Rotherham United v Charlton Athletic: Shinnie is determined to avoid last-gasp escape act with Millers

WHEN it comes to Championship survival missions, Andrew Shinnie would infinitely prefer his current brief with Rotherham United to prove a lot more straightforward than his last one.

New Millers signing Andrew Shinnie.
New Millers signing Andrew Shinnie.

If it is all over bar the shouting to positive effect before the May blossom arrives, then the Scot will not be complaining.

Shinnie was part of the Birmingham City squad who produced one of the greatest acts of escapology on the final day of the 2013-14 season to somehow retain their second-tier status – at the expense of luckless Doncaster Rovers.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The date was May 3, 2014, with Birmingham miraculously rallying from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Bolton Wanderers and stay up on goal difference thanks to Paul Caddis’s ‘93rd-minute’ strike. It was a recovery of Lazarus-style proportions.

Shinnie was on the bench that fateful day as Lee Clark’s Blues adhered to the club’s anthem of ‘Keep Right On’ to survive at the 11th hour – with the celebrations which followed Caddis’s strike and the subsequent blowing of the final whistle being something that all ‘Bluenoses’ will never forget.

As memorable as that was, Shinnie – who has joined Neil Redfearn’s Millers on loan for the rest of the season – does not fancy a white-knuckle re-run.

Shinnie, eyeing a debut today, said: “Hopefully, it won’t get to that stage this season. That was just mad. For a couple of months, we needed maybe one or two wins to get us away from the relegation zone.

“But we just couldn’t get it and it got to the last three or four games and even then, it was ‘if we get one win, we should be okay’. But we just couldn’t get it.

“It went to the last day and we probably should have been relegated, we went 2-0 down with 15 minutes to play, but luckily we managed to nick an equaliser in the 94th minute or something, to keep us up.

“To be fair, I hadn’t played much at the end and was on the bench on the last day. But I was still absolutely delighted for the lads and the celebrations were amazing.

“You are never out until you are out and we weren’t playing well at all. It’s hard when you are not doing well to pick yourself up for a game and be confident, it’s difficult especially the nearer the end of the season it gets. You just have to keep going and Birmingham did. If you can give it your all and keep fighting, you will stay up.

“I couldn’t catch him (Caddis), I don’t know how as he is hardly faster than me. Everyone went mental, I have watched it back a few times on You Tube and it is just funny. It was a massive relief really.”

Shinnie is aiming to make up for lost time with the Millers after a difficult season at St Andrews’, having played second fiddle for large parts to Arsenal loanee Jon Toral, handed the creative No 10 role which he prefers and revels in.

The Aberdonian had known about the Millers’ interest for a fair while, but was forced to bide his time before the move was finally completed. A chain of events which revolved around Middlesbrough signing Gaston Ramirez to enable loanee Diego Fabbrini to return to parent club Watford and to then be sold to Birmingham, eventually enabled him to head to Rotherham.

The wait represented a bit of added frustration for the 26-year-old, who spent last Saturday afternoon shopping instead of potentially making his debut for the Millers at Cardiff City. But all’s well that ends well.

Shinnie said: “The Birmingham manager thought it would be completed on (last) Thursday night. He was confident and let me travel with a view to training on Friday and playing on Saturday.

“But a deal got held up at his end, I couldn’t travel to Cardiff and I had the weekend off.

“Instead of playing football, I was walking around the Bull Ring Shopping Centre in Birmingham. I was thinking: ‘I need to get this sorted out.’ To be fair, my parents had come down from Scotland for the weekend, so I got a bit of time to spend with them. I had to just be patient.

“It was a nightmare really because I had to wait for other things to happen before I could go and I was in limbo really. I was trying to get out and push it, but Gary Rowett obviously had to look after himself first and the club. He said if he could get a body in, I’d probably be allowed to go out. I had to wait for everything to fall into place.”

Positive vibes from Redfearn helped tipped the scales for Shinnie when it came to deciding on his next destination with other clubs being interested.

The presence in the dressing room of two people he knows well in Chris Burke and Kirk Broadfoot was another factor alongside his memories of the Blues’ first game at the AESSEAL New York Stadium when he played his part in the Midlanders’ 1-0 win there last season.

Recalling that game, Shinnie, whose younger brother Graham is earning rave reviews for his progress north of the border with Aberdeen, added: “That was a big factor in coming here as well. I loved it last year, obviously because we won. But it was a really nice stadium and the pitch was great.

“I always remember thinking back: ‘I really enjoyed that game.’

“I did really well last season and was looking to kick on and improve. In my opinion, I haven’t had chance to do that this year.

“It is up to me to show what I can do now and repay the manager for taking me here.

“I have heard a lot about Neil, to be fair, from people who think he’s a really good manager and a top guy as well. I have met him and he seems that way.

“First and foremost, I aim to improve the squad and try and do well and get the team up the table. From what I have seen so far, the squad is better than where they are in the table. Neil’s trying to put his stamp on the team and seems to be picking up the team a lot.

“I also need to get myself going again also, the season has not really started yet.”