‘To get a team promoted three times in a row from League One would be a massive achievement’ - Rotherham United’s Richard Wood

MENTION the phrase ‘slip under the radar’ and many connected with Rotherham United will instinctively know what you mean. Their captain certainly does.

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Amid a League One which is top-heavy with former Premier League clubs including Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland and Ipswich, the Millers are going about their business with relatively little fuss. Not for the first time.

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Expectation – externally at least – is firmly on the shoulders of others, which suits Rotherham down to the ground en route to what they fervently hope will be a third successive return to the Championship at the first time of asking following relegation.

Rotherham United's Richard Wood celebrates with the trophy and team-mates after the Sky Bet League One Final at Wembley in 2018. Picture: PA

When discussion does turn to Rotherham from the outside, opposing supporters repeatedly trot out the increasingly hackneyed line about them purely being direct and one-dimensional.

It is some way from the truth, but fits their narrative. More importantly, it serves as a handy motivational tool for the Millers, who currently reside in fifth spot, three points behind leaders Plymouth with a game in hand.

Captain Richard Wood told The Yorkshire Post: “I don’t mind going under the radar. It benefits us.

“We get labelled as a big, physical direct team all the time. But we have played some unbelievable stuff this season and it has been great. I think we have been good to watch.

Richard Wood and chairman Tony Stewart during Rotherham United's 2018 victory parade. Picture Bruce Rollinson

“If we keep people fit and are on it, we’re a match for anyone. The only game where we’ve fallen away is Fleetwood and it is about performances over the season. If we do well and are performing, we will be there or thereabouts.

“We are one of the main contenders and teams fear us when they play us and we have seen that this season with teams changing their shape and sitting back against us.

“Everything is going well and I am really pleased.”

With more points at this stage of the season in comparison to their joyous promotion campaigns of 2017-18 and 2019-20, many of a Millers persuasion might just be wondering if there is a catch somewhere with things going pretty swimmingly so far.

Millers captain Richard Wood. Picture Tony Johnson

The belief among a Rotherham squad abundant with talented and athletic footballers who know their jobs and are rich in spirit and togetherness is high.

That they have responded so magnificently and quickly to such a cruel relegation on the final day of last season in Cardiff is testament to their many qualities.

The Millers’ outstanding record at this level will have helped in the ‘moving on’ process and achieving a hat-trick of promotions is a declared aim for Paul Warne’s side. It is most definitely not the ‘elephant in the room’.

Wood commented: “That is what my personal ambition is. To get a team promoted three times in a row from League One would be a massive achievement.

“I know certain players who have not had a promotion in their career. For us to get three in a row would be some achievement and is what you play football for.

“I have said to the lads ‘What is the point of dwelling on last season when we are one of the strongest teams in this division and it is a strong division this year?’”

Undeniably, League One has been good for Wood, who also boasts a play-off final win with Wednesday at this level in 2004-05 alongside his two promotions with the Millers.

His finest hour undoubtedly arrived on one fateful late spring day in May 2018 when he scored both goals in the Millers’ 
Wembley victory over Shrewsbury.

When Wood retires, he might just indulge in watching footage of that feted occasion a bit more regularly with his loved ones.

But for now – and a good while yet – there is work to do.

The 36-year-old added: “I will do [watch it more] once I have finished and will look at getting what I can together.

“My children are always watching the Wembley game and I think they can do a word-for-word commentary as well.

“I have experienced highs and lows and straight away when we were back in League One, I thought: ‘We can get promoted again.’

“It could be more memories for me, my family and children when I am finished. That is the way that I see it.”