2019/20: An Incredible Journey. Match Day 11 – Saturday 21 September 2019: Rotherham United v Shrewsbury Town

Subbuteo team chart

A return to my football journey after missing out on a game last Saturday. Today a trip to South Yorkshire and Rotherham United, which is less than thirty miles from Huddersfield.

Strangely, I first got interested in the Millers through Subbuteo. As a kid, I used to get catalogues advertising their products which had a sheet which detailed which teams were represented by the kits the miniature figures wore. The red shirt with white sleeves, white shorts, and white stockings (as they were called in the day) represented Arsenal, Rotherham United, St Patricks Athletic, HVC Amersfoort and VVV from the Netherlands and Reims from France.

My favourite Rotherham story, and always reminds me of the Arctic Monkeys lyric “you’re not from New York City you’re from Rotherham” on the track, Fake Tales of San Francisco. Anyway, I was in Prague for a week, my mate Neil and I had decided to take our holiday to coincide with a stag-do for another friend. They were there for the weekend, we spent the week there. Absolutely great time. One of the nights me and Neil had ended up in this nightclub and speaking to some lads from England. As the drinks and conversation flowed, we got onto the serious questions of what team do you support. Neil supports Liverpool, is Scouse through and through and comes from the Wirral. The other two lads were both Sheffield Wednesday supporters. One of them got a bit uppity and insisted the Neil was a glory hunter and should be a Tranmere Rovers supporter because he was from the Wirral, of course I got some of the flack but then it’s a bit difficult supporting a Singapore side. It all got a bit heated but then as usually happens it swings one of two ways. I think the moment that broke the tension was when Neil asked the vociferous lad, with the proudly displayed Sheffield Wednesday tattoos which part of Sheffield he was from, “Rotherham” was his response, oh we laughed for ages and ages, but to this day I still think that he was being serious!


Back to the game and another goose bump inducing walk to the stadium – another new ground for me and included going past Millmoor. It’s quite strange in that the stadium is pretty much still intact. It was first home to Rotherham County FC between 1907 and 1925, with the Millers taking up residency when Rotherham United were formed with the merging of County and Rotherham Town. United moved out in 2008, and after playing at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield moved to their current home, the New York Stadium in 2012.

View to South Stand

I opted for a seat with the home fans in the North Stand on what was a balmy Autumnal afternoon. The Millers wore red and white, but not in that distinctive way that the Subbuteo kit of my youth was, and as is the modern way despite Shrewsbury’s traditional blue and yellow kit not clashing with the home team, opted for their all-purple second strip. Coming into the game Rotherham were in 14th in League One, having played seven, won three, drawn two and lost two, for a total of eleven points and had scored six in their last home game against Bolton. The Shrews were just one spot above their hosts and from their eight outings, had a record of three wins, three draws and two loses, and twelve points.

In all honestly the ninety minutes was fairly forgettable, with neither ‘keeper required to make a serious save and incidents of any real note were few and far between. Perhaps the pleasant September sun had becalmed the players, and as a result the game finished 0-0.


Saturday 21 September 2019

Sky Bet League One

Rotherham United 0 Shrewsbury Town 0

Venue: ASSEAL New York Stadium

Attendance: 8,380

Rotherham United – Iversen, Jones, Mattock, Wiles, Ladapo (Smith 67’), Morris, Robertson, Lindsay, Crooks, Ihiekwe, Hastie (MacDonald 83’).

Unused substitutes: Price, Wood, Barlaser, Lamy, Cooper.

Shrewsbury Town – O’Leary, Williams, Beckles, Whalley (Walker 90’), Norburn, Lang (Cummings 74’), Giles, Love, Goss, Ebanks-Landell, Laurent (Edwards 86’).

Unused substitutes: Agius, Golbourne, Vincelot, Udoh.


Steve Blighton

Book Review: Walking in a Welsh Wonderland by Holly Hunt

The 2016/17 FA Cup competition will begin on Saturday 06 August 2016, a fact that will come as a great surprise to those fans within the game who only acknowledge its existence come the Third Round in January.

However, the reality is that a week before a ball is kicked at the start of the new Premier League season, 184 ties will take place in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round. It will see teams with wondrous names such as Ashby Ivanhoe, Northampton Old Northamptonian Chenecks and Tadley Calleva, grace the oldest Cup competition in the world. They know that they won’t make it all the way to the Final at Wembley, but it is a competition that can provide tidy financial assistance from a ‘Cup Run’, as well as throw up some ‘Cup Magic’ and ‘Cup Upsets’ along the way.

