Rotherham United skipper Richard Wood has implored the club’s supporters to get behind the team for their hectic Sky Bet Championship run-in, reaffirming that it ‘isn’t the end of the road’ for their side this season, despite the setback on Easter Monday against Wycombe Wanderers.
Wood, who has experienced many of the highs and lows that Millers fans have endured over the last seven years, did not hide from the fact that defeat against the Chairboys yesterday was anything but ideal, but was strong in his belief that Rotherham United’s second tier fate is still very much in the hands of everyone at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
The skipper – a leader both on and off the pitch – has issued a rallying cry to his teammates and everyone of a Millers persuasion as preparations begin ahead of their final 10 games in the 2020/21 campaign,
"It was a disappointing result and we have to move on quickly, but it is not the end of the road for us yet,” Wood told www.themillers.co.uk.
"We know that we've got enough games to sort it out and enough games to keep ourselves in the division. It wasn't good yesterday, we know that.
"At the same time, that result is definitely not the be-all-and-end-all for us. There is still plenty of fight left in us and I look around the dressing room daily and can say that honestly."
"It is a setback, no doubt about it, but one that we believe we can recover from. We know that we can't have a performance like that again if we are to stay up.
"It has hurt the players as much as I am sure that it has hurt the fans. There was perhaps an expectation that we should have won the game and don't get me wrong, the lads wanted to do just that. However, with every game that is left to go, they are all as 'must win' as the next.”
The story of Wood and his Rotherham United career does not need re-telling.
The defender has overcome setbacks much bigger than Monday’s defeat and has not only performed throughout the adversity but has thrived on it.
With more experience than most across all four of England’s top divisions, Wood is adamant that the current dressing room is filled with players who share the fans’ desire to be a second tier outfit moving into the new season and believes that fight will give them every possible chance of achieving their aims.
"We all want to stay in the league desperately. The lads here care about playing for the club and they want to play as high up the pyramid as they can - that is certainly how it feels and that is exactly what I want to do, even at 35."
"We didn't get promoted to make up the numbers and everyone at the club wants to be putting on Championship football when fans are able to return, hopefully next season.
“Saturday is a perfect opportunity for us to go and put it right before a very busy week.
"That week is going to be so demanding physically, but I think as a group, it is a challenge that a lot of the lads will want to stand up to mentally. Yesterday's performance was out of character because our character is very much about thriving in the big occasions.
"I, personally, love the big games. I think that is where you see the best of me and hopefully I can bring that out of the rest of the squad.
"It will be difficult and we'll definitely be fatigued but we won't care about that if we start picking up points against the teams around us and hopefully get on a roll throughout the week.”
Wood is of course, referring to the week in which the Millers will play four games in eight days facing a number of sides in and around them in the table in the process.
Having had to watch from the stands on Easter Monday as a result of his suspension, he admits that he feels the pain of the supporters who have been restricted to watching from afar and unable to influence the players with their support on matchdays.
However, as someone who now very much ‘gets’ Rotherham United and what staying in the division means to the club’s supporters, Wood is desperate to ensure that they are watching Championship football upon their safe return after the coronavirus pandemic.
"It must be so difficult for the fans to sit and watch it on a laptop screen,” he conceded.
"We need everybody. Every player within the club but every fan as well. I know they're not here but we could feel their mood around the place after that win at Hillsborough. To know they're behind us makes a huge difference, even though they're not in the ground."
“They have affected the big games at New York in our favour in the past and sitting at home not being able to do that must be killing them.
"My family have been doing the same and my boys and Jade haven't been to the games this season. They want to watch Championship football next season, just like the fans do, and we want to do everything we can to make sure that happens for everyone.
"We've had ups and downs this season, like we have in nearly every season I've experienced as a Rotherham player.
"This is one last effort in which we need everyone behind us as we pull together aiming for the one thing we all want the most - to stay in the Championship.”
Rotherham United travel to Huddersfield Town this Saturday ahead of a flurry of Sky Bet Championship fixtures at AESSEAL New York Stadium, which will see them lock horns with Queens Park Rangers, Coventry City and Birmingham City before the week is through.