Non-league scare that makes Paul Warne respect Rotherham United's FA Cup opponents

PAUL Warne has only to think back to November 6 2005 to realise how arduous Rotherham United’s impending FA Cup first-round mission could turn out to be.
Paul WarnePaul Warne
Paul Warne

The Millers head to Maidenhead United on Noveber 9 after the National League side saw off National League South opponents Wealdstone in a midweek qualifying-stage replay.

The Rotherham manager, who started out as a player at non-league level, clearly remembers being part of the League One Oldham Athletic team that were given the scare of their lives by a team of part-timers 14 years ago.

“We played against Chasetown and it was the main game on Match of the Day Live on a Sunday,” he recalled. “We drew 1-1 — luckily, David Eyres scored after they had taken the lead — and we were horrendous.

“They caused us all sorts of problems. We brought them back to Boundary Park and beat them 4-0, but at their place, on their pitch, it was a right leveller and a right tough game.”

Warne played for Diss Town and Wroxham in his home county of Norfolk before being given his Football League chance by Wigan Athletic and is well aware how fired up Maidenhead will be when they entertain the Millers on November 9.

“I’m not absolutely buzzing about the draw because I know it will be a difficult place to go to,” he admitted. “I understand how motivated our opponents will be because I played non-league football until I was 23.

“If I was at Diss or Wroxham and we were playing Rotherham from League One who had been in the Championship, I’d be absolutely buzzing.

“I would go into that game as a player or as a manager or as a coach with no fear, no pressure. I’d just want to go out and run all over them. I know that’s how Maidenhead will feel against us.

“I know we will go in favourites. As the FA Cup has shown over many years, favourites don’t always win. I fully appreciate how tough the game will be.

“We had someone go and watch their fourth-qualifying-round replay. We won’t take the tie lightly. We will prepare for it in exactly the same way we would a league game and the lads will know how difficult it is going to be.”

The boss buys into the romance of the cup yet would be happier in the role of underdog.

“I like the whole FA Cup thing of league v non-league,” he said. “I do enjoy that part. But I’d enjoy it more if I wasn’t the manager of the league team.”