Tony Stewart and Steve Evans on the reason for their Rotherham United split back in 2015

Steve Evans and Tony Stewart together again at Rotherham United. Picture: Kerrie BeddowsSteve Evans and Tony Stewart together again at Rotherham United. Picture: Kerrie Beddows
Steve Evans and Tony Stewart together again at Rotherham United. Picture: Kerrie Beddows
THE two men behind one of the most memorable periods in Rotherham United's history have finally revealed why they parted company nearly a decade ago after more than three success-filled years together.

With Steve Evans as manager and Stewart as chairman, the Millers won back-to-back promotions and were in their second successive season in the Championship when the split came.

Rumours of a clash have since abounded, but the pair are adamant that the farewell was amicable and that they went their separate ways only because of a disagreement over the approach to signing players.

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“We just had a different opinion in terms of where we were going in terms of recruitment,” said Evans who has just returned with number two Paul Raynor for a second spell in the hot-seat at AESSEAL New York Stadium.

Steve Evans and Tony Stewart together again at Rotherham United. Picture: Kerrie BeddowsSteve Evans and Tony Stewart together again at Rotherham United. Picture: Kerrie Beddows
Steve Evans and Tony Stewart together again at Rotherham United. Picture: Kerrie Beddows

Stewart confirmed: “We've always been friends. We parted as friends. It was on a technicality. We had a difference of opinion on recruitment.”

Evans signed 87 players in three and a half years during Rotherham's rise from League Two to the Championship and while they were establishing themselves in the second tier. The club wanted to ease back on the rate of new arrivals.

The Scot's last two matches at the helm brought victories, at home to Cardiff City and at Birmingham City in September 2015.

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However, he had sensed the end was coming before the Blues match and the shock announcement duly came two days after the trip to St Andrew's.

“It was leading up to that Birmingham game and we're having these conversations,” he said. “Then the chairman said: ‘Steve, I don't think it's best carrying this on.’ I said: ‘I agree.’

“I can remember discussing it with Paul and he said: ‘I think you're right, we should go in a different direction.’ There was never a fall-out. You hear this, you hear that. None of it was true. There were no cross words.”

Stewart and Evans have stayed close over the years and have met up on numerous occasions.

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The latter said: “Within a month of leaving I was manager of Leeds United and within a week of that I was having dinner with Tony Stewart!

“We spoke of our memories of our time together. I've been back as a guest in the New York boardroom many times, I've sat at his table many times.

“I've always had a fantastic relationship with the Stewart family. The chairman remained a family friend, not just to me but to my wife and daughters too.

“He turned up a few years ago to my daughter's wedding. I can't say what the present was but it was just unbelievable. I'm thinking: ‘Wow, this is a true family friend.’”

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Following Rotherham's relegation to League One, Stewart last month paid compensation to Stevenage to take Evans from the Lamex Stadium and the new man is thrilled to be back at New York.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, the happiest times of my career have been spent here,” he said. “I've been happy at a lot of places but this club is quite unique in how it grabs you.

“I'm not the first manager or player to think like this. It's where we had the most success, it's where I want to be successful again. I don't just work for Tony Stewart, I work with him.”

The chairman said: “I've always admired Steve and Paul. These are going to be exciting times. We want to get back where we need to be, which is in the Championship, as soon as possible.”

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