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Grass isn't always greener for Millers strikers

Kieran Agard’s move to Bristol City has gone down in the history books as Rotherham’s biggest ever sale as his near-£1million price tag is the club’s record transfer fee received for a single player.

And in swapping South Yorkshire for the West Country and the Championship for League One, the 24-year-old, who scored 33 goals in 91 appearances for the Millers, follows a number of strikers who have left the club for a sizeable fee over the last 20 years or so.

For a club of their ilk, they have had a phenomenal amount of striking talent pull on the red and white shirt, with many of them making their name in South Yorkshire.

But given their stature – and until recently precarious financial situation  the Millers have always been a selling club and have been able to recoup a substantial amount of money.

However, although the outgoing strikers’ pockets have inevitably become substantially more lined upon their departure to pastures new, from a footballing point the grass hasn’t always turned out to be greener.

Let’s have a look back to see who has left and whether their move turned out to be a success.

Kieran Agard's 26 goals last season proved vital to the Millers' promotion

Shaun Goater (Bristol City, £175,000)

Goater was the lynchpin of the Millers attack over a prolonged period in the early 1990s following his move from Manchester United as a teenager. Although sometimes clumsy, the Bermudian was a threat with his pace and power and he scored 86 goals in 261 appearances while at Millmoor. He was sold to Bristol City after the 1996 Auto Windscreens Shield victory amid rumours of a bust-up with Archie Gemmill.

A prolific two years at Ashton Gate, scoring 45 goals in 92 appearances, proved his pedigree and in 1998 he signed for Manchester City for £400,000 and it was at Maine Road where he would write himself into folklore. Goater plundered in an impressive 103 goals in 212 appearances as City surged from Division Two back to the Premier League and his crowning moment was to score a brace in a famous 3-1 win over Manchester United at Maine Road.

Verdict: SUCCESS

Leo Fortune-West (Cardiff, £300,000)

Fortune-West originally arrived at the Millers on loan in 1998/99 and had a barn-storming spell, scoring four goals in five games. He was bought by Brentford but that move did not work out and after a famous story of Rotherham asking to pay a £35,000 price tag in installments, the tall striker returned to Millmoor on a permanent deal in February 1999. He banged in the goals as Ronnie Moore's men were beaten play-off semi-finalists that season before doing the same again the following term as they went one better in winning promotion from Division Three. He scored 17 goals and was the focal point of the attack with his aerial threat and hold-up play. After starting the season with the Millers in Division Two, Cardiff flexed their muscles and took him to Ninian Park for a hefty sum  it was a record at the time. As it turned out, the Millers didn't miss him.

Back in Division Three, Fortune-West made hay and enjoyed a second successive promotion as his goals again proved vital. He struggled in the third tier and moved to Doncaster, where he had a third promotion from the bottom division on the bounce, before seeing his career out in nomadic style.

Verdict: SUCCESS

Alan Lee (Cardiff, £850,000)

Lee is a bonafide club hero for his part in Rotherham's quick rise to prominence and particularly that goal against Brentford. Coming from Burnley, Lee's pace and power was an integral part of the Millers' surprise promotion to the second tier and he got better from there. His 16 goals in the 2002/03 season, as Moore’s men claimed a 16th-placed finish, saw him win a call-up to the Republic Of Ireland squad. That soon attracted interest from suitors and after the Millers couldn’t tie him down to a long-term deal he followed in the footsteps of Fortune-West and joined Cardiff for a new club record.

Following his arrival in south Wales, Lee failed to nail down a regular spot and ended the season with just three goals. He didn’t fare much better the following year and moved to Ipswich midway through the 2005/06 season where he enjoyed a much better time of it. He then moved to Crystal Palace before ending his playing days at Huddersfield.

Verdict: JURY’S OUT

Will Hoskins (Watford, £1.2 million combined with Lee Williamson)

Hoskins was heralded as a boy-wonder following an impressive youth career which saw him represent England and he marked his arrival in the first team with two stunning goals to give the Millers a Boxing Day victory at Wigan, aged just 17. He struggled to maintain his development and fitness until finding his way into the side under Alan Knill and excelled in the 2006/07 season, scoring 16 goals in 27 appearances in a team that ultimately went down. With financial oblivion on the horizon, Hoskins and team-mate Williamson were the only saleable assets and the club cashed in, selling the pair to Premier League Watford for over £1million.

Hoskins played nine times for the Hornets in the top division as they suffered relegation, but was out on loan at Millwall by September of the next season. He joined Bristol Rovers in 2010 and had a fine season, bagging 20 goals in 47 appearances, which was enough to earn him a move to Brighton. But an injury-ravaged three years on south coast saw him make less than 20 appearances for the Seagulls and, aged only 28, he is currently without a club.

Verdict: FAILURE

Reuben Reid (West Brom, £200,000)

Reid had endured a nomadic start to his career until Mark Robins took a chance on him ahead of the 2008/09 season. Starting on minus 17 points, the Millers needed his goals and he provided the goods as he bagged 19 times in 51 appearances, including a run of 10 goals in 10 games in spring. That form was enough to tempt Championship West Brom into splashing the cash, representing a quick money-making exercise for the Millers.

Reid struggled to make the step up with the Baggies and failed to score in 20 appearances in the second tier before spending most of the next season on loan. A move to Yeovil, followed by more loan spells came after that, and he is currently at Plymouth, playing at the same level as he was at Rotherham.

Verdict: FAILURE

The Millers received £200,000 for one season of form from Reuben Reid

Adam Le Fondre (Reading, £350,000)

Given Le Fondre always used to score against the Millers for Rochdale, it proved wise business to try and sign him and that’s what they did in the summer of 2009 for a fee of £125,000, turning out to be money well spent. In his first season at Don Valley, Alfie bagged 30 goals in 51 appearances as Ronnie Moore’s men missed out on promotion by losing the play-off final at Wembley. He followed that up with 24 goals the next season, including four in a game, and his stock was so high by the time he’d scored four in five at the start of the 2011/12 campaign that Reading snapped him up for £350,000, a fee that rose considerably with add-ons.

In his first year with the Royals, Le Fondre created a niche as a super-sub as his goals from the bench help seal promotion to the Premier League, and that was where the pint-sized striker had his year in the sun. Leading the Royals’ line he scored 14 goals, including two against Chelsea, but that was not enough to preserve their status and he bagged 15 back in the Championship last term. Financial difficulties in Berkshire saw Le Fondre swap for Thames for the Taff and he joined Cardiff in the summer.

Verdict: SUCCESS

Lewis Grabban (Bournemouth, £300,000)

Taken from the scrapheap by Andy Scott ahead of the 2011/12 campaign, Grabban proved their was life after Alfie and was pretty much the only bright point of a turgid campaign under Scott, scoring 21 goals in 47 appearances, including a run of six in six. But a southern boy could not settle up north and wanted to return closer to home, with Bournemouth coughing up a reported £300,000 fee, with add-ons, in Steve Evans' first summer in charge.

The London-born striker had an average start to life with the Cherries as they won promotion to the Championship, scoring 13 times, but he took to life in the second tier like a duck to water last season and found the net 22 times in 46 games. He turned down moves to Brighton and Cardiff, penning a new deal at Dean Court, but was swayed by a transfer to Norwich this summer and has made a fast start at Carrow Road.

Verdict: SUCCESS

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