Author Archives: The Gaffer

Darren Ferguson leaves – Did he bottle it?

The dust has settled a bit now on last week.  Darren Ferguson has gone and speculation as to who could be the next Doncaster Rovers manager is now in full swing.

Doncaster Rovers Doncaster Free Press


However, once the dust settles it usually means a clearer vantage is available and I have become increasing frustrated as my view of the scots departure has sharpened.

It does, to me at least, smack of someone who has, for want of a better phrase “bottled it”. This coming season would be one where reputations are placed on the line.  An accepted season of consolidation under our belts, now expectations turn towards some progression and upward mobility. We are getting to crunch time. In this position a manager shows his real worth, bringing in the missing pieces in personnel, the odd tactical change and astute shuffle, lines the troops up and unleash them on a successful season. Do this, press for the top 6 and reputations are enhanced on and off the field, stocks rise, futures brighten.

Fail to do this, stand still or even worse spend 10 months drudging through a relegation battle and the opposite starts to happen and people begin to reminisce about when “that Darren Ferguson used to be a decent manager”.

Moaning about a unsatisfying budget at Doncaster Rovers is like moaning that a McDonalds cheeseburger doesn’t contain a nice artisan blue cheese and the finest, corn fed wagyu beef.  What did you expect? The budget must’ve been clear for months and months if not longer to the manager. It strikes me that it wasn’t so much the budget that changed than the amount of money the manager required to throw at the squad to cover his own deficiencies.

At previous jobs he’s had the luxury of throwing hundreds of thousands of pounds at players to provide a smokescreen for his own tactical and managerial failings, but in South Yorkshire there is not that kind of money to waste so a bit more nouse is required to frugally stretch out funds, a Yorkshire staple after all.

Looks like bottom line is that faced with this challenge and the threat to his personal reputation he has walked, clearly without the stomach for the fight. Walking away from a board who could’ve sacked him twice in the last two years (once for an appalling run which cost us relegation 2 years ago and once when another dreadful run cost us the league two title 12 months ago) without so much a gentle blush over the failure to repay that faith shown in him, when many others would’ve shown him the door.  Even this season we have seen a side regularly performing to a level less than the sum of its parts and a transfer policy that has brought virtually no improvement on the side including a six figure fee for a midfielder who can’t get in the team regularly.

It’s not just the fact of him whimpering away, it’s also the timing. Now we are left trying to find a replacement alongside a host of other clubs scrabbling around for a manager, in time for him to rake through what is left among a grave yard of already cherry picked transfer targets.  I can’t help but think it all feels like a bitter betrayal. We are no better off in real terms, than when he took over in October 2015.

Some people have blamed the board and the budget for forcing Ferguson to leave. No way, rather than be held to ransom over money which could jeopardise the future wellbeing of the club I’d have got rid of him, no problem.  If that’s the decision the board had to make I’m pleased we parted company, even if it provided Ferguson with the self preservation, ‘get out while the reputation is in tact’ exit he craved.  My disappointment rests solely on a manager who didn’t give his club what it deserved, or what it had given him. The self styled, fiery Scot, who takes no messing around is gone with a quiet whimper under a cover of excuses.  Shame, I hope we get someone made of sterner stuff this summer.

Doncaster Rovers 1990-91 season review video

90’s Football is fashionable, its official.  There is a wealth of Podcasts, books and websites celebrating the glorious decade when football came home, Football meant glamour, and the Premier League showed us the game wasn’t ours but it was a product that we should pay through the nose for and then have it rammed down our throats.  90’s Football is everywhere at the minute.  Brilliant.

Only I’m a Doncaster Rovers fan and the 90’s were, well, often a bit crap.  More than that though, hardly anyone else was bothered what was happening in the Fourth Division so video clips and nostalgia are a bit thin on the ground.

Fear not, I’m going to trek through the decades to bring it all flooding back and I’ve even been wasting more time on iMovie making childish videos to truly bring those heady days back to life.  A new one every week or so, starting with 1990-91: (video at the bottom)

Doncaster Rovers 1990-91.

