After drawing the semi-final first leg, Rotherham shoulder favouritism to advance to the League One play-off final by vanquishing Preston on home turf.
Punters who wade in on the Millers’ 23/20 for victory in normal time, or sit on the fence with their 31/50 to qualify, can rely on North End’s play-off hoodoo to almost guarantee them a windfall in a week where football curses have proved to be as prominent as ever.
Simon Grayson’s 21/10 underdogs have participated in a grand total of eight, count em, play-off campaigns and every one has ended in tears.
They’ve had two cracks at the League One post-season extravaganza, falling at the semi-final stage in both the 1988/89 and 1989/90 seasons and away form of no win in five ahead of this south Yorkshire sojourn doesn’t suggest they’re in shape to hammer the hex this year.
Rotherham, on the other hand, have won seven and lost zip of their previous 11 at the errantly located New York Stadium.
It’s not just recent matches that should be taken into account before placing your wager on the hosts, however, just look at what happened to Benfica last night.
When the Lisbon behemoths refused to comply with Hungarian coach Bela Guttman’s demands for a pay rise after winning successive European Cups in ‘61 and ’62, an altercation ensued between board and manager which resulted in the gaffer getting the boot, not a fatter pay packet.
It is alleged that, upon his departure, Guttman decreed: ‘Not in 100 years from now will Benfica ever be European champion.’
‘Ooooooh,’ the Eagles’ chairman retorted, mocking fear, prompting the yes men at his side to guffaw and thump the solid oak table they sat at as an incandescent Guttman made his exit.
A record-breaking eight continental finals and 52 years later, though, the sound of Benfica laughter, along with fresh European tins in their trophy cabinet, are eerily absent.
Sevilla’s penalty shootout win in the Europa League final was the second consecutive consolation competition showpiece lost on the spin and with this curse showing no signs of waning in potency, back the monkey on Preston’s back pointing Rotherham in the direction of Wembley.