went up.
We’d done alright so far in the game and looked the better of the two sides, which was confirmed when Morro scored on 26 minutes. How I chortled at the irony of all those calling for Joao and Puscas to play together and yet, here was Mr Dependable knocking in the opener.
There should have been a ‘2’ in the goals-scored column just before half time but somehow the white sphere stayed away from Rotherham’s onion bag and we went with the just the one scored at the break.
Regular readers will know that half time is mental for me, with a plethora of drinks and snacks on offer. This time though, I took full advantage of an empty house and cleaned the kitchen floor. Honestly, since we’ve moved, keeping a clean kitchen floor is one of my top priorities and I hate it when I spend ages doing it, only for a child, woman or cat to walk across it before it’s dry. And that is why, whenever I now go abroad and stay in a hotel and I’ve seen that the tiled floor in the foyer, toilet or dining room has been cleaned (or is in the process of being cleaned), I will wait patiently until the cleaner has finished and/or the floor has dried.
Nothing much happened in the second half. We kept our brains and wits about us and stifled Rotherham to perfection whilst not really threatening to score another goal ourselves. I was more fixated on what I could hear from the terraces. AND I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED! When Ejaria was subbed, he did one of those slow trot/walk/run things - you know the type, he couldn’t have moved any slower basically. These are hilarious if you are winning and infuriating if you are losing. Anyway, the chap who had been shouting “come on Millers” all through the game lost it and shouted “get him off ref. BLOODY HELL FIRE!”. Well, I roared with laughter at this point.
Only in the Championship, in Rotherham, where no fans are supposed to be allowed in and where you have the option to not have “professional” humans calling the action could you have this sort of behaviour. I imagined him there, sat with with his flat cap on, his pint of gravy and a whippet sat patiently next to him, his frost-bitten fingers scratching his large knees through his brown (or very dark green) corduroy trousers as he ground his yellowing teeth in anguish at this example of showmanship. Genuinely excellent vibes.
We held on for the win after a nervy final five minutes in which I may or may not have passed wind and a +3, thankfully, was nestled safely into our overall points deposit box.
Not a vintage win by any stretch of the mind, but sometimes you’ve got to ride the camel through the desert to get to water. An interesting fixture awaits us on Tuesday in the shape of Blackburn who probably need one more win to be sure of staying in the league again next year. On paper, another winnable game, but we all know paper lies to us like a fraudulent tax return.
Pauno will have to raise the attacking gains for the next match and with the possibility of Meite back to full fitness, expect to see Semedo drop out and Rino and Laurent reunite in the middle. The most important thing now is for the players to remember how they feel after winning today and to keep that going.
Until next time.