Ronnie Moore on his time as a player and manager for Rotherham United and his thoughts on Paul Warne and if the Millers can establish themselves in the Championship.
Moore has spent a total of 13 years at Rotherham United both as a player and manager. He had a lot of highs and lows in that time, but he is regarded as one of the best players and managers in the club’s history.
The striker started his career with successful stints at Tranmere Rovers and Cardiff City. Moore made the move to Rotherham in 1980 and before leaving in 1983 he made 125 appearances for the club scoring 52 goals.
He was part of the brilliant Millers team that won the Division Three title in 1980/81. Rotherham needed a victory on the final day to win the title and they did just that.
Goals from Moore and Rodney Fern was enough to beat Plymouth Argyle 2-1. They finished two points above Barnsley and Charlton Athletic in the other promotion places to claim the league title.
That game took place at Milmoor, and in Moore’s chat with me he spoke about that 1980/81 team and his love for Rotherham United’s old ground:
“I loved every minute I had at Rotherham United as a player. That team in 1980/81 was the best side I have ever played in, and in my mind the best ever Rotherham United side.
“We also had one of the best managers ever in Ian Porterfield. My best mate John Breckin thinks myself, Tony Towner, and John Seasman being added to the squad already there were the final pieces of the jigsaw.
“Millmoor was Millmoor. A wonderful place to play your football. There was always a great atmosphere with the crowd right on top of you. Football has changed so much now with bigger all seater stadiums. New York is a fantastic stadium but give me Millmoor.
Moore officially retired as a player in 1989. In his last couple of years he readied himself for management by becoming Tranmere’s assistant manager.
The 67-year-old was in that role for nine years from 1987 until 1996 before he moved to Southport to become their permanent manager. He was only there for a couple of months before making his long-awaited return to Rotherham United to become their new manager.
Moore spent eight years as the club’s manager during his first stint. Between 1999 and 2001 he guided them to consecutive promotions from Division Three into Division One.
This was an unbelievable achievement at the time for everyone at the club. Moore is one of only two Rotherham managers to have achieved such a feet, with the other man being Steve Evans.
Moore gave a lot of credit to his assistant and one of his closest friends, John Breckin, for the success they had. But he does not think there are many similarities between his and Evans’ teams:
“I think myself and John Breckin put our great club back on the football map. We were in trouble going nowhere till we both took over. It’s not all about Ronnie Moore we were a team me and Breck.“I don’t think there are any similarities between my teams and Steve Evans teams. Steve used a lot more players than I did. We got automatic promotion twice and worked on a shoe string.”
After spending time as manager at Oldham Athletic and Tranmere, Moore returned to the Millers as boss again in 2009. He was tasked with leading the club through a difficult period playing outside of Rotherham at the Don Valley Stadium.
Despite this, Moore enjoyed a successive first season back at the club. He guided Rotherham to a play-off place by finishing 5th in League Two. Rotherham beat Aldershot Town 3-0 on aggregate to advance to the Play-Off Final. But their big day at Wembley ended in disappointment as they were beaten 3-2 by Dagenham & Redbridge.
In the next season Rotherham were again around the play-off places, but Moore left the club by mutual consent in March 2011 after losing 5-0 to Chesterfield. Moore still looks back fondly at his second reign as manager and he has no regrets about returning to the club:
“The pride I had leading my team out at Wembley in a Playoff Final is something I will remember for the rest of my life. So will the pain of not giving our great supporters the promotion we all craved for.
“I never had any regrets about returning to the club I love. I’m not making excuses but being based at Don Valley did not help our course. It always felt like we were playing away. I still don’t think I should have been sacked because we were just outside the playoffs with everything to play for.”
Current Rotherham United manager Paul Warne was a mainstay in the famous side under Ronnie Moore that achieved successive promotions. Warne took an unconventional route into management by starting off as a fitness coach.
It has not been an easy transition for him at all. Yet as time has gone on he has really took to the role. While he has been manager, Warne has been able to guide Rotherham out of a treacherous period on and off the pitch to make them a team that others look on enviously.
The 46-year-old helped Rotherham to promotion via the play-offs in 2017/18 after a great League One campaign. Unfortunately the Millers were relegated the season after but since then they have recovered well and they sit joint-top of League One. Moore has seen a lot of Rotherham this campaign and he believes they have enough to go up:
“Warney has done a great job since he took over. I like the look of us at the moment. The team has plenty of pace, height and they are organised at set plays for and against. I think we will finish in the top two this season.“It takes time to become a good manager. Paul was thrown in at the deep end to start with and I really think he has grown into the role now. Maybe one day he can go on to manage at the top level, but they better put my statue up before his!”
Should Rotherham United go up this year, much has been said about whether they are capable of faring better in the Championship this time around.
Warne and his players earned the admiration of fans up and down the country for how they went about their business last season. In the end they fell just short due to a lack of investment and quality in the squad.
Rotherham lost some vital players in the summer but they have recruited really well, which has helped them become one of the standout teams in League One.
Moore knows how difficult it can be for clubs in the Championship to compete with limited resources. He admits that in this current financial climate it will be tough for a club like Rotherham to establish themselves in the second tier:
“I think we will go up. But it is hard to say if we are prepared on and off the field for it. The Championship is such a hard division to stay in when you are not a rich club. I don’t believe we have enough investment to stay at that level for a long time.
“We need to win the lottery! To stay there in the Championship you need financial backing. Tony Stewart has done a great job as Chairman, but he will need help from some very rich men if we are to become an established Championship team.”