There was some unusual optimism around for the start of the 1990-91 season. Italia 90 had captured the imagination of the whole country and while the Rovers previous season had been well, largely crap, there were signs that this year might be different. Inconsistency had been a key failing as Rovers finished 5th from bottom in 89-90 but the run in the Leyland DAF trophy, which had taken us to within 90 minutes of Wembley, had shown there was some quality in the side. New additions Andy Holmes, Brendan Ormsby, Paul Crichton and highly rated young midfielder Eddie Gormley were brought into Billy Bremner’s squad to complement some talented youngsters like Samways, Rankine, Brevett and Noteman. There was already a promising partnership forming between strikers David ‘Bruno’ Jones and John Muir, who had combined to good effect during the latter half of the previous campaign and the feeling was, that if we were lucky with injuries, then who knows?
Things started better than anyone could’ve wished for as Rovers won their first 5 league games, with Jones and Muir scoring 8 goals between them. Inevitably though, the clubs fragile luck faltered, and in the 5th game of that run, striker David Jones suffered a serious neck injury which forced him into DRI and Rovers good form with him. The next 4 games were all lost before inconsistency reigned once more but by mid January, after an excellent 4-0 win at home to Carlisle, Rovers were third and just 1 point behind the leaders. Gormley was excellent in Midfield, Jack Ashurst had come back in and steadied the defence and Lee Turnbull and Neil Grayson had scored important goals.
Once again though, it didn’t last. Financial pressures off the field (a massive unpaid tax bill to be precise) saw the clubs prize asset Rufus Brevett sold to QPR for a club record fee of £275,000. Rankine picked up an injury and Jones never regained fitness.
After Brevett’s exit Rovers won only 4 of the last 18 games and despite staying in the play off race right into April ended up 11th. The defence coped well with Ashurst and Ormsby at its heart, but at the other end the goals had dried up at a crucial time and key injuries had taken their toll. The squad was just too light and the budget did not allow any reinforcements to push them over the line.

In the scheme of things, and compared to the dross the Rovers faithful had been subjected to in recent years, it had been a decent, if frustrating season. Rovers had been close to getting it right, but a requirement to pay the bills had seen them fall short.

John Muir top scored with 13 league goals, Kevin Noteman, who played the last dozen or so games at left back was next with 7 (illustrating where the problems had been), whilst Colin Douglas played all 46 league games, presumably some of them sober.






Doncaster Rovers defensive analysis – Midfield shadow boxers

I’m a bit of a stats buff to be honest. I happily while away a few post match hours looking at graphs on possession and shots on goal and the newly fashionable ‘expected goals’ data brings plenty more colourful charts to the party.
This seasons surprisingly decent opening few results caught me a bit off guard but when I was watching and re watching our games highlights something about the goals we were conceding seemed to nag away at me. I decided to turn to some data and make some pretty diagrams of my own to try to make sense of it and illustrate those doubts accurately.

We have predominately played a midfield diamond so far this season; now I have my reservations about this because at times last season I thought it left our usually lacklustre or part time full backs exposed when teams set up against us with numbers out wide.
Doncaster Rovers defensive analysis 3Anyway, the nagging doubt I had this season was not directly towards our full backs or indeed the back four, but the midfield, so with my ‘Moneyball’ hat on I stated plotting the goals we have conceded on a diagram. I have charted the area of the pitch which led to the assist or a major contributing factor (a turnover of possession, key pass etc) marked with an ‘X’ and also where the goal scoring shot was taken from, marked with a red spot. The thing that jumps out from this (apart from my amateur photoshop skills) is that most of the goals we have conceded (7 out of 8) have originated from the inside left and right midfield areas, or the ‘sides’ of the diamond formation, usually occupied by Matty Blair and Tommy Rowe.

