WE WILL NOT GET INTO THE STOP UN­TIL WE CHAM­PI­ONSHIP

Rother­ham chair­man says he and boss Steve Evans are ‘in­sa­tiable’

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE PLAY-OFF FINAL - By Jamie Holt

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.

Clown

“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.

Deal

“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

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

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

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