NESTLING close to the border of South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire, the historic village of Tickhill is not a place usually associated with football fever.
But there will be more than a passing interest in the outcome of tomorrow lunch-time’s derby between near-neighbours Doncaster Rovers and Rotherham United – with the post-match chatter likely to continue in the local schools come Monday morning too.
It may be an away game, but for Millers’ manager Paul Warne, it is a bit of a ‘home’ fixture, with his family home being in the village, which lies just seven and a half miles south of Doncaster.
Warne’s children have already copped plenty of banter from their Rovers-supporting classmates with dad aiming to do his level best to ensure that the ribbing stops by presiding over an away victory tomorrow.
On the derby, just the second meeting between the rivals at the Keepmoat Stadium – with the only previous one taking place over a decade ago in January 2007 – Warne said: “I would be lying if I did not say that the fact it is Donny, it has a little bit of edge.
“I live closer to Donny than I do to Rotherham and a lot of people in my village are Donny fans and my son and daughter go to a Donny school.
“So they have already threatened me with my life if my team do not perform and win, and I am obviously well aware of the following we are taking as well.”
If the worst happens and the hosts win – making for a potentially difficult Saturday night – Warne quipped: “I will have all Saturday afternoon to sulk, where the kids – bless their hearts out – will not be speaking to me and will be thinking, ‘Leave dad alone’. But, hopefully, things will go well and I will go to ice hockey on Saturday night to cheer me up.”
With the Millers making the short trip up the M18 for the first time in over ten years, the fixture has generated plenty of interest among visiting supporters, with a sell-out contingent of just under 4,000 travelling fans expected to descend upon the Keepmoat.
A crowd of around 11,000 is likely tomorrow, with the Millers likely to be backed by their biggest away support for some time – with Warne hopeful that the bumper numbers will have a positive psychological effect on his side.
They have already threatened me with my life if my team do not perform and win, and I am obviously well aware of the following we are taking as well.Rotherham boss, Paul Warne
He said: “When you are tired and you are running back and you can hear the crowd cheering you on, it just gives you that extra little bit. It does have a positive effect like that.
“Plus, when the lads walk on to the pitch to warm up and there are loads of people already milling around, it has that ‘big game’ feel. It gets more adrenaline into them.
“Obviously, it is a great feeling if you can score too, especially if it’s in the end where your fans are. When I think back to my goals when I played, the only ones I can properly remember are the ones where there were a lot of people there.
“One of my favourite goals of all time was for Oldham at Huddersfield when we had about 4,000 fans in the away end and it was rammed. I did not even mean it. I was on the floor and a shot hit my back and went in. I went off like I had scored an overhead kick.
“Scoring in front of a big away following is even better than scoring at home. I think a good away following is essential.
“Ever since I have been here, the away following has been pretty impressive for the size of the club.”