Richard Wood on *that* ovation at AESSEAL New York Stadium when he returned to the Rotherham United side

The Millers captain's weekly column for the Advertiser.

IT was a moment I’ll remember forever.

I just want to thank all the fans for that roar at New York Stadium when I came on against Luton Town last Saturday and let them know how much I appreciated it. It was unbelievable and made me feel proud.

All I wish is that the final score had been different.

I’d not been picked for the squad since January so I was really happy to be back, and that reception made it even more special.

It’s a shame that you can’t take it all in at the time as you’re trying to concentrate on the game. We had a corner when I came on along with striker Georgie Kelly and I was just desperate to run into the penalty area to try to score.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get on the end of it. To have bagged a goal then would have topped everything off.

The fans were signing my ‘Magic’ song in the first half when I was warming up on the touchline. I’d been hoping they might and it made me smile when they did. It had been a long time since I’d heard it.

I was so keen to be involved that I was going to do some stretching and stuff after about a minute and then thought: ‘I’d best not!’ I left it to the normal 15 to 20 minutes into the game.

Once I was on the pitch, I felt all right, although I couldn’t get my second wind. It’s harder coming on as a defender than it is as an attacker. A striker can make a few mistakes before he gets going but a centre-half can’t afford a slip-up as it could lead to an opposition goal.

I had a few nice touches, got in some clearances, made an important block and just enjoyed being out there.

Having not been selected for so long, I’d been starting to think I wouldn’t get to play again before the end of the season.

If you’re not in the team, you have to stay professional. In training, I’ve just got my head down, worked as hard as I could and hoped I’d get a chance.

I’ve been keeping on top of my fitness with some extra work so I could be ready if I was called upon.

My boys, Jenson and Graye, were at the match and they loved seeing me in action again.

When I warmed up in the second half and did some sprints, I looked up at them in the West Stand and they mouthed to me: ‘Are you coming on?’ I could see the excitement on their faces when I nodded to them.

It’s a lovely feeling for them when their dad is cheered like that.


LUTON are some side and deserved their 2-0 win against us.

They’re a good team, a proper team. They’re not full of the biggest names in the Championship but they’ve got really good players who all know what their roles are.

The Hatters function really well as a unit. They can be direct and they can also play. They mix it up and a very good at what they do.

Luton play it around at the back, suck you in and then go quickly to the strikers whose movement and hold-up play is very good. Their midfield runners pick the right moments to go or stay.

I was really impressed by them. They might have just left it a bit too late for automatic promotion but they’ll be very hard to beat in the play-offs.

In terms of an all-round team, they’re the best I’ve seen at New York this season.


BAILEY Wright had rotten luck during his loan spell with us.

The centre-half is a nice lad and I got on really well with him. I’ll miss him now he’s back at his parent club, Sunderland, having treatment on the torn ankle ligaments that have ended his campaign.

His time with us was summed up in his debut appearance when he got concussed in the first few seconds before he’d even touched the ball.

It’s a shame. You never like to see anyone get a bad injury. He’s a good player with a good pedigree: he’s got a fair few games for his country, Australia, to his name and has played in the World Cup.

I hope he’s back playing at the start of next season.


THE Premier League title is in Manchester City’s hands now and I think they’ll go on to lift the trophy.

If they win their game in hand and also beat Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium they can go above the Gunners into pole position

Arsenal twice letting two-goal leads slip, against Liverpool and then West Ham, just shows what the pressure can be like at the top of the table at the business end of the campaign.

City are used to it and know they can handle it; it’s new for Mikel Arteta’s men and they’ve wobbled.

City have the best players: Jack Grealish, Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne, the list goes on. Grealish has been amazing this season. I played against him for Rotherham in the Championship in 2016 when he was with Aston Villa and I could tell then that he was destined for great things. We lost 3-0 at Villa Park where he ran the game and scored the final goal. He was so good on the ball.