WE WILL NOT GET INTO THE STOP UNTIL WE CHAMPIONSHIP
Rotherham chairman says he and boss Steve Evans are ‘insatiable’
ROTHERHAM’S League One rivals next year have been warned – the larger than life duo of manager Steve Evans and chairman Tony Stewart have an insatiable appetite for success.
It’s taken five years, four of them spent in the gloomy surroundings of Sheffield’s Don Valley Stadium, £30m investment and four different managers for Stewart to find the perfect partner in Evans – and promotion to the third tier.
The brand spanking New York Stadium which opened its doors this season helps of course, more for the long-awaited return to Rotherham than the 12,000 capacity and the revenue that comes with it.
But it’s the in-your-face, straight-talking of former Crawley boss Evans that Stewart claims has been the catalyst for the Millers’ rise from the doldrums.
“The manager is a competitive guy. Don’t forget we had 30 new players to consolidate at the start of this season and to get promotion is nothing short of a miracle,” said Stewart, the owner of Rotherham-based company ASD Lighting.
“I can’t speak highly enough of Steve, as a friend or as a colleague. I’ve had four managers in my time, and he’s a manager I can work very well with. His dreams are my dreams, his expectations are my expectations.
“I liked what he achieved at Crawley. They never seemed to be off the TV. I like that sort of charge mentality he creates, and I thought it would suit us very well at Rotherham.
“He’s a character, and characters are good for football, but it’s about results and he gets them.You could have Coco the Clown on the touchline dancing about but he isn’t going to get results.
“We speak every day, we share everything, there are no secrets between us, I like it that way. A lot of people see Steve as a controversial character, but I see him as a talented man with drive and determination.
“We’ll not stop. I’m insatiable.We are aiming for the Championship and who knows what can happen?
“This isn’t a quick fix, I’m really enjoying being part of the adventure, my family are enjoying being part of the adventure, my 92-year-old mother hasn’t missed a game this season. I’m no spring chicken but I can see myself going for another 15 or 20 years.”
There were times when he thought he would never see last month’s jubilant celebrations after clinching automatic promotion on the final day of the season with victory over Aldershot. When Stewart took over in 2008 and bought the club out of administration, he had to accept a 17-point penalty. Then things got worse when a deal to buy the land around their former home Millmoor fell through.
Temporary arrangements had to be made while he made plans to build a new stadium, but it meant moving to a different city at a stadium with a running track, which was far from popular. The average gate fell to just 3,500.
It was a startling beginning for Stewart who readily admits he had not even seen 50 football matches before he took on Rotherham. But having watched all 46 this season alongside his mother,
Katherine, he says it’s been worthwhile.
“Money can do lots of things, but there are certain things that mean more than money, and the ambition was always to get into League One and also move into the Championship.
“We experienced four years out in the wilderness but now we are seeing new fans come in, and the old ones coming back.The promotion has been worth the trouble.
“One of the first problems was I couldn’t do a deal with the Booth family who owned the land around Millmoor.
“The club was 20 years out of date so I had to march it out of Rotherham and into the Don Valley, which wasn’t the ideal place for football – we lost a lot of fans with that move.
“But it was necessary to prepare for the fantastic new stadium, a stadium befitting any league. It’s our flagstone to move forward, the success of the football club is 50 per cent dependent on the stadium, 50 per cent on the football side of things.
“It’s like bringing the Eiffel Tower into Rotherham, it’s an iconic structure and it’s the first thing you see in the town.
“The plan is for that stadium to provide the revenue streams to support the club and for Rotherham to live within its means.”
BIG WINNER: Rotherham boss Evans
FIELD OF DREAMS: Millers fans invade the pitch at the New York stadium after beating Aldershot to clinch promotion
IN WITH A SHOUT: Rotherham chairman Tony Stewart