AFTER previously missing a big home occasion for Rotherham United against one of their arch-rivals from across the Tinsley Viaduct, Joe Mattock can vouch for how much derby day means to the Millers.
The ex-Sheffield Wednesday full-back can still recall the frustration of being injured when the Millers faced the Owls in a televised meeting in October 2015.
The TV cameras will also be at the AESSEAL New York Stadium for another high-stakes autumnal occasion on Saturday lunch-time when Sheffield United are in town and Mattock cannot wait.
League ever-present Mattock, who spent a loan spell with the Blades in 2010-11, said: “This is what it is all about.
“I dreamed about playing football as a kid and you dream of playing in derbies and big stadiums. Sometimes, it takes being on the sidelines to see how much of a big game a derby is.
“I remember I did not play in the Sheffield Wednesday game at the New York Stadium. I think I was injured at the time and I thought: ‘Oh my god, this is a massive game.’ I can only imagine it will be the same on Saturday.
“I have just got to keep that feeling inside and remember that and what it means to the fans and try and get that win.”
A solid start to 2018-19 has seen Rotherham stay clear of the bottom three of the Championship thus far, no mean feat given they were the overwhelming favourites for the drop in the summer.
Mattock remains confident that continuity can yield long-term rewards for the Millers, who had a total of six managers during their last two Championship seasons in 2016-17 and 2015-16.
The left-back, part of a Millers’ line-up who have seen their colours lowered just once in their past eight league outings, added: “It has become a lot more professional and the gaffer and coaching staff spend a lot of hours throughout the day looking at the opposition and how to break them down and beat them.
“That is how it has to be as teams are that good and organised that we have to match that.
“In the last time in the Championship, we did not have that professionalism. We went through two or three managers and the season before we had two or three.
“It was a bit unorganised and now it is a lot more professional and organised and you can tell.”