Looking back 1: Jobsworths, unwanted questions, birthday shame at Roundwood and Ronnie Moore's appetite ... a behind-the-scenes look at Rotherham United's 2022/23 campaign

Magic moment ... Richard Wood after his last home appearanceMagic moment ... Richard Wood after his last home appearance
Magic moment ... Richard Wood after his last home appearance
No journalist witnessed more Millers events than the Advertiser's Paul Davis.

Biggest change:

Paul Warne out, Matt Taylor in. A new face is in the hot-seat after nearly six years.

Best moment 1:

The final whistle of the May Day 1-0 home win over Middlesbrough. Championship survival for the first time since 2016.

Best moment 2:

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The entire North Stand sings the ‘Magic’ song to Richard Wood after the Boro game, the captain’s last-ever match for Rotherham United at AESSEAL New York Stadium. The centre-half is so emotional when I interview on the pitch immediately afterwards that he twice fills up and can’t talk.

Best individual display:

Viktor Johansson at Stoke City. 1-0 to the Millers after six minutes, an all-out Potters assault thereafter. The goalkeeper’s number of saves runs into double figures.

Best team display:

The win 1-0 away win against Sheffield United and the end of 42 years of hurt at Bramall Lane. 4-0 home victories over Reading and Blackburn aren’t bad either while the 2-1 New York triumph over Sunderland is another of the great New York nights under the lights.

Memorable quote 1:

“I was her young, unsuspecting lodger in Norfolk before I became a pro footballer and she spent about six months plotting to snare me. Eventually she got her wicked way one night after she had plied me with alcohol and there was no way out after that.” Warne on how he and wife Rachel got together more than 25 years ago.

The word I find myself typing more than any other:

Injuries.

The best thing about staying in the Championship:

I already know how to spell Jutkiewicz.

Memorable quote 2:

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“One game, Mate. F*cking hell.” Lee Peltier teases Josh Vickers as the goalkeeper talks to the media after his first league appearance late in the campaign at Norwich City.

Warmest welcome:

Birmingham City. Lovely, down-to-earth staff who can’t do enough to help you.

Best away fans at New York:

Coventry City.

Best home fans:

Sunderland. So loud at the Stadium of Light that you feel the noise almost as much as you hear it.

Best individual displays by Millers outfield players:

Wood’s two-goal show in the 2-0 home triumph over Birmingham. Peltier’s defensive New York defiance against Sunderland.

Worst dancing:

Wood at home to Birmingham. TikTok has a lot to answer for.

Memorable quote 3:

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“We miss you.” Sarah Taylor’s text to her husband when she’s out with the couple’s young son, Darragh, shows how much the manager is present in body but not in mind with his family as he focuses everything on keeping the Millers up.

Worst day:

Losing 1-0 at Cardiff City, then one train is delayed and two cancelled on the way home. At 1am I’m trundling down the M1 in a black cab from Birmingham New Street Station back to South Yorkshire

Jobsworth 1:

Watford’s media chief enters the New York press room with then-manager Rob Edwards and says to reporters: “Can you all stop typing please.” This is in a working media suite where many journalists have extremely tight post-match deadlines to hit. Some pause because they need to ask Edwards questions. Those that don’t require quotes carry on typing. Edwards, by the way, has absolutely no issue with this.

Jobsworth 2:

“You can’t stand there.” A steward at Watford informs me I have the wrong pass even though it offers the same accreditation as every other journalist about to talk to Taylor at pitchside after a 1-1 draw. “Where can I stand then?” I ask. He points to a spot behind a rope a whole yard away. Everyone, including the amused Millers boss who can see how angry I am, obligingly takes one step to the left so I can be part of things and the interview begins.

Club with most jobsworths:

Watford.

Memorable quote 4:

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“He is the leader of the players on and off the pitch He is everything that is good about this club. Of all the players I’ve been involved with in my 20 years with the Millers he is up there as one of the greatest.” Warne’s salute to veteran skipper Wood.

Most cunning operator:

Ronnie ‘Two Meals’ Moore when he’s on the hunt for extra press-room grub. The former Millers striker and manager does a lot of radio work these days and loves his press-room food. He patiently waits for a change in server and then strikes as fast as he ever did in his centre-forward days in his quest for second helpings.