In Walking in a Welsh Wonderland, Holly Hunt, Media Assistant at Gainsborough Trinity, details the FA Cup adventure of the club during the 2015/16 season. It is set over thirteen chapters, with a Foreword by Neil Warnock, who cut his managerial teeth at Trinity back in the early 1980s.

The opening chapter is an observational one on the 2015/16 FA Cup competition, highlighting the importance of the tournament to non-league and lower league professional clubs alike, and also details how a number of teams higher-up the food chain have come to devalue it.

Central to the book though are the chapters devoted to the round-by-round progress of Trinity. Here the reader is treated to details of the Lincolnshire ‘derby’ in the Second Qualifying Round at home against Boston United, a dramatic Third Qualifying Round tie away at Droylsden, the backs to the wall victory at Wrexham in the Fourth Qualifying Round (which is the inspiration for the book title) and the brave exit in the First Round at home to League One Shrewsbury Town.

Given that Hunt works in the media for the club, the familiarity with the club, its players and management translates easily in her writing. However, as with many self-published books, it would have benefited from some editing and proof-reading in places.

This though doesn’t detract from a book which has so much going for it. The match details are well supported by some excellent colour action shots and other chapters which reflect on the adventure Trinity enjoyed. One such looks at how the club invested the prize money from the ‘Cup Run’ and another on What could have been, in which Hunt nicely and neatly ties up Gainsborough’s part in the FA Cup with that of eventual winners Manchester United, the link being that Trinity’s First Round conquerors, Shrewsbury Town, were defeated by the Old Trafford club in the Fifth Round.

It is then all rounded off with a cracking facts and figures summary of the FA Cup games Trinity played, in which Hunt includes amongst other things, The Story told by Twitter, Players of the Competition and Goal of the Competition.

Of course this book is aimed at supporters of Gainsborough Trinity, but will be an interesting read for anyone wanting an insight into what the FA Cup can mean to non-league and lower league professional clubs.

Copies can be bought by contacting the club through its website: www.gainsboroughtrinity.com


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2012/13: (Capital One) League Cup 1st Round – Leeds United v Shrewsbury Town

Saturday 11 August 2012 (10:00)

For clubs, managers, players and fans alike the Football League Cup has always been the ‘ugly-sister’ of the domestic cup competitions. Whilst the FA Cup can boast a history stretching back to the 1871/72 season, the League Cup is a young whippersnapper having only come into play in the 1960/61 football calendar. This is the 53rd season of the competition which has new sponsors and is to be known as the Capital One Cup (or rather unfortunately COC).

Later today I’m off to Elland Round to watch a First Round game between Leeds United and Shrewsbury Town, but my mind is drawn back to the first League Cup tie I saw forty years ago in August 1972. The game was at Craven Cottage as Fulham took on Reading. At that time, the League Cup was not sponsored and as with the FA Cup, back then, there was no limit on replays. The game, which took place on 23 August, was in fact a First Round replay, as the original game at Reading ended in a draw. If I’m honest I remember very little about the game, other than it also ended 1-1.

Five days later on the Bank Holiday Monday, I went with my dad to the  Second Replay at Elm Park when Fulham won 1-0 with a goal from Barry Lloyd. My abiding memory? Strangely, it was of the terrace roof which was in need of some repair. On any occasion on which the ball landed on the roof, those below were showered with a rusty deposit and lead to the christening of ‘The Royals’ as ‘rusty Reading’ by my dad.

The League Cup also holds a sentimental memory for me in relation to another First Round game. This one took place on 27 August 1991. By then the League Cup was sponsored by Rumbelows and the First Round fixtures were played over two-legs. Fulham hadn’t quite hit the low-point that the early nineties brought to SW6, but it was a club in decline, with Craven Cottage in a sorry state. In the First Leg, the Whites had gone down 4-2 to an exiled Charlton Athletic who were playing at Upton Park, so it was more in hope than expectation that I joined a crowd of 3,543 for the Second Leg encounter. Fulham battled but a 1-1 draw meant an aggregate loss of 5-3.

However, the real significance of this game was that it was the last game I saw at the Cottage before moving to Leeds in September 1991. As I watched the game that evening, I tried to take in the views and all the quirky nooks and crannies that this patch of West London had to offer and commit it to memory…because I didn’t know when I’d next return. Like the team, the ground was in a desperate state, but despite that, it was home, it was were my beloved Whites played and I had spent 19 years going week-in, week-out. That night it may have been an inconsequential League Cup game, but for me it is one that will always have meaning.