Doncaster Rovers defensive analysisBlair is at his best when he is going forward operating as a wide man, head down, using his pace to get to the byline and deliver crosses or burst into the box at pace. He can’t do that with freedom in a diamond and coupled with the understandable personal problems he has been dealing with, has not been at his most effective; his defensive work is certainly not the strongest facet of his game.
Doncaster Rovers defensive analysis Tommy Rowe

Tommy Rowe is unquestionably a good player, but I do think he has a tendency to drift in and out of games. He really wants to play more advanced, at the top of the diamond in a number 10 role, but whilst James Coppinger continues to roll back the years he is forced to play deeper. Rowe is good going forward, but doesn’t give enough when defending on a consistent basis and is sometimes absent when teams are running onto us.
Doncaster Rovers defensive analysis Matty BlairThe biggest midfield issue for me though is that we are not aggressive enough, both in the tackle but also in our closing down and harrying of the opposition, both individually (including the centrally positioned Ben Whiteman) and as a unit. In spells it feels more like a training exercise in shepherding players around than a belief and desire to win the ball (big contrast between the two sides in the Blackpool game – they snapped into every challenge and always looked hungry for the ball and a result) and too often our midfield three have been shrugged off by people running at them, something Tommy Rowe has been guilty of a couple of times in the lead up to goals.

Defensively, Rowe and Blair are a little bit like square pegs in round holes but if they are to play in these areas of the pitch then they are going to have to work harder out of possession and try to add some bite to the midfield otherwise we will continue to be vulnerable through the midfield or the personnel in there will have to change –  a shame given what they offer going forward; the stats speak for themselves…

Why John Marquis should leave Doncaster Rovers and Why Andy Williams is key if he stays

John Marquis Doncaster roversThere’s a large amount of speculation surrounding Rovers striker John Marquis at the minute, the sort of ‘will he wont he’, ‘we’re doomed without him’ woe that is more akin to some tedious Coronation street story line than the status quo at the Keepmoat.
Strip all the sentiment and speculation away and let’s try and look at this in real terms. Marquis scored 26 League Two goals last year, he’s 25 years old and attracted a lot of attention over the last 12 months – his stock, and his value, has never been higher. However, there are a couple of little niggles of doubt that exist for me, mainly borne out over the last couple of months of last season.

For me, the most eye-catching thing about him at the start of the season was “wow, we’ve got someone who is scoring goals, but look how hard he grafts”. The blokes application was faultless and he regularly tore around chasing down, harrying, kicking and generally making life uncomfortable for opposition defenders. It’s this, even more than his goals, that was the most stand out thing.
In the last couple of months of the season I did not see this anywhere near as much and this went along with a return of 0 goals in the last 6 games. Now, this could be down to lots of things; having Alfie ‘the workaholic’ May alongside him who happily did enough running for two meant he did not have to work as hard, maybe it was a case of someone believing their own hype, or maybe he was carrying a knock – I don’t know but for me a major part of his game ebbed away at the back-end of last season.

The other doubt for me, and I know this will sound ridiculous, is that whilst he accumulated a lot of goals, he doesn’t look like a ‘proper’ goal scorer. He’s not the kind of player who will snaffle his only chance of a game having not had a touch for 20 minutes. League Two allowed us the opportunity to create a number of chances relatively regularly and I doubt that League One defences will be quite as accommodating. I’m not sure Marquis has it in his game to turn a match out of the blue in the way a Billy Sharp or even a Paul Dobson (there’s a name many will have forgotten!) would’ve done.
Would now be the time to cash in?  If a club came in with a couple of hundred grand I would be tempted when the likelihood is he’ll walk away for nothing in 12 months. If he struggles in League One that price tag will quickly reduce. I don’t know, in an ideal world I’d give him 2 months, watch him score a load of goals and then offer him a bumper deal but at this moment any decent offer would be tempting.

andy williams doncasterTo be clear though, I’d rather keep him and for me John Marquis needs an Andy Williams alongside him. Too often when playing as a lone front man, or in front of a deeper forward, Marquis spends too much time with his back to goal, isolated and obliged to hold balls up. When he has a player alongside him who offers a threat ‘in behind’ he appears far more effective and benefits greatly from the extra space this affords him.
Williams, for all his hand throwing, exclaiming, tantrum throwing faults offers that threat and doesn’t want to drop deep, into Marquis’s space. When Williams is in the team, opposition back fours are forced to drop 10 yards deeper allowing Marquis time and space to turn and be at his most effective, as well as allowing the like of James Coppinger and Tommy Rowe room to be at their creative best. However, Williams up top means someone needs to be working hard behind him, and it’s this graft we saw from Marquis at the start of the season and when we largely saw his best form.
Bottom line is Williams is only staying with us because there is no one to bring in who is better than him. Perfect he ‘aint, but at the minute he’s right for us and he’s right for John Marquis too.

