Lincoln will travel to Rotherham in the League Cup after a farcical non-event of a draw from Thailand.
With energy drink sponsor Carabao coming from Thailand, the ingenious idea was to head over there to make the draw. I can’t imagine a whole host of people at the EFL thinking that would be a waste of money, can you? Anyway, the draw was made in front of a live Facebook feed, a feed that had no sound. Shortly afterwards it had no picture either, and before proceedings were completed Charlton Athletic had been drawn out twice. Tough first round.
Once the Benny Hill theme tune had stopped playing, and the EFL had decided never to take such a low-key cup draw abroad, City had ended up with a tricky away tie at Rotherham. It might just have been written in the stars, our last Football League only competition match was also against the Millers, in the JPT back in August 2010.
So is it a tough draw? If history is anything to go by them I’m afraid it is. The last time Lincoln City beat Rotherham in a competitive match was the opening day of the 1999/00 season when goals from Lee Philpott and Terry Fleming gave us a 2-1 win. Paul Warne scored for the Millers after coming on as a sub, and it is Warne who manages the current side.
Very few people will have fond memories of clashes with Rotherham this century. The pain of our last meeting still scars me today, they won 6-0 at Sincil Bank as we plummeted towards relegation. That night it wasn’t just men against boys, it was men against half-hearted boys with no courage. For me, that was my worst night ever at Sincil Bank, worse than any defeats inflicted in the BSP.
Our record against them is appalling, Three defeats in 2010/11, one of those in the JPT thanks to an Adam Le Fondre goal. In 2009/10 it was two defeats as well, 2-1 at Sincil Bank and 2-0 at the Don Valley Stadium, with Le Fondre grabbing three of the four goals.
In 2008/09 Rotherham was our opening game of the season, our first chance to watch that Magnificent seven in action. Reuben Reid scored the only goal of the game, and Mickey Cummings did the same seven months later to register two 1-0 wins.
It just gets worse the more we go back. In 2007/08 we lost 3-1 at home thanks to a Derek Holmes hat trick, and 3-2 away after Mark Stallard was sent off.
That takes us back to the 1999/00 season where we grabbed the win as well as a draw at Millmoor courtesy of Paul Smith, a game refereed by a Mr George Cain who went on to make a bit of an enemy of the City fans. That win was our first since the 1978/79 season, in itself a terrible season in which we were relegated. We did beat Rotherham at Sincil Bank though, 3-0 courtesy of goals from David Sunley, Glenn Cockerill and John Ward.
To find our last victory away at Rotherham you have to go back sixty year, to December 7th 1957. We won 2-0 with John Grainger and Harry Troops on the score sheet. 18 years since we beat them at all, sixty years since we did it on our travels. In almost 39 years we have beaten them twice, despite playing them 25 times.
They’ve even featured in a list of teams to beat us in the cups. In 2010 they knocked us out the JPT as I’ve mentioned, but in 1973/74 they also knocked us out of the League Cup, beating us 2-1 at Millmoor. The year after we drew them again, Sam Ellis earned us a 1-1 draw and a replay at Sincil Bank. Eight days later the replay was also drawn, a gruelling 120 minutes of action failed to find a winner with Dave Smith giving us our goal in another 1-1 draw. Five days after that we played them for a third time back at Millmoor, Sam Ellis again scoring but this time Rotherham managed to bag two. Four days after that we were back at Millmoor in the league, drawing 2-2 courtesy of Dave Smith and John Ward. We played them four times in 17 days and still couldn’t get a win! We did win the home tie on March 22nd, 2-0 in front of 8,000.
That makes them a real bogey team, but there are plenty of reasons why this could be different. The main two are Danny and his brother Nicky, two men who will not under-estimate Rotherham and who will have them scouted even at that early stage of the season. They’ve already stated their desire to have another cup run, and given our performance in cups last year you wouldn’t bet against them.
There’s also the new ground, perhaps more conducive to a spirited away performance than the hell-hole of the Don Valley stadium. Millmoor was always regarded as a tough place to visit, perhaps something evident in our record there. It will be a new ground for us all to visit having opened in 2012, after our relegation.
It will make for an interesting visit as well, with a 12,000 capacity it will perhaps give us some insight into what our new stadium might consist of. Despite the appalling record between us, we are teams of a similar size and certainly any potential we have can always be measured against the success of Rotherham, as well as Burton, Scunthorpe and Yeovil. These are teams no bigger than us that have enjoyed life in the second tier, whilst we have languished with the part-time teams.
Closer to the time I’ll look at their tactics and signings, but perhaps the main player of note at this stage is former Imps hero Lee Frecklington. If memory serves me correctly, Lee hasn’t had to face his home club before, and doubtless it will be a grand occasion for him if he makes their starting line up. Hopefully we can do our best to make sure it isn’t a happy occasion too.
The draw might not look great on paper, but it will give us a super chance to rewrite history early into the next campaign. Rotherham United are without a doubt our bogey side, a team synonymous with cup exits, away defeats and ultimately that humiliation in March 2011. This August, as early as possible, we get a chance to redress the balance somewhat.