12th man:

Supporter Callum Green takes off his jumper and  hands it to Wes Harding so the player can dry the ball before launching a throw-in against Norwich City at New York.

Player I’d be happy for my sister to date:

Hakeem Odoffin. What a lovely, genuine bloke Haks is.

Player my sister would most like to date:

Cameron Humphreys. Can’t see it happening. She’s married and in her 50s.

The photograph with the shortest shelf life:

The team picture with Warne and his staff on it.

Best debut:

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New manager Taylor at his October unveiling press conference. Polished, passionate and already referring to the Millers as ‘we’. Tariq Fosu at Watford and Jordan Hugill getting right under the skin of Sheffield United centre-half Anel Ahmedhodzic at New York are good first impressions too.

Memorable quote 5:

“Well, I f*cking enjoyed that. What a group of players and what a group of supporters.” Johansson is rather chuffed after the safety-sealing triumph over Middlesbrough.

Biggest missed target:

“Twenty goals would be a good season for me.” Summer signing Tom Eaves sets the bar high. Maybe he means appearances. He gets to 21 of those without ever scoring.

Most intimate moment:

Sitting quietly in a stand at Bramall Lane after the madness of the 1-0 win over the Blades with just scorer Ben Wiles for company. In the post-derby darkness of a November night, we talk about his goal, about his poorly grandad, Eddie Colquhoun, about a lot of things. “I hope I’ve made my grandad proud,” he says. Eddie, a Lane legend, sadly passes away later in the season.

Happy couple:

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Georgie Kelly and Ollie Rathbone. The latter lives in Blackburn and stays over a couple of nights a week at the former’s Wickersley apartment where they cook pasta meals for each other.

Most effective referee:

Burnley manager Vincent Kompany.

Proud personal moment:

Being part of a Monday-morning coffee round with Woody, Wiles and Peltier when I go down to Roundwood to see the captain for his Advertiser column.

Biggest lie on Twitter 1:

Warne agrees to join Derby County in July and knows for more than three months he is leaving the Millers.

Biggest lie on Twitter 2:

There’s no longer a Newcastle United sell-on clause in Dan Barlaser’s Rotherham contract.

Biggest lie on Twitter 3:

Rathbone is refusing to play until he signs a new deal.

Best goal:

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Odoffin’s winner against Middlesbrough is stunning and is certainly the most important goal. But Rathbone’s strike at home to Sunderland tops the list for me. Watch it again and see how far the midfielder runs with the ball before shooting.

Memorable quote 6:

“He’s not the brightest tool on the box.” Taylor reflects, somewhat harshly, on why Robbie Hemfrey might not have grasped the enormity of the event when the young goalkeeper came on for his senior debut against mighty Burnley.

Memorable quote 7:

“I think Josh Vickers would have kicked better with his injured leg.” Taylor seems determined to play down the Scot’s big night!

Reluctant interviewee:

Barlaser is a brilliant lad and usually happy to take on press duties but he’s not too keen when he’s asked by the club’s media staff to pop out and speak to journalists after a 2-2 draw at Coventry in October.

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“Do I have to? They’ll all be asking me about Middlesbrough.”

News has been emerging that the Teessiders are preparing a January bid and that the Geordie is open to a move closer to his family in the north east.

He’s right. We all ask him about Boro.

Birthday shame:

Humphreys is facing a fine after turning up at Roundwood with a cake deemed far too small by his teammates as he marks turning 24. The next training day, he’s trailing doughnuts everywhere in a bid to make amends and avoid a contribution to the players’ pool.

Final word:

Championship survival for the first time since 2016. Yeah, I know I’ve already mentioned it. I just like saying it.

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CHAMP TEAM OF THE YEAR

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This side is selected purely on performances against the Millers.

(3-4-1-2): Freddie Woodman (Preston); Sonny Bradley (Luton), Cedric Kipre (Cardiff), Tom Lockyer (Luton); Manuel Benson (Burnley), Jean Michael Seri (Hull City), Ryan Woods (Hull City), Jack Clarke (Sunderland); Ilias Chair (QPR); Viktor Gyokeres (Coventry), Kion Etete (Cardiff).