The 12 pays of Christmas ... a month-by-month guide to how boss Paul Warne and his staff earned their Rotherham United wages in an unforgettable 2018

Paul WarnePaul Warne
Paul Warne
THE marks on the wall calendar in the manager's office show that, despite a year of Rotherham United success, Paul Warne and his inner circle never get carried away

THE marks on the wall calendar in the manager's office show that, despite a year of Rotherham United success, manager Paul Warne and his inner circle never get carried away

The Millers won promotion from League One in May and head into the festive period clear of the drop zone as they look to establish a foothold in the Championship.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Warne, assistant boss Richie Barker and coaches Matt Hamshaw and Mike Pollitt, working in tandem at the club's Roundwood training HQ, have been at the helm of a remarkable journey.

But they take nothing for granted.

“At work, we star pay day on the calendar and we always think if we win a game we can get to the next pay day,” Warne says. “We joke about surviving to the next one.”

PAUL DAVIS charts how they more than survived from January to December.


DISASTER! Top scorer Kieffer Moore is recalled by parent club Ipswich Town after scoring 13 goals in 24 loan appearances.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Disaster over! Michael Smith joins Rotherham on a free transfer. There's little initial excitement as the striker couldn't even get a game with League One strugglers Bury and his debut, as a 66th-minute substitute for Jerry Yates in a 1-1 at Oldham Athletic, is utterly unremarkable. Don't worry, things will change.

“Kenny, what's the score?” 39-day Jackett returns to AESSEAL New York Stadium for the first time since his quickfire flit and his Portsmouth team are beaten 1-0 in the last minute by a Joe Mattock header. The home crowd, rather loudly, ask him a pertinent question. I'm not sure which is rarer, a Mattock headed goal or a sighting of Jackett in Rotherham.

By the end of the month, the Millers are nine games unbeaten and the play-offs are becoming a real possibility.

Quote: “Jeez, I'm freezing.” Shivering scorer Ryan Williams doesn't relish being put up for media duties on the Boundary Park touchline after the Oldham draw. Let's hope he thaws out soon because he hasn't scored since.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Results: Blackburn H 1-1, Oldham A 1-1, Portsmouth H 1-0, Bradford H 2-0.


WILL Vaulks is right in the face of Dean Henderson telling the Shrewsbury Town goalkeeper exactly what he thinks of him. 

Henderson has come for the ball close to half-time and got nowhere near it, allowing Richard Wood to score the only goal of the game at Rotherham's promotion rivals . 

So much for Henderson calling himself “The Greatest” on Twitter before the game, a boast he removes from his account before the weekend is out. Rotherham are magnificent in a 1-0 win.

Will Vaulks

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Joe Newell goes sliding in joy straight into the loving arms of a pitch-invader as his penalty in the 113th minute seals a 2-1 home win over Doncaster Rovers. Both Millers goals come in time added on. Smith scores the first and is brought down for the second. The ‘Smudge’ bandwagon is rolling. No-one is talking about Kieffer anymore.

Paul Warne's men win all five of their February matches during a run of seven straight victories as they rack up a 14-game unbeaten sequence.

Quote: “The next thing I knew, I was being hugged by some random guy.” The spot-kick against Rovers goes to Newell's head.

Results: AFC Wimbledon H 2-0, Scunthorpe A 2-1, Oxford H 3-1, Shrewsbury A 1-0, Doncaster H 2-1.


Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The run is over after a surprise New York defeat against Rochdale.

Business as usual resumes with a 3-0 win at Northampton Town when Richie Towell finishes off a seven-man move for the Goal of the Season. At least I think he does. 

It snows at Sixfields, there is no press room and after four hours sitting in the stand I pass out in the early stages of hypothermia just as the midfielder prepares to shoot.

It's so, so cold. God knows what state that nesh Aussie, Williams, is in.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Fourth spot and the play-offs are looking more and more certain.

Quote: “I might have got the first or the second goal at Northampton. I wouldn’t have scored the third.” Warne recognises the quality of his Millers side and his own status as the world's best winner of throw-ins during his playing days.

Results: Rochdale H 0-1, MK Dons A 2-3, Northampton A 3-0, Southend A 0-2, Peterborough H 1-1.


THAT man, Smith, goes wheeling away in delight as he scores a stunner during a 2-0 win over Bristol Rovers that guarantees Rotherham their play-off place. 

Michael Smith

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The gasps from fans at the quality of the goal are nothing like the ones in the New York media suite later when Warne says he will put his hand in his pocket for his entire squad at that evening's end-of-season bash.

Quote: “I’ve told the players I will buy them all a drink. I need them to know it’s not compulsory. They don’t have to have a drink off me, but they can. There is some carbohydrate in lager!” Warne visibly pales as he goes public with his offer.

Footnote: The manager buys nobody a drink that night, not even his wife.

Results: Charlton A 1-3, Fleetwood H 3-2, Wigan A 0-0, Gillingham A 1-0, Bristol Rovers H 2-0, Plymouth A 1-2.



Hide Ad
Hide Ad

TWO Wembley goals, thousands of magic hats. Rotherham win promotion to the Championship in the Richard Wood League One Play-off Final.

The Millers skipper twice puts the ball past his old Shrewsbury pal, Henderson, to seal a 2-1 extra-time win and complete an amazing first full season in charge for Warne.

Warne goes to high-five Wood after the match-winning strike but his captain, running the 100 metres in 8.3 seconds despite a toe injury and being almost out on his feet, goes charging straight past him down the touchline.

