From Mexico to 'New York' (Stadium) – Millers fan flies home for 'last' match
Philip Rylett arranged the 9000km journey and 16-hour flight from his home in Mexico with his trusty scarf for next Saturday’s game against Norwich to see his “second family”.
And he says he expects there have been “a lot of changes since I first tossed my two bob on the turnstile counter at Millmoor!”
The dad of three said: “It has been almost 20 years since I last visited and I anticipated being lost - figuratively and literally - in my own home town.
“I am now 72 - this could be the last time I see the Millers play live.
“So I reached out to the fan community and the response has been great with people helping with tickets and organising a day out for me.”
Philip, a former Ashwood Primary and Junior School and Wath Grammar pupil, said: “My first time at Millmoor I was eight or nine.
“My dad, a miner, never had much interest in football, so I went every week on my own.
“It became my second family. Friends were attracted to the shiny things like Owls and Blades and their Division One glamour.
“I was happy at Millmoor with my pie and cup of Bovril.
“I bought a scarf in 1968, before a Wolves FA Cup game. It has travelled with me everywhere I go - 30 years in California and now the last 11 years in Mexico.
“I watch Rotherham every week on iFollow and drape my scarf over my TV.
“It always brings luck - just not always of the good variety!
“I will be bringing it home to rest. The club indicated it wants to put it on display. It has worked hard - a fitting place to retire.”
After graduating from Leeds University, Philip worked at the university as a pharmacology researcher, before becoming a nurse in Brighton.
The nursing qualification allowed him to move to Los Angeles where he studied to become a computer programmer and raised his family.
His two sons and daughter all live in California, while he moved to Mexico after retiring to a town called Ajijic by the country's largest lake, Lake Chapala.
The group managing the local football teams asked if he would start a soccer school - “to give the kids an alternative to the streets” - and he still maintains their website.
But what has Philip, who still has relatives in Rotherham, missed most?
“Grounded people – I didn't find many of them in California!” he said.
“Honest, friendly, speak-your-mind folk who enjoy a bit of banter and an unpretentious night out - I'm looking forward to a pint of John Smith's.
“After that, family and friends. There is a Wath Grammar reunion – I will be seeing friends that I haven't seen for over 50 years!
“I am interested in seeing how the town centre has been transformed.
“Oh, and a Pukka pie!”