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Gillingham manager Steve Evans looking forward to seeing Rotherham chairman Tony Stewart again as teams clash in League 1

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Manager Steve Evans will be keen to share a drink with his former boss on Tuesday night - a chairman he has described as the best he’s worked for.

Gillingham boss Evans enjoyed promotion success as manager of midweek opponents Rotherham United, taking them from League 2 to the Championship.

Steve Evans enjoyed some memorable times working under Rotherham chairman Tony Stewart
Steve Evans enjoyed some memorable times working under Rotherham chairman Tony Stewart

Rotherham chairman Tony Stewart invested millions to build them a new ground, the New York Stadium, and turn the club into a big player in the lower leagues. Premier League football is the aim of the owner but they have to get back to the Championship first. They are the current League 1 leaders.

Evans and the Stewart family has been close ever since those glory years working together.

“He is a fantastic man,” said Evans. “He will want to win, he will want to be puffing on that big cigar and drinking his red wine to celebrate and by the same token I want to see him afterwards with a glass of red having won myself.

“We are both competitive and that is why we were tremendously successful, we challenged each other every day, sometimes good, sometimes bad, we had disagreements, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It is a big claim for me to say, but best ever chairman, Tony Stewart.”

Mr Stewart was only recently at the wedding of one of Evans’ daughters.

Evans led Rotherham to promotion from League 2 as runners-up behind Gillingham in 2013 before then guiding them into the Championship. He eventually left after being lured away by Leeds United.

“We had remarkable success,” the Gills boss recalled. “He said to me, ‘I can’t tell you what I want you to do to my team if I can’t back it up with my wallet’.

“Chief executive Paul Douglas did the deals, he used to say to me and Paul ‘just make sure we get value for money’. You can’t always get it right but in the main we got value for money. We made him a Championship chairman but he wants to be in the Premier League.

“This season is massive to him and every point when you are chasing that dream is massive and every point for us is massive at the moment.”

More on the Gills;

It won’t be the first time Evans has been back to Rotherham with a different team. He claimed a point there as boss of Peterborough and was beaten 2-1 in a ding-dong match while in charge at Leeds.

Recalling that clash as Leeds boss, Evans said: “They scored a late penalty to win it and memory tells me I had an Italian centre-half at the time who thought he was like Bobby Moore and he was as far removed from Bobby Moore as you could imagine!

“I have gone back with Leeds and Peterborough and had the most wonderful receptions. I am just fortunate that in my time I spent almost four years working for such a great family.

“I have been lucky with the people I have worked for but of all of them, Tony Stewart stands out head and shoulders.

“I had dinner with Tony and his brother Terry recently, great people. They know I will want to win, but as I said when we went to Sheffield Wednesday recently, when you have managed or played for Rotherham, there is a saying, ‘once a Miller, always a Miller’.

“Do I want to go and win? Oh yeah, of course, but it is a great place to go. We will be doing everything we can to win but we know how tough that hurdle will be.

“For the Gillingham fans who haven’t been there, it is a mini Emirates Stadium [home of Arsenal], it is a stunning place to go and play football, whether you are the home side or the opposition.

“It is a place that win, lose or draw, the club will be in my heart forever, with the best chairman ever.”

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