Former Millers star speaks ahead of cup tie...
Rotherham United meet Rochdale this weekend in the second round of the FA Cup, and www.themillers.co.uk caught up with someone who starred for both sides, Adam Le Fondre.
Alfie proved a hit with supporters either side of the Pennines and few who watched him find the net week-after-week will have been surprised to see him netting in the Premier League last season.
In Saturday’s Millers Matchday he talks about Keith Hill and the success he had at Rochdale, but he left Spotland to join the Millers in one of Mark Robins’ last acts as Rotherham United boss; a legacy that the fans will remember fondly.
Resplendent in his number 39 he hit the ground running, and despite failing to score on his debut, found the net in 10 of his following 11 matches, firing him into pole-position for the golden boot and into the hearts of supporters, becoming an instant hit.
“The main reason why I moved to Rotherham was to play every game,” Le Fondre said, exclusively to www.themillers.co.uk. “I knew that when I was at Rochdale I’d get a game and play most weeks but I didn’t know if it would be from the start or as a sub because me and Daggers (Chris Dagnall) had a real battle going on for that shirt. It was always between the two of us and there was a policy that if we didn’t score one week it was almost a given that the other would start next week.
“I knew that Mark Robins wanted to bring me in as the main man and that’s why I joined because I wanted to play as much as possible, and to be fair to Mark and Rotherham they gave me that platform to show what I could do, and play as many games as possible during my time there.”
Had Alfie talked us through all 58 goals he scored in Millers red then we may have been at it some time, and as a goalscorer, he will no doubt remember them all. Instead, he opted to focus on two games in particular.
It wasn’t walking out in front of over 30,000 people at Wembley, nor was it the two televised games leading up to it where he netted in both legs live on Sky Sports.
Rather, the game that stands out took place on a bitter November evening. Lincoln City were in town and despite the build up being focused on full debuts being given to Adam Rundle and Gary Roberts, it was Alfie who was being talked about when the 2,901 people in attendance left Don Valley Stadium.
A long clearance downfield was capitalised on by Le Fondre on halfway who poked the ball past Richard Butcher before racing into the area and thundering a shot into the roof of the net, beating Rob Burch at his near post. If the first goal brought about a hunger for more, the second one left supporters simply salivating, as he adjusted his body and met Tom Pope’s drilled cross with a spectacular overhead kick into the bottom corner.
“There was a Tuesday night game against Lincoln where I scored two of the best goals of my career, one with a run and then an overhead-kick but then I had a penalty for my third and I was a bit too cocky so that served me right.”
If Le Fondre was not quite spot on that night for his hat-trick he more than made up for it at the start of the next season.
Putting the play-off heartache behind them, the Millers began the season undefeated in their opening two league games when they welcomed Cheltenham Town to Don Valley, and after going behind, Le Fondre (with only one goal to his name in the first two matches) took it upon himself to smash a perfect hat-trick, with his right foot to open the scoring, his left as a rebound from another missed penalty and then dipping to head home from close range. Not satisfied with this, the striker then added a fourth for good measure in a 6-4 victory.
“There was also the Cheltenham home game where I scored four and then the play-off games where I scored in both legs which were both excellent. The second season had started brilliantly it’s just a shame it faded out towards the end.”
Like any player, asked about whether he checks his former team’s results the answer is yes, and the striker has been impressed with the new-look Millers progress back into League One.
“They’re doing well, although I don’t really know many of the boys at Rotherham anymore; Prings and Bradders are still there and Pabs is back of course but there’s not a lot I know, it’s a bit of a clean slate, which goes right through to the new stadium. I suppose in their present form you'd have to fancy them to win on Saturday but that's taking nothing away from Rochdale. I do always back them (the Millers) on my accumulator though so I look out for the results and they haven’t let me down much so I’m pleased with that.”
Are the Millers banished to being little more than a bet for Le Fondre, or could New York Stadium be graced with the goalscoring prowess that earned him two consecutive Rotherham United Player of the Year Awards and a place in the League Two Team of the Year?
“You never know,” he laughed. “I might get my 39 back one day…”
There will be more with Adam Le Fondre in this Saturday’s Millers Matchday, and the forthcoming edition against Wolverhampton Wanderers where he talks us through life after the Millers.