If I were John I’d be asking my agent to sort out a move.  One of the country’s top scorers last season, if he stays with the Rovers he will spend next season playing in a bang average team who will struggle to make chances and struggle to score goals.  It will be hard for anyone to enhance their reputation at Rovers next year, and if I were him I’d get out while the goings good.

When did it become ok not to win?

I’m angry, well hurt really. People say “well promotion was the aim anyway, that’s what matters” and “you’d have taken promotion before the season” but that just makes me more angry. If the point is not coming first then what is it? Seriously, why do we bother, with any of it? If it’s not the point to come first then why give out medals for doing so? Why did I spend years of my youth pouring over an embarrassingly sparse and almost contradictory ‘Honours’ column of our club, wondering what it would be like to see a team who were good enough to add their names to such an important list.

Try telling the 10 year old me that it doesn’t matter if we finish first or not. I could almost see some logic in that if we were one of European footballs fallen giants and getting out of the bottom division were merely an inconvenient but necessary step to getting back to where we should be.

The fact is we are Doncaster Rovers, this IS our level, here or hereabouts is where we have been for the last 60 years generally speaking and I can’t recall a single moment of the 80’s or 90’s where I wouldn’t have gladly offered any limb of your choice for the chance to be crowned champions of anything. This appalling attitude of ‘it doesn’t really matter’ is symptomatic of the sickening arrogance that runs through the game these days, a game where even it’s most average exponents earn money that would change the lives of most us.

I would love someone will the opportunity to do so, to ask Darren Ferguson to justify his part in this embarrassing conclusion to the season. To ask him for his thought process over recent weeks.  Why he has made consistent changes to personnel and shape when all the evidence screams it was unnecessary? Ask why last week when a win would’ve put us in charge of winning a trophy he lined up with one up front at home? Ask him if today, in what was basically a cup final, he could honestly say that replacing McCullough and Coppinger made our team stronger, and if not – as is so painfully the case, why did he do it? Why did he treat the competition and paying public with such contempt as to withdraw our two best players. I knew then that it was game over. I’m angered by the fact the we simply acquiesced to defeat and snatched it from the jaws of victory.

The most alarming point of the day was that in going behind there was no angry reaction from the players, no desire to change things, no kick up the arses, no hurrying to restart play, no will to win. I’m not saying they don’t care, of course not; I’m saying that at some point over the last few weeks it became acceptable not to win. It became acceptable during Paul Dickov’s reign, it became acceptable during a three month spell under Ferguson last year and it has become acceptable once more. The general malaise around the club has returned and it makes me feel sick. Let’s all feel relieved this season is over, if we still had 10 games left I wouldn’t back us to make the play offs.

I hope all concerned with the club enjoy their summer holiday and return determined to right the wrongs of the last month. I will spend the next few months trying to convince myself that next year will be different because we are back in League One, but the fact will remain that we blew it. We blew the chance to win something, to add another piece to history, to our history. Doing just that meant something to me and it hurts that didn’t. The first time that it doesn’t, the first time ‘I’d take’ second best I’m packing it in, when that’s acceptable then what’s the point?


Doncaster Rovers Shirt Gallery

Doncaster Rovers Shirt Gallery

Over the past few years the world of ‘vintage’ or ‘retro’ (or in the words of my wife  ‘Scruffy and old’) Rovers shirts has been one which I have become increasingly immersed in.  Turns out I have got quite a few now and so I thought I would stick them online in the hope that others may enjoy them as I do.

I am always keen to add to the collection so if you have a shirt which I haven’t got and you are willing to part with it or looking to sell one, let me know at

Here is the Doncaster Rovers Shirt gallery:

Doncaster Rovers home shirt 1989 – 1990.

