Spud Thornhill: My Miller’s tale ... but I am yellow and green at heart!
- Credit: PA
City travel to Yorkshire to play Rotherham United this weekend, a fixture that is close to my heart.
As I’m sure many of you may know, Rotherham are my second team – those who don’t may be thinking ‘what?’.
There is love there – but don’t worry, it’ll never be the true love – that’s the one I have for the team in yellow and green.
Before anyone starts questioning me, let me explain... back in the summer of 1987, I was a very passionate Norwich City fan who just loved the game. I was definitely eat, sleep and dream football.
I would know every manager in the Football League from Division One champions Everton’s Howard Kendall to Division Four champions Northampton Town’s Graham Carr – comedian Alan Carr’s dad. I would also know who were the main club sponsors from Arsenal’s JVC to York City’s Hansa. It was just down to my love of the game; I would watch or read any available stuff about football.
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Maybe my teacher Mr Robb was right when he said: “If only you could remember your school work like you do with football.”
Norwich had just had an amazing season where we finished fifth in the old Division One. That season we won at Arsenal and Manchester United and beat both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Carrow Road. We lost only eight times that season, the same as champions Everton. If only we had not drawn so many games.
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I was only 12 and obviously hadn’t been supporting for many years, but I had just basically had a very successful time. I honestly classed us as a big side and always believed we would be in the top flight. Little did I know what the future would hold.
At the school library, I would more often than not read football history books instead of reading any books that would help my education. Maybe Mr Robb was right.
One day in the summer of 1987, I started reading another football book ’When Rotherham were known as Thornhill United’ – that was it. With my surname I immediately had feelings for this club Rotherham United.
Instead of doing any proper school work, I took the opportunity to find out more information about this club. The more I found out, the more I was interested in them.
It then got me thinking – in my young, biased green and yellow opinion, Norwich would always be a top-flight side and with Rotherham never being in the top flight, I just thought it would be unlikely the clubs would be in same league. Little did I know years later that it would actually happen.
I then thought, ‘why can’t Rotherham be my second team?’ Especially with Rotherham being a small team and not a threat to Norwich. So, as from July 1987, I became a Rotherham fan.
Since then I have always followed the – apart from the meetings with Norwich where I have seen them play many times. In my time they have had eight promotions and seven relegation, four trips to Wembley, they went into administration in 2008 and have had a total of 37 points deducted through administration or not having a CVA agreed.
I loved going to their old home, Millmoor, with probably our 4-4 draw in 2004 the best game I watched there. It had everything. I hated the awful Don Valley Stadium they stayed at temporarily until they moved to the New York Stadium, one of the best new grounds around. And it’s even closer to the town centre with the view of Millmoor in the distance, a ground which is still standing 12 years after Rotherham left.
The best thing is the Rotherham fans I have met. Proper fans, very passionate and loyal. They know Norwich is my first love and always will be.
Some people will probably say to me ‘I suppose you want a draw!’ They soon get told ’absolutely not!’ Rotherham can win 44 games this season. Just not when they play us.
Whilst I’m watching the game I will only have eyes for one team. And that’s the one in yellow and green.