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Rotherham: Grounds for Celebration or complaint?


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Mark Mitchener takes a historical look at Bournemouth’s previous visits to particular away venues. Have they been happy hunting grounds – or fortresses the Cherries have failed to conquer? 


CHERRIES RECORD AT MILLMOOR – Played 17, Won 4, Drawn 3, Lost 10, Goals for 17, Goals against 29

CHERRIES RECORD AT DON VALLEY STADIUM – Played 2, Won 1, Drawn 0, Lost 1, Goals for 3, Goals against 2

CHERRIES RECORD AT NEW YORK STADIUM – Played 3, Won 2, Drawn 1, Lost 0, Goals for 9, Goals against 3

Rotherham are the rare example – along with Bristol Rovers and Brighton – of a club that Bournemouth have visited for Football League matches at three different grounds. 

They were originally founded as Thornhill Football Club, but were not always the pre-eminent side in the area, as local rivals Rotherham Town had played in the embryonic Football League between 1893 and 1896. But Thornhill were soon on the rise, changing their name to Rotherham County in 1905, moving to their long-standing Millmoor home in 1907 and joining the Second Division of the Football League in 1920. 

Within five years, the town’s two clubs had merged under the name Rotherham United, competing in the Third Division (North) where they were to spend the best part of three decades. A title success in 1951 meant 17 seasons were then spent in the Second Division – with the result that the Millers did not meet Bournemouth until they were relegated to the Third in 1968. 

Ken Pound became the first Cherries player to score at Millmoor in a 1-1 draw in October 1968, and it took Bournemouth four visits to record a victory there – with an overwhelming 7-2 success in October 1972 (see “Classic Matches” below). 

The sides then contrived to be in different divisions for a decade before Millmoor became a bogey ground for Bournemouth for a spell, with four defeats and a draw in the third tier under Harry Redknapp’s management. 

Away wins were often hard to come by under Redknapp’s successor Tony Pulis, but he enjoyed back-to-back 2-1 wins at Rotherham in his two years as boss. However, the next trip to Millmoor was memorable for the wrong reasons. 

After sacking Pulis, Bournemouth had lost their first two games of 1994/95 under caretaker boss John Williams, who was picking the team along with captain Mark Morris and player/physio Sean O’Driscoll. And there was more punishment to take at Millmoor as Rotherham romped to a 4-0 win, Cherries defender Alex Watson was sent off, forcing Steve Fletcher to play at centre-half for the first time in his career (but not the last time that season), and the game was rounded off by a spectacular bullet-header own goal by skipper Morris past his own keeper Neil Moss – which found its way onto a “Own Goals and Gaffes” video hosted by Danny Baker (who described it as “a defender shot out of a cannon”). 

Rotherham continued to dominate the Cherries in South Yorkshire, with two 1-0 home wins in 1996, before a 3-1 victory over a Bournemouth side wearing Rotherham’s away shirts (see “Getting Shirty” below) in 2001. 

There was a “St Valentine’s Day massacre” on 14 February 2006 was described by Sean O’Driscoll as “probably the worst performance in my time as manager – you name it, it went wrong.” His injury-hit side lost Shaun Cooper to an Achilles problem early on, while the score was only kept down to 2-0 as Rotherham missed two second-half penalties.  

However, a rare 2-0 success under Kevin Bond the following season turned out to be Bournemouth’s 17th and last visit there. Rotherham had suffered financial problems for much of the 2000s, and in 2008 they left Millmoor after more than 100 years following a dispute with the ground’s owner, former Millers chairman Ken Booth. 

Although required by the Football League to return to Rotherham within four years, the Millers decamped to Sheffield between 2008 and 2012, playing at the Don Valley Stadium, which at the time was one of the UK’s leading athletics venues. 

Both sides began the 2008/09 League Two season on minus 17 points, but Rotherham were well clear of trouble by the time they beat Bournemouth 1-0 at Don Valley in January 2009. It was Eddie Howe’s second game as caretaker manager – but he was given the job permanently despite losing both matches as caretaker. 

On a cold Tuesday night 13 months later, the Millers took a first-half lead but Bournemouth bounced back to win 3-1 with Danny Hollands scoring twice, to avenge the red card he had been shown at Don Valley the previous season. 

The Millers returned to Rotherham in 2012 with the opening of the New York Stadium on the site of a former foundry. Bournemouth visited twice in the space of a fortnight in January 2015 – first in the FA Cup, when the Cherries ran out 5-1 winners. A fortnight later, an almost entirely different Cherries XI won 2-0 in the Championship, with Steve Cook the only visiting player to start both games. 

Bournemouth made a third visit to the ground, now known as the AESSEAL New York Stadium for sponsorship purposes, earlier this season when the sides drew 2-2 in late November. 


