It may be hard to believe, but when the referee blew his whistle for the last time to finish the 2021/22 campaign, Ollie Rathbone finally stopped running.
The all-action midfielder, who has become renowned for his tireless displays in the middle of the park, knelt to the ground with his arms aloft, before being hoisted into the air by the adoring Millers fans, after a 2-0 win at Gillingham had secured promotion to the Sky Bet Championship.
The three points were wrapped up by a debut strike from Irish striker Georgie Kelly, a moment Rathbone described as the best of his career.
“I think Georgie Kelly scoring that goal might just be the best moment of my life, definitely my career,” Rathbone told www.themillers.co.uk.
“We were aware that MK Dons had won and we were thinking that one slip could cost us, so the relief was overwhelming.
“It has been a fantastic season and it was brilliant to be able to celebrate that with the fans, who have stuck by us all season.
“A lot of hard work went into the campaign and I think we got our rewards for that in the end, for me personally, I couldn’t have asked for a better first year here."
“The last few months – with the volume of games – have been tough. We’re looking forward to the Championship, but before that, we’re excited for a bit of a break”
The 2021/22 will present the former Rochdale operator with his first taste of second tier football and it is a challenge that he is relishing.
In addition to this, Rathbone believes that strong displays and victories over fellow-fancied sides this term, will give the Millers confidence heading into the level above.
“It’ll be my first taste of the Championship. I know the club haven’t been able to retain their status the last two times they’ve gone up, so that will certainly be the aim first and foremost,” Rathbone explained.
“We don’t just want to look at staying up though, we’ve seen what teams can do with a bit of spirit and momentum, so I’m sure we’ll go there to try and punch above our weight.
“For me, I’ve been working towards getting to the Championship, so I’m delighted to be able to say I’m a second tier player now.
“I think if you look at some of our better performances this season, the majority of them have been against the top teams, which I think shows that we have the capability of competing at that level. It will give us great confidence.”