AS the final whistle sounded at last, there was only one place for victorious Rotherham captain Lee Frecklington to head.
Where he found the energy from after such an involved performance in his first game back after six weeks injured, who knows.
However, the inspirational midfielder charged straight over to caretaker manager Paul Warne to embrace on the touchline and start jubilant celebrations, a mixture of relief and delight after finally winning for the first time in 16 games.
Although neither hails from the South Yorkshire town both are so hopelessly besotted with Rotherham that you would never know; it was patently clear how much this rarest of wins meant.
Granted, they remain bottom of the Championship table given it was only their second success of the campaign, the first coming way back in August.
But after so much angst and upheaval – the Millers are looking for a sixth new manager since the start of last season – there was so much positivity effusing through this performance.
Warne, the charismatic former midfielder who represented Rotherham more than 300 times, has clearly instilled belief and, on this evidence, plenty of organisation, too.
After on-loan Chelsea striker Izzy Brown’s classy 24th minute finish – the Millers should really have extended their lead with a series of well-crafted chances in the second period – they will head to Fulham tomorrow invigorated and confident.
Warne has said he does not want to be considered for the role permanently but, asked if he would like him to stay on longer, Frecklington was certain in his response.
“Of course I would,” said the 31-year-old.
“I’d run through brick walls for Paul Warne. He’s a great role model and see why no reason why he won’t be a great manager.
“He’s been so positive, enthusiastic, infectious. I just love having him around the place.
“When someone is that happy, that bubbly, it’s only a positive thing. People come into training and can’t help but enjoy themselves. I’m a big believer if you’re enjoying your football and you’re happy then you play better.
“I’m all for Paul Warne and really am pleased we managed to get him a victory today. I know how much it means to him.”
Warne – who texted his starting line-up on Friday night saying ‘congratulations, you’ve made the it into the Warne Dream Team’ and placed personal messages for each one in the dressing room beforehand – has likened Frecklington to his ‘on-field manager’ given the similarities they have as players.
“I do have a connection with Paul,” he said, about the 43-year-old.
“We’re both Rotherham people. We both play the same way, wear our hearts on our sleeve, never-say-die and try our hardest. I can relate to Paul a lot. I’m just extra pleased that we managed to get the win.
“He had 11 players in there and we all wanted to do our best for ourselves and the club but more importantly for him, Hammy and Breck (coaches).
“We out-ran them (QPR), out-thought them, maybe didn’t out-football them at times but when you’ve got that true Rotherham spirit like we had today – we had 11 players like that in my opinion –and the fans behind us it’s always difficult for teams here.
“It’s obviously been such a long time (since a victory) but it’s a start and a win we desperately needed.”
From the moment Frecklington drove into the box and fired a shot after just 60 seconds, there was a sense Rotherham had the purpose and desire to finally pick up a first win since August.
At times in the first half, they needed some fine saves from Lewis Price to keep struggling QPR at bay but it was the home side who actually grew in the second period, implored to continually advance by Warne rather than retreat deeper and deeper as in previous instances this term.
Joe Newell was a constant threat with his dangerous left boot, hard-working striker Danny Ward seemed to be everywhere, and 19-year-old Brown showed some lovely touches, too, as well as scoring his third goal for the club. Then there was Frecklington, sat in the middle, making timely tackles, not giving his opponents a moment’s peace and driving his own side forward whenever possible.
Ward hit the crossbar with a fearsome strike as they sought that second and Newell somehow skewed the rebound over while Jon Taylor also wasted a golden opportunity.
However, with Richard Wood in such dominant mood at the back alongside the recalled Aimen Belaid – the Tunisian making his first appearance in 11 months having largely been out of favour – Rotherham remained in control.
“I think you could see at the final whistle how much it meant to everyone,” said Warne.
“For them to win gives me great pride, they left nothing on there, they should be proud of themselves. They are buzzing like we have won a cup final.”