Love this shirt.  Always makes me think of Les Robinson.


Doncaster Rovers home shirt 1990 – 1991.

As worn by Duggie, Rankine, Noteman, Gormley.



Doncaster Rovers home shirt 1991-1992.

Slightly different collar to the previous year.  This change was made to both replica and player issue.


Doncaster Rovers away shirt 1990 – 1992.

Love a green away shirt.  This one makes me think John Muir


Doncaster Rovers home shirt 1992 – 1993.

Classic jagged hoops. – Mike Jeffrey



Doncaster Rovers away shirt 1992 – 1993.

Classic Seaweed



Doncaster Rovers home shirt 1993-94.

Jagged hoops, alternative sponsor.  Get a print of this shirt here..



Doncaster Rovers home shirt 1994-1995.

Graeme Jones, John Schofield, Gary Brabin.



Doncaster Rovers away shirt 1995/96

Doncaster Rovers away shirt 1995-1996. **NEW**

This is a really nice away shirt.  Mine has Football League badges and bears the number 7 on the back.. Presumably player issue / match worn… Probably by John Schofield.

Doncaster Rovers home shirt 1996-1997.

Colin Cramb, Darren Moore, Paul Birch.



Doncaster Rovers away shirt 1996/97

Doncaster Rovers away shirt 1996-1997.


Despite the dodgy badge and the fact that it’s yellow I have grown to like this shirt.  Cramb, Moore, Ian Gore et al.

Doncaster Rovers home shirt 1998 – 1999.

First season in the conference.  I picked this up before the club had agreed a shirt sponsor.  Ian Duerden, Lee Warren.


Doncaster Rovers away shirt 1999 – 2000.

often forgotten away shirt, second year in the conference.


Doncaster Rovers home shirt 2000-2001

Doncaster Rovers home shirt 2000 – 2001


Can’t shake the sight of Carl Alford spooning one into the Asda carpark whenever I see this shirt.


Doncaster Rovers away shirt 2000 – 2001.

Another away shirt, think Carl Alford, Jimmy Kelly.



Doncaster Rovers away shirt 2001 – 2002.

Paul Barnes…



Doncaster Rovers away shirt 2002 – 2003.

Mark Albrighton, Paul Green.. John Ryan…



Doncaster Rovers home shirt 2003 – 2005.

Division three winners, Fortune-West, Blundell



Doncaster Rovers away shirt 2004 – 2005.

away shirt come third shirt.  James Coppinger



Doncaster Rovers home shirt 2005 – 2006.

Famous league cup run – McIndoe, Thornton, Coppinger.



Doncaster Rovers home shirt 2006 – 2007.

JPT trophy winners, Heffernan, Lee, Coppinger



Doncaster Rovers away shirt 2006 – 2007.

Excellent away shirt.  Think Brian Stock.  Oh and James Coppinger.



Doncaster Rovers home shirt 2007 – 2009.

Play off winners.  Jason Price, Paul Green, James Hayter, James Coppinger


Doncaster Rovers home shirt 2007 - 2009

Doncaster Rovers away shirt 2007-2009.


Think Lewis Guy at Derby.  And James Coppinger


Doncaster Rovers home shirt 2011 – 2012.

Championship side, though not much for longer.. Sharp, Diouf and Coppinger.


Doncaster Rovers home shirt 2013 – 2014.

Chris Brown.  James Coppinger.



Doncaster Rovers home shirt 2014 – 2015.

Tyson, Furman, Coppinger.



Doncaster Rovers away shirt 2014 – 2015.

Forrester, Bennett, Coppinger.



Doncaster Rovers away shirt 2015 – 2016.

Williams, Butler, Coppinger



Doncaster Rovers home shirt 2016 – 2017.

Marquis, Rowe and Coppinger



Doncaster Rovers away shirt 2016 – 2017.

Houghton, Baudry and Coppinger.



