The next part of our ‘Retro Review’ series takes us back to 2004 and that eight-goal classic between Rotherham & Norwich at Milmoor!
Prior to this game, Rotherham lost 2-1 to Division Three side Northampton Town in an FA Cup 3rd Round Replay. With that, the Millers missed out on a tasty fourth-round tie with Manchester United.
Now all their focus fell to the league and trying to guarantee their Division One safety for another year. Rotherham were in 17th place ahead of this one and they still had much to do if they wanted to assure their 2nd tier status.
They had a very tough challenge here as they went up against league leaders Norwich City. This was a big game for the Millers in front of their home fans at the beloved Milmoor.
But not many supporters attending this game could have anticipated how dramatic it would be, as it turned out being an instant classic…
Rotherham United Starting XI
Norwich were the heavy favourites for this one but it was Rotherham who struck first to go 1-0 up after 28 minutes.
After already testing his opponents already early on, Shaun Barker sent in another long-throw into the box. It ricocheted around before falling to Martin Butler who finished nicely past eventual England international Rob Green.
But it did not take long for Norwich to respond, as they hit straight back with an equaliser a minute later. Gary Holt set Iwan Roberts up at the back post and he placed it into the far corner to make it 1-1.
Rotherham were left to rue their bad luck minutes later as Norwich took the lead. The ball was crossed into the box to Leon Mckenzie, who saw his initial header saved well by Mike Pollitt. But the rebound fell right back to Mckenzie who easily tapped home to make it 2-1.
But the great Millers spirit was on show again as they fought back to level terms in the 42nd minute. Chris Sedgwick sent in a superb cross with his left foot to the centre of the box. His cross was met by Butler, who beat the ‘keeper to it to score his second of the game to make it 2-2.
An eventful first-half had not peaked in drama just yet though. With a minute to go, Darren Huckerby was advancing in on goal down the left with Barker marking him.
As they neared the byline, Barker was adjudged to bring Huckerby down and the penalty was given. It is fair to say that it was a harsh decision, and Rotherham’s players reacted furiously.
The spot-kick was put away and Guy Branston was sent off for his involvement in a fracas after the penalty was given. Millers boss Ronnie Moore was also sent to the stands for his enraged response to the decision.
Rotherham were left with a lot to do heading into the second half. Being a goal down against the league leaders is worrying enough, but being down to ten-men added to their woes.
The travelling Norwich fans would have expected an easy second half in which their side breezed to another three points.
This was not the case though, as the Millers came out firing in search of an all-important equaliser. They had to be patient but their hard work paid off with their third goal in the 65th minute.
It came as John Mullin sent in a deep cross into the box and Butler challenged Green for the ball in their air. It appeared like Green did enough to win it, but he fumbled it.
This allowed Butler to stab it home into an empty net to complete his hat-trick and an unlikely Millers comeback.
Ten minutes later, Rotherham amazingly struck again to take the lead for the first time since they went 1-0 up.
Darren Byfield sent in a searching ball into the box which fell perfectly for the onrushing Mullin. He smashed the ball home to give Rotherham belief that an extraordinary win was on the cards.
Sadly this was not the end of the story, as Norwich had the last laugh with a minute to go. A deep corner was sent to the back post, which was headed back by Malky Mackay.
His header fell right to Damien Francis who did well to find the bottom corner in a sea of bodies to make it 4-4. That was how it finished as both teams earned a point from this unbelievable game of football.
This rightly went down as one of the games of the season in Division One. It stood both teams in good stead heading into the last few months of the campaign.
Norwich remained top of the league and were eventually crowned champions. They finished eight points clear of West Brom who went up in 2nd place. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace beat West Ham 1-0 in the Play-Off Final to earn promotion to the Premiership.
Rotherham were involved in a tight relegation scrap, but they did enough to stay up. Moore’s side finished up in 17th, but there was only three points separating them and the last relegation spot. Walsall, Bradford City and Wimbledon ended up being the unlucky teams relegated down to Division Two.
It was another great season for the Millers as they defied all expectations once again to remain a second-tier club for a fourth consecutive year.