Rotherham United skipper Richard Wood on what tonight's Cardiff City clash means to him, plus the time he suffered a barrage of insults as a young player

The Captain's Column in this week's Advertiser

EVEN my neighbours know how much I’m relishing tonight’s crucial Championship clash against Cardiff City.

If we take all three points, we’ve won our battle to stay up. It’s as simple as that.

It’s a massive, massive game and I can’t wait for it.

There’ll be a great atmosphere at New York Stadium. There’s lots at stake for Cardiff as well because their survival isn’t guaranteed either.

Our ground has seen some special nights under the lights over the years and I’m hoping this will be another one. It reminds of the match there against Reading in 2015 when we won to keep our place in the second tier. I so want us to replicate that.

I live for games like this. I love it when something really important is on the line. I was speaking to the people next door about it on Sunday and they said to me: ‘You like pressure games, don’t you?’

Dead right I do. They’re the best part of being a pro. They’re why you play the game.

The initial New York match against the Bluebirds was called off early in the second half because torrential rain left the pitch unplayable.

They weren’t happy about it but I don’t think they’ll turn up with any added edge tonight. There’s so much riding on the game anyway that the abandonment last month is pretty irrelevant now.

Even though we have a couple of matches left after this evening, we have to focus entirely on this game and not start thinking that if we lose we’ll still have a chance of securing our safety in the next two outings.

This contest is not quite do or die. But we need to approach it as if it is.


I’VE had insults thrown at me throughout my career but only one opponent has ever called me ugly.

That old, gnarly striker, Dean Windass, was the culprit. I was a kid in the Sheffield Wednesday team and he’d been around for years and was playing for Bradford City at the time.

He simply didn’t shut up throughout the game. He kept trying and trying to get a response out of me and was constantly telling me how ugly I was.

There was all kinds of other uncomplimentary stuff too. He was also stamping on my toes every chance that he got.

I was a teenager back then and didn’t like the verbals but if somebody tried it nowadays I’d find it hilarious.

Off the pitch, Dean is a nice fella with a great sense of humour and I’ve always got on well with him. We have a chat whenever we bump into each other.

He was a great player too; better than a lot of people realise. There aren’t many strikers who could score that famous volley he put away in the play-off final in 2008 against Bristol City to take Hull City up to the Premier League.

As for calling me ugly ... the cheek of him! He’s no oil painting himself, is he?!


CONGRATULATIONS to my teammate, Haks Odoffin. Being named EFL Championship Community Player of the Year is something he should be very proud of.

It’s very good recognition and he deserves it. Our midfielder is a great lad and is selfless in what he does off the pitch.

All of the lads do a lot of community work, to be fair, but he takes on more than anyone. Rotherham are a good club for things like that.

The lads are out there every week after training making appearances at schools and other places. It’s a lovely thing to do and I enjoy it when it’s my turn.

To see a child’s face light up because you’re there ... that’s why you do it. It’s nice to put a smile on people’s faces. The kids love it, especially when you play a bit of football with them or get involved in whatever it is they’re doing.

Haks will have had a good night at the Grosvenor House hotel in Park Lane, London, on Sunday. The awards ceremony is a posh ‘do’ and I know family and a few friends were there with him. He looked very smart in his suit and dickie bow!


IT was a killer blow at Bristol City last Saturday when they scored a stoppage-time winner against us.

Our first-half performance certainly wasn’t great but we did well after the interval and came back right back into it.

1-1 would have been a fair result, although we had enough chances to even sneak a victory.

I played an unwitting part in the Robins’ 91st-minute goal. The ball hit me in the build-up but there was nothing I could do about it.

I’d headed it and then fallen over an opponent while it was in the air. I’d no idea where it was when it came back down and caught me on the back while I was still on the ground. From there, it pinged around the six-yard box and City managed to stick it in.

We had to move on quickly and we’ve spent all this week concentrating on Cardiff and tonight.

l THERE was no Viktor Johansson in the EFL Championship Team of the Year that was announced last weekend.

The Viking would have been in there for me. He’s top of the goalkeeper stats for the division and has been unbelievable for us this season. All the Millers players and fans know just how good he is.

Of all the outfield players in the Champ this year the one who has most caught my eye is Manuel Benson.

Burnley’s winger came off the bench in both games against us and scored a brilliant goal in each. The boy can really play and he’s deadly from distance.

I’ve no idea why he has hasn’t featured more for the Clarets. He has made more league substitute appearances (19) than starts (13) this term. Ten goals is an excellent return on those figures.


I SMILED to myself when I saw the club’s tweet that more than 3,000 tickets have already been snapped up for our last-day trip to Wigan Athletic on May 8.

To be honest, I wouldn’t have expected anything less from our supporters.

Our away following has been amazing in the nine seasons I’ve been with Rotherham. The fans travel in numbers and I’ve always enjoyed and appreciated their backing.

I remember thousands of them packing the away section at St James’ Park and singing throughout the game when we went to Newcastle United in the Championship.

As for Gillingham in League One last season ... that’s a promotion day I’ll never forget and a huge part of that is down to those 2,000-plus Millers in the away end. Bedlam!