The Dean Hall column: So much Millers progress since Wembley 1996

Wembley 1996

Wembley 1996

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It seems fitting that we’re on the brink of Championship survival for a second season in the week that marks the 20th anniversary of the Millers’ first Wembley triumph.

A side struggling for league form took to the field against Shrewsbury Town that afternoon in the Auto Windscreens Shield Final and, as a 13-year-old lad who was buzzing for his first trip down to London, the 2-1 victory on that mid-April afternoon still lives fondly in the memory.

Victory at stadiummk

Victory at stadiummk

John Breckin hosts some of the returning 1996 heroes in the New York Stadium executive area tomorrow, with names such as Matt Clarke, goalscorer Nigel Jemson, Andy Roscoe and Darren Garner all making a return for the afternoon.

No doubt many a memory will be shared between players and fans, and the great thing about these occasions is that each individual recalls a different moment that made the day special.

Sometimes you have to pinch yourself as a reminder to how far we’ve come since those days to the present (and how far we dropped back in between!). Tomorrow we welcome Nottingham Forest, who arrive to another near-sold-out crowd yet above us only on goal difference. A Millers win, coupled with a defeat for MK Dons, would 99% guarantee survival for another year against all the odds, with only the mathematics of a big goal swing in the way.

Last week’s 4-0 win at stadiummk wasn’t just a routine victory. To me, it sent out a message to the clubs around us that we mean business going into the final weeks of the campaign. I think it’s important to the fans, as well as manager Neil Warnock, his staff and players, that we try to finish strongly, secure our place in the division and send everyone off with positive summer vibes.

Dean Hall

Dean Hall

Certain players are playing for their contracts and futures, but what will become of Sir Neil and his coaching staff? A lot of fans clearly want the current regime to remain with the club next season, but much will depend on Warnock’s personal life - the health of his wife and the possibility of uprooting his family again from Cornwall - as to whether he shows any interest in a potential new deal.

For now, though, it’s Forest then Huddersfield Town at home. I’m sure we’re all hoping for a positive end to what has been a testing season at times, but one that might finish with some bright light at the end of the tunnel.

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