Prior to today Leeds and Shrewsbury had never met in the League Cup, although there was one FA Cup fixture between the clubs back in the 1964/65 season. It was an Fifth Round tie that took place at Elland Road and ended in a 2-0 win for the home team. Leeds went on to reach the Final before losing 2-1 to Liverpool. Would today be the start of a Cup run for the Yorkshire side that would see them end up at Wembley?

It had been another strange week for Leeds, as on Thursday it was announced that the planned investment/takeover (delete as appropriate), was now off. It sparked unsurprisingly a massive reaction on the various Leeds United websites and blogs, with all sorts of rumours and speculation. However, by this morning it was reported that a deal was back on. So the saga continues.

Leeds warm-up prior to kick-off

Elland Road was bathed in sunshine as a crowd of just over 18,000 gathered to witness a reshaped Leeds United team. As the players warned up, another signing was introduced to the fans, that of El Hadji Diouf and it brought a very mixed reaction. Neil Warnock has rebuilt this squad and so it is very much his team, with the Grayson side pretty much dismantled.

However as the game kicked-off it was the visitors who looked the better balanced team in the opening exchanges. Shrewsbury had the first shot on target just three minutes into the game from Mark Wright, which was held by Kenny in goal for Leeds. The Shrews neat passing and build-up also lead to two other good chances in the opening fifteen minutes for Paul Parry and Jermaine Grandison, but both were off target. Leeds were struggling to get into the game, but all this turned around in a six minute period. First on twenty minutes, Jamaican international Rodolph Austin unleashed a shot which Town keeper Chris Weale could only parry, as the defence tried to clear Luciano Becchio was quickest to react and tucked the ball away to give Leeds a lead they hardy deserved. Shrewsbury responded with a well-worked effort from Marvin Morgan which was saved and held by Kenny. However, on twenty six minutes, Shrewsbury again contributed to their own downfall with poor defensive work which allowed Ross McCormack through on goal, who was able to square for Luke Varney to put into an empty net. Instead of being 2-0 up, Shrewsbury were stunned to find themselves 2-0 down. Leeds with the cushion at last started to dominate and play with some confidence and Becchio was unlucky with a header just after the half-hour mark. In the last ten minutes the game lost shape and a number of free-kicks were conceded by both teams. Half-time 2-0 to Leeds and perhaps rather fortunately so.


Shrewsbury free-kick

Into the second-half, the 1,000 or so Shrewsbury fans tried to get behind their team. However the opening fifteen minutes brought no reward for Town as Leeds were more comfortable in possession. On the hour though, Kenny spilled a Parry shot which fell to Marvin Morgan who somehow put it over the bar, although it wouldn’t have counted anyway as the flag was up for offside. Leeds upped the tempo and just as they had in the first half struck twice in quick succession to completely kill off the game. On sixty five minutes Luke Varney rose high to head the ball down for David Norris whose scuffed effort somehow found its way into the net. Five minutes later Michael Hector was adjudged to have handled as Paul Green lifted the ball over the defender. McCormack coolly finished from the spot and Leeds were cruising at 4-0. With the game safe and fifteen minutes to go Neil Warnock changed things around with a double substitution, with Dominic Poleon replacing  Paul Green and El-Hadji Diouf on for Ross McCormack. Diouf had a mixed reception and there boos from the stands whenever he touched the ball. Graham Turner rang the changes for the Shrews as well, but he knew it wasn’t going to be his day when a late effort from Morgan was clearly pushed round the post by Kenny, only for the referee to award a goal-kick.

4-0 to Leeds at the whistle, but in all honesty, that was a flattering score-line. Whilst not denying that United were the better team over the ninety minutes and had taken their chances well, the opening twenty minutes were a very bumpy ride for Leeds. The team is undoubtedly still bedding in, but nobody should be fooled that this was a perfect display. Kenny, whilst comfortable with his shot-stopping, also gave evidence (with the spill in the second-half and his flapping at corners), that he will cost Leeds points this season. Peltier looked the pick of the back four, whilst Austin looked solid enough. For many of the others, they only really came into the game once Leeds had the two goal advantage. Shrewsbury played some nice football and looked useful in midfield and going forward, however at the back they were far from convincing and that will be a worry for manager Graham Turner.

“…Que sera, sera, whatever will be will be…we’re going to Wem-ber-lee…que sera, sera…” sang a group of fans behind me as we exited the ground. Don’t you just love the optimism at the start of a season. Football is back…