Brian Clark’s four-goal haul in 1972 (see “Classic Matches” below) easily makes him Bournemouth’s top scorer at Rotherham – with Alan Groves, David Puckett and James Hayter all netting twice at Millmoor, Danny Hollands bagging a brace at Don Valley, while Junior Stanislas and Yann Kermorgant have both netted more than once at New York Stadium. So good, they scored there twice. 


Rotherham’s decision in 2000/01 to produce a home shirt which was predominantly white on the front, and predominantly red on the back, caused a few problems that season. 

And when the Cherries arrived in March 2001, neither their red and black home shirts, nor their white away shirts, were acceptable – so they wore a set of Rotherham’s sky blue away shirts, with Millers players’ names and numbers on the back. 

The numbers did not all correspond with those on Bournemouth’s black shorts, so all in all it was a confusing night, though James Hayter (squad number 14) became the first Cherries player to score a goal in a Rotherham number 16 shirt.


Defender Bobby Howe made his Bournemouth debut at Millmoor in January 1972, as did Alan Groves later that year (see “Classic Matches” below) in a game where Ian Gibson made his first starting appearance. Another debutant was on-loan Wimbledon left-back Justin Skinner in 1994. 

Meanwhile, the trip to Millmoor in April 1986 was John Beck’s last Cherries appearance, and Tony White’s one and only outing in a Bournemouth shirt. The following season, player-coach Keith Williams made his 102nd and final league appearance at Rotherham, and fellow coach Roger Brown was pressed into service as substitute for his 177th and last Cherries outing. Midfielder James Rowe made his final appearance there in 2006. 

In 2009, caretaker boss Eddie Howe gave debuts to three loanees – David Button, Rhoys Wiggins and Jake Thomson – in Bournemouth’s first game at Don Valley. 

As for the New York Stadium, Harry Cornick made his sole first-team appearance there as a substitute in the FA Cup, while goalkeeper Lee Camp made his final Cherries league appearance a fortnight later.


Tuesday 10 October 1972 – Division Three (old) 

Rotherham United 2-7 Bournemouth 

In 1971/72, Bournemouth had just missed out on promotion, finishing third behind Aston Villa and Brighton at a time when only two teams were promoted from the old Third Division. 

But their success had not gone unnoticed – and after nine games of the 1972/73 season, star striker Ted MacDougall had been sold to Manchester United. His replacement was Brian Clark, signed from Cardiff in a joint £100,000 deal with midfielder Ian Gibson, and both had debuted in a 1-1 home draw with Tranmere. 

Three days later, the Cherries headed to Rotherham with another new signing, winger Alan Groves from Shrewsbury, and his debut at Millmoor was a match to remember for all sorts of reasons. 

Carl Gilbert put the Millers ahead after five minutes – but eight minutes later, the game was to be irrevocably changed when Clark equalised, but home goalkeeper Jim McDonagh was injured attempting to keep the ball out of the net. While he tried to carry on playing, twice receiving attention from the trainer, he was forced to leave the field and was taken to hospital with concussion. 

This was long before the days of nine, seven, five or even two substitutes – only one replacement was permitted. So Paddy Buckley, a midfielder, replaced McDonagh, with goalscorer Gilbert taking over in goal. 

That was the cue for Bournemouth to press home their advantage, with Groves netting a debut goal and Clark lobbing in a third to make it 3-1 to the visitors by half-time. 

Groves added his second soon after the break. Trailing 4-1, Rotherham reshuffled, bringing Gilbert out of goal and putting left-back Mick Leng between the posts. But the goals continued to flow as Clark completed his hat-trick – with the rare feat of having done so against three different goalkeepers. 

Rotherham, to their credit, never gave up, and pulled the scoreline back to 5-2 with a penalty after Micky Cave was adjudged to have handled. Freed of his goalkeeping responsibilities, Gilbert made no mistake to score his and Rotherham’s second. 

But the Cherries ruthlessly took advantage of there still being an outfield player in goal, as Leng was beaten twice by swift counter-attacks, with Cave making it 6-2 and Clark completing the rout with a volley, his fourth goal of the game. 

“Rotherham were unfortunate about their goalkeeper, but no goalkeeper would have stopped these lads the way they were playing,” enthused Bournemouth manager John Bond. 

“Alan Groves had a great debut and created havoc, and Brian Clark was in the right place every time. I have always maintained that some team would suffer once we got going, and this was it.” 

It was a new record away league win for Bournemouth – ahead of the 5-0 success at Mansfield a year earlier – and would remain a record until the 8-0 success at Birmingham in 2014. 

Cherries: Davies, Miller, Powell, Gabriel, Jones, Cave, Redknapp, Clark, Boyer, Gibson, Groves. Sub not used: Benson. 


Aside from the 7-2, Millmoor was mostly a ground for complaint, but after two mixed results at Don Valley, the New York Stadium has – so far – been a ground for celebration. 

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