THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Ken Booth, the current Rotherham United owner, has been trying to sell the club almost since he bought it. Nigel Wilkes tells us exactly who the chairman is

Distinguishing Features Has been described as a cross between Bill “I love scrap” Fraser in the Barn­stoneworth episode of Ripping Yarns and Uriah Heep (the Dick­ensian character, not the ones who sang Gypsy), but I think he looks more a superannuated ferret.

Habitat The scrap-man’s scrap-man. He owns the biggest independent scrap business in the country and his yards surround Millmoor on three sides. He appears to have a contract with British Rail, as trains waiting to be dis­membered often appear in the yards behind the away end. The famous tilting train made its last journey to Booths to be sawn up. The impression on the terraces whenever we sell a player is that Boothy needs a new crane.

What use is he? When Ken took over in 1986, we were in a mess. He’s kept us alive, but that’s as far as it goes. He’s into his eighties now and none of his heirs is interested. To be fair to him, he’s been trying to sell the club almost since he bought it, but has had no takers. For some reason.

Who remembers his birthday? Our erstwhile manager, Phil Henson, is probably his most ardent fan. When we all sang “Henson out” at the beginning of the 1994-95 season, the club secretary Norman Darnell was sacked and Henson given his job. When we sang “Henson out” in 1996 after the close season clear-out of the Wembley heroes, Archie Gemmill and John McGovern were sacked, and Henson made chief executive. We’ve refrained from singing “Henson out” since then. The idea of speculating to accumulate seems anathema to him, as witnessed by the refusal, until very recently, to give players long term contracts, and the ridiculous situation with Ronnie Moore, who is thought to be the worst paid manager in the bottom two divisions, and who didn’t get a contract for this season until after we’d achieved promotion.

Quote unquote His most famous comment was when manager Billy McEwan was rested in 1991 after a series of bad results, and replaced by Phil Henson, with McEwan re­tained on the payroll: “It may seem like a funny thing to do, but we’re funny people in Rother­ham.” Mc­Ewan resigned shortly afterwards.

Other offences to be taken into consideration There is a rumour that Booth was in a foul mood after we reached Wembley in the 1996 Auto Windscreens. Not because he’d have to pay out bonuses (though I imagine this upset him), but because Shrewsbury beat Bristol Rovers to be our opponents. Apparently he was upset because The Gas would have brought twice as many fans to Wembley and we would therefore have had a bigger payout. Hard to believe though.

From WSC 169 March 2001. What was happening this month

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