Rotherham and New York. Difficult to think of two places on planet Earth separated by a bigger chasm in terms of an irresistible magnetic draw for those seeking thrills and spills on a sunny spring day.
Yet it will be to the exotically named stadium in South Yorkshire that 2000 or so hopeful and expectant Canary devotees will be heading on Saturday for the latest instalment in the automatic promotion saga to end all automatic promotion sagas.
If you are one of those making the trip, you will be taking your place in the Morrison stand while the home supporters nestle down in the glamorously titled KCM Recycling and Eric Twigg Pukka Pies stands. Still, at least they don’t have an eyesore of a hotel in one of the corners.
In 2012 the good folk of Rotherham were honoured to have their spiritual home officially opened by a minor Royal, the Duke of Kent. Good for them but us Norfolk folk can claim to have a major Royal residence and Kate and William settling down in our county – so 2-0 to us already if you’re patriotically inclined.
No doubt, the home to the Millers is a neat and friendly ground, although they’re probably still sweeping up after the visit of fellow strugglers Millwall when things ‘kicked off’ a bit on the terraces.
Their side sits just four points and a game in hand above the zone of death, currently occupied by Millwall, Wigan and Blackpool.
While it may appear a comfy cushion, a decision is still to be made regarding their fielding of an ineligible player with a possible three point deduction as a reward. As a result Steve Evans and his boys will be fully prepared to give it 100 per cent and leave nothing out on the pitch except blood, sweat and tears. Hopefully the latter.
City’s visits to Yorkshire of late have been reasonably productive after seeing off the car crash that is Leeds and squeaking out the squeakiest of points at Huddersfield with that 98th(!) minute ‘face-saver’ from Jamar Loza.
Of course, City’s away form since January has been nothing short of sensational ever since plucking the Cherries unbeaten run off them on the South Coast, which was day one of the Alex Neil epoch.
As we go looking for nothing less than three points in Rotherham, we have nothing to fear but fear itself (I may have borrowed that off someone else).
The opponents have lost six of their last ten games and lost three of their last four at home – to Cardiff, Wigan and Wednesday. Encouraging signs indeed for those travelling up from Norfolk. A draw or, perish the thought, defeat will be a catastrophic end to any sniff of the top two prizes.
Gary very bravely put his neck on the line yesterday and managed to come up with a sequence of results for the current top four teams that had us coming out in top spot. You have to admire his glass-half-full optimism but I would be prepared to have a wee bet with him that the fates will not be so kind.
Like most, including the fiery Scot who we have all put our faith in, I suspect that Watford’s firepower and Bournemouth’s goal-difference will see them over the line after the final whistle is blown on the regular season.
However, in true cliché fashion, the players and the fans have to take it one game at a time and focus on the job at hand – namely Rotherham. What a kick in the proverbials it will be if our promotion rivals’ opponents do conspire to take points off them in a Gowers-style and yet we suffer the unthinkable defeat.
I’m quietly confident that the good travelling folk of Norwich will come back home smiling. With pretty much a fully fit squad at his disposal, Neil has options galore of an attacking nature to secure that vital win and keep things boiling for the visit of Fulham.
If somehow, we do get a top 2 finish, then I’ll treat myself to a trip to New York – and I don’t mean Rotherham.
Gary Field says
What had all the makings for a promotion party could now see, heavens forbid, confirmation that the automatics have gone.
To be honest, we can only concentrate on our own results and anything other than the play offs will be an unexpected bonus.
I believe Rotherham will learn their fate today on a possible points deduction, all of which adds to the mix for a potentially difficult afternoon in South Yorkshire.
Stewart Lewis says
No praise is too high for the travelling Yellow Army this year, with every away trip a tortuous journey.
Getting to the New York stadium is no exception. Still, if we can make it there…
Russell S. says
*Update – and lo, the ludicrously heavy-handed 3 point deduction is a reality. Plus a fine and the costs to cover those poor FL officials having to sit in a room and issue forth their petty decree. It may be the rules but a bit of common sense at football HQ wouldn’t have gone amiss.
My sympathies to Rotherham. Could well put more fire in their bellies tomorrow although by the looks of Steve Evans’s, that might not be advisable.
Stewart Lewis says
Russ (3): you and I often agree (if only on puns), but apparently not this time.
It’s surely about precedent. If you let Rotherham keep their points from a key game (in this case beating relegation rivals Brighton 1-0) in which they fielded an ineligible player, how can you clamp down on another club which does the same, perhaps less innocently?
The rule is important and clear. To breach it is, as best, appalling incompetence.
Would you be as relaxed if Watford had ‘overlooked’ the rule and won three points with an illegal player?