Rotherham United: New York Stadium dream as Owls old boy signs for Millers

Millers new boy Joe Mattock
Millers new boy Joe Mattock

The ground was packed, the fans were bouncing and the fevered atmosphere was everything you’d ever hope for at a South Yorkshire derby.

Rotherham United were beating Sheffield Wednesday with minutes to go, the Owls would fight back to win a crazy, unforgettable match and the hothouse that was AESSEAL New York Stadium was the perfect venue for football theatre at its absolute finest.

Mattock takes a seat at his new home

Mattock takes a seat at his new home

So when the Millers came calling for Joe Mattock a couple of months later, the former Wednesday ace thought back to that March afternoon and decided: “Yes, I’ll have some more of that.”

Mattock played in the game and, after being released by the Owls at the end of last season and joining Steve Evans’ squad last Friday, revealed: “I thought of that day when the chance came to sign for Rotherham. As a footballer, you live to play in matches and atmospheres like that.

“It’s a great stadium. Everything about it is right. I couldn’t believe it when I played there last season. It was just so nice, so modern. The place erupted when Rotherham scored and the atmosphere was just incredible. I was taken aback at how good it was, to be honest.

The left-back has penned a two-year deal with the Millers and can now admit what he truly thought about the May 21 clash that Wednesday won 3-2 with two goals in time added on.

Mattock in action at the New York derby

Mattock in action at the New York derby

“It was a tough game,” he recalled. “I thought Rotherham deserved to get something out of it. I can say that now I’ve signed for them! I thought they deserved to win, or at the very least to get a draw.

“Derbies are like that sometimes. More than in any other game, you just don’t know what will happen. Derbies are always the best games, the ones you look forward to the most. They’re the ones you grow up as a kid dreaming of playing in. The New York match was probably the most memorable day of the season.”

The 25-year-old has spent most of his career in the Championship and played 30 matches for Wednesday last season in one of the meanest defences in the division.

But the Owls decided to release him after three years, opening the door for Rotherham boss Evans to swoop.

“I was a bit surprised when Sheffield Wednesday let me go,” he said. “I’d been part of a good defence and had had a decent season. But there were two other left-backs there - Jeremy Helan and Claude Dielna, who’s a centre-half but can play full-back - on two-year contracts, so I sensed what might be coming.

“I was on holiday when my agent called and said Rotherham were interested. I thought straightaway that that would be a great move. It was key for me that they were in the Championship, When I got back, I jumped straight on to it. I had a great meeting with Steve Evans and knew where I wanted to be playing next season.”

The first dates Mattock - who once cost West Bromwich Albion £1.5 million when he joined them from Leicester City - will look for on Wednesday when next season’s fixtures are released are the two Millers/Owls showdowns,

For now, the last derby encounter is still fresh in his mind and fuelling his desire to be a success at his new club.

“I’m looking forward to that first goal going in at New York Stadium with me wearing a Rotherham shirt, whether I score it or not,” he said. “It all be an unbelievable feeling. I know from experience how passionate the Rotherham fans are.”