All together now ...”Richard Wood is magic, he wears a magic hat.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Quote:Will I marry him now? No, he needed a hat-trick for that.” Wood's long-term partner and mother of his two boys, Jade, decides against tying the knot with a Wembley hero.

Results: Blackpool H 1-0, Scunthorpe A (play-off semi-final first leg) 2-2, Scunthorpe H (second leg) 2-0, Shrewsbury (play-off final) 2-1 (after extra time).


THE sun is shining for Rotherham's management duo and the club's fans as Warne and number two Richie Barker head off abroad on a joint family holiday and sign new three-year deals while they're basking in their Speedos and the post-Wembley glow.

Blackpool duo Kyle Vassell and Clark Robertson join the Millers

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Quote: “We've now got the manager and the assistant manager tied down to contracts that we feel their efforts deserve. We all want to achieve the same goals in continuing to make Rotherham United a better club.” Chairman Tony Stewart is delighted to reward the dynamic duo.


THE hills are alive with the sound of toiling players as the Millers are put through their paces on the pre-season tour to Austria.

July is loan month as goalkeeper Marek Rodak returns from Fulham for a second season and defenders Zak Vyner and Sean Raggett arrive from Bristol City and Norwich City respectively.

Billy Jones signs a permanent deal after leaving Sunderland.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Quote: “We’ve all been desperate for Rodak to come back after last year. He will be absolutely vital for us.” Millers supporter TheAmazingJPie gets it absolutely right on an online Championship fans forum.


HE'S back! A month that starts in opening-day horror ends in last-day relief as Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Towell just beats the loan transfer deadline to come back to South Yorkshire for another year.

Richie Towell

Rotherham put the 5-1 mauling at Brentford in their first match back in the second tier behind them as home wins over Ipswich and Millwall steady the ship.

Queens Park Rangers midfield man Ryan Manning also agrees a season-long loan.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Quote: “I asked the gaffer to bring me back here within hours of us winning at Wembley. We were at the party at the Hilton Hotel. He said he'd do what he could.” Towell has only one destination in mind despite interest from several other clubs.

Results: Brentford A 1-5, Ipswich H 1-0, Wigan H (EFL Cup) 3-1, Leeds A 0-2, Hull H 2-3, Millwall H 1-0, Everton A (EFL Cup) 1-3.


THE bigger they are, the harder they fall.

Derby County are beaten at New York by a Ryan Manning penalty and manager Frank Lampard watches from the West Stand after being sent off for arguing with the fourth official.

Stoke City, after a decade in the Premier League, can't beat the Millers either and Warne's men are staying clear of the relegation zone.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Quote: “It was frustrating. Rotherham played well and deserved to win the game.” A touch of class from Lampard that was lacking during the game.

Results: Wigan A 0-1, Derby H 1-0, Aston Villa A 0-2, Nottingham Forest A 0-1, Stoke H 2-2.


ALONG with fellow centre-forward Jamie Proctor, Smith signs a new long-term contract.

Warne uses the lack of Rotherham coverage in the Middlesbrough matchday programme to fire up his players and a first away point of the season duly comes against Tony Pulis' promotion contenders.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Millers are brave and brilliant at the Riverside and could have won. Williams, despite months of being one of Rotherham's top performers, misses a sitter, an even easier opportunity than the one he'd messed up at Leeds in August.

Quote: “To be honest, you could put jam and cream on dog-dirt and it's going to taste okay, innit?” Warne discusses the merit of scones. It's not always football talk at the boss's press conferences.

Results: Bristol C H 0-0, Birmingham A 1-3, Bolton H 1-1, Middlesbrough A 0-0, Preston A 1-1.


TWO late Ryan Manning penalties turn the home match against Swansea City on its head and Rotherham win 2-1.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Proctor leaves it even later in the derby with Sheffield United, emerging from the bench and sending New York into raptures by scoring a stoppage-time equaliser in a 2-2 draw with his first and only touch.

The Millers go unbeaten throughout November and Warne is nominated for the Sky Bet Manager of the Month award.

Quote: “The Rotherham United lads link arms and I picture it's all of us going to war. Like the old Pals Brigades, mates all joining up together. In my head, it's me and my teammates doing that.” Vaulks describes how he feels during the minute's silence before the Remembrance Day games.

Results: Swansea H 2-1, Blackburn A 1-1, Sheffield United H 2-2, QPR H 2-2.


Hide Ad
Hide Ad

THE Norfolk-born Millers manager stands alone, lost in contemplation, on the pitch at Norwich City after the final whistle. 

Many years ago, dad Russell had taken Warne to his first ever Canaries match. Now, Russell is too ill to watch his son manage a team at Carrow Road.

Smith does it again, racing away from the Sheffield Wednesday defence and burying his shot in a 2-2 derby draw at Hillsborough. Not for the first time, a Championship defence can't handle him.

Too many draws, not enough wins, but hardly any defeats. Rotherham are going well. Only high-flying Norwich and West Brom have found a way to beat them since early October and the bond between boss, team and fans is stronger than it’s ever been.

Ryan Williams

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The weather turns and it's like Oldham in January and Northampton in March. Williams wears gloves against Reading. He continues to wait for his next goal.

The Chairman's Ball comes and goes. There continues to be no sign of the manager at the bar.

Quote: “Championship defenders look at Smithy and think: 'What are you doing? Stop trying so hard.'” Cost-conscious Warne appreciates the bargain of 2018 ... safe in the knowledge he'll reach December's pay day.

Results: Norwich A 1-3, Sheffield Wednesday A 1-1, Reading H 1-1, West Brom H 0-4. Still to come: Bolton A, Bristol C A.

A version of this feature first appeared in last week's Advertiser