On Saturday 28th July 2012 I visited the New York Stadium, the new home of Rotherham United, to watch them take on SPL side Heart of Midlothian.
With it being so local to us, we had followed the building of the Millers’ new ground closely and once it was completed we knew we wanted to see a game at the New York Stadium as soon as possible.
Rotherham had played two other friendlies at the ground prior to this game, beating both Barnsley and Doncaster Rovers 2-1. However, we were more attracted to the game against Hearts for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was the first ever match open to 100% capacity at the ground, although in the end the stadium was only actually about a third full for this game. Also, Hearts were a side that neither me nor my Dad had seen play before and also it would be the first time that I had seen a Scottish club play and so we decided to pick this game as our first visit to the new stadium.
We made the short journey from Sheffield to Rotherham and the first thing we saw were the floodlights of Rotherham’s former home Millmoor. The new ground is very close to the old one and incredibly it is still in perfect condition with the pitch still being cut and ready for use despite the fact that it isn’t used for anything currently. The car park was being used for matchday parking before the game today and so we were able to walk around the outside of the old ground and take some photos.
After spending a bit of time looking at Millmoor, we made our way to the New York Stadium and from our first sight of the ground we could see how impressive it looked with a nice main entrance. Before heading through the turnstiles, we had a walk around the outside of the ground, bought a programme and went in the club shop, which had very few items in it, although I am sure this will change before the new season gets underway.
From the inside, the ground looked equally as good and the pitch was in lovely condition. I liked the design of the new ground as rather than being identical all the way around, the stands were different sizes with the main stand being around double the height of the East Stand opposite it. The floodlights were also different from anything I have seen before as they were attached to a large circular structure above the stands running down the side of the pitch. Of course the New York Stadium is far better than the Don Valley Stadium, which I visited twice during the Millers time there, and it wasn’t a good place to watch football.
The Millers got the game underway and the two sides were very evenly matched in the first half with neither creating many good chances to break the deadlock. Rotherham United began the game slightly stronger and Alex Revell came close to scoring for the home side early on but his attempt was stopped by Hearts goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald.
The Scottish side clearly wanted to win this game with it being their final friendly match and they got better as the half went on. David Templeton’s free kick from the edge of the area looked to be heading for the top corner before defender Kari Arnason nodded the ball over the crossbar while Andrew Webster came closest for Hearts in the first half when his header from close range flew just over the crossbar.
However, neither side could make their few chances count in the opening 45 minutes and as the half time whistle blew the game was goalless.
It took just 2 minutes for a goal to arrive in the second half when John Sutton, brother of former Blackburn Rovers and Celtic player Chris, converted Ryan McGowan’s low cross to give the visitors the lead.
The goal didn’t seem to affect the Millers and they nearly hit back almost immediately when Revell got on the end of a corner and his headed effort was just inches wide of the far post.
After this, the goalmouth action all but disappeared and with many substitutions being made this seemed to affect the rhythm of the game. It wasn’t until late on in the game that the home side pushed forward with real urgency in an attempt to avoid their first ever defeat at the New York Stadium.
New signing Kieran Agard broke away with just a few minutes to go but his shot from a difficult angle was easily stopped by the goalkeeper. Despite the pressure, the Millers failed to create any great chances to equalise and in the end it was the Scottish side that were victorious.
While the Millers will be disappointed to have lost, there are certainly a lot of positives to take from the match. They played one of the best teams in Scotland and matched them most of the way so it is certainly not a bad result for them by any means. Meanwhile, Hearts will be pleased with the victory as it sets them in good stead for the upcoming SPL campaign which starts on Saturday.
While the game wasn’t one of the best I have seen, I still had a great day and the new stadium is very impressive. There can’t be many better stadiums in the fourth tier of English football this season and it may even be a little better than the B2Net Stadium. Although it did cost more!
Rotherham United 0–1 Heart of Midlothian
Sutton ’47Shearer, Hunt (Mullins ’41), Bradley, Sharps, Wilson, Noble (Taylor ’57), Arnason (Ainsworth ’63), O’Connor (Rose ’46), Pringle (Evans ’63), Revell (Odejayi ’57), Nardiello (Agard ’57) MacDonald, Paterson (Grainger ’62), McHattie, Webster, Zaliukas, Barr (D McGowan ’72), Driver (Novikovas ’63), Robinson (Holt ’78), Sutton (Carrick ’74), R McGowan, Templeton (Taouil ’75) Attendance: 5,891