DRFC – Top moustachioed eleven of all time

Doncaster Rovers – Top moustachioed eleven of all time

Doncaster Rovers best moustache 11At times I don’t think I’m all there really.  Whilst in front of the mirror mindlessly hacking away at my face recently I, for some still unknown reason, started to think about Rovers players from the past with memorable facial hair.  This slowly meandered into those with full beards, smaller beards and of course led to moustaches only.

My own shave over, this brief idling of time and mind should’ve ended there too, but no.  I found myself with a pen and paper and decided to come up with a best 11.  Not only that but it had to have clear boundaries.  Inclusions had to have 3 key features.  1.  Moustache only – fair enough if they had sported other variants but their selection in this band had to be based on top lip only.  2. I had to find a picture of them with lip foliage, in their Rovers days, to get in.  Only those hairs cultivated during a spell with Rovers would qualify.  3.Entry based primarily on facial hair, not ability, though this would be used as a tie breaker should two moustaches reach a similar level.

Ian Snodin Doncaster Rovers

Rovers Snod – No
Everton Snod – Yes
Harsh, but rules are rules

Ian Snodin did not make it based on the rules above…. When with us, teenage Snodin could only manage this rather poor, lightweight version which just didn’t cut the mustard.  Everton Snod would have made it easily, the grown up tache was splendid, but check rule 2, he doesn’t qualify.. (I’m not here to win friends, this is serious).



Here we go:

Doncaster rovers Willie Boyd

1. Boyd – GK

1. Willie Boyd.  Not much to choose from Keeper wise, though in truth Willie is there on merit.   Tremendous ‘dark smudge’ style effort.  Big favourite among the Belle Vue faithful.




Doncaster rovers Willie Boyd

2. Les Robinson – RB

2.  Les Robinson.  Elegant and gentrified, a moustache which makes me feel proud.  Not just a smart moustache, Les was a top full back.  He was always reliable from the spot, always seemed to put them in the same place, always scored.  Les is our penalty taker too.



Fred Robinson Doncaster Rovers

3. Fred Robinson – LB

3.  Fred Robinson.  Reliable and consistent left back who made over 100 appearances for Doncaster Rovers during the 70’s.

Look at the weight of that ‘tache, truly a belter and contender for “top ‘tache”.



Doncaster Rovers Dave Cusack

4. Dave Cusack – CB

4.  Dave Cusack.  Two spells in the 80’s over 100 games, almost exclusively with insulation on his lip.  During his second spell he became player manager at the age of 29.  Given his managerial experience, he is duly installed as Player manager too.



Carl Swan Doncaster Rovers

5. Carl Swan – CB

5.  Carl Swan.  Enough said really.  Well known in the football world, subject of a book; but look at the quality of moustache, that is everything I could’ve asked for.  An absolute cracker, just about the definitive footballers moustache.



Joe Laidlaw Doncaster Rovers

6. Joe Laidlaw – CM

6.  Joe Laidlaw.  Hard tackling midfielder who could play as well.  Notched a club record of 8 converted penalties in a season.  Top player, top moustache.




an Miller Doncaster Rovers

7. Ian Miller – RW

7.  Ian Miller.  Flying winger, ‘windy’ provided ample ammo for his strikers during the 70’s and was supremely talented out wide – with a brilliant tache to boot.  Seriously, check out the bristles on that.  It’s not clear whether to shave them or sweep the drive with that?



ncaster Rovers Dave Bentley

8. Dave Bentley – CM

8.  Dave Bentley.  Classy, ball playing midfielder for the club at the end of the 70’s.  The quality of his moustache, allied with his ability on the ball means he is our playmaker.  Look at that beauty, bet you couldn’t get a comb through that.



Doncaster Rovers Peter Kitchen

9. Peter Kitchen

9.  Peter Kitchen.  One of the clubs most efficient accumulator of goals, Kitch scored over 20 goals a season consistently, all with a tache which matched his considerable goal scoring prowess.  Simple tache, but effective.  Does what you’d expect, no frills.  Played with great effect up top in the 70’s with alongside….


Doncaster Rovers Brendan O'Callaghan

10. Brendan O’Callaghan

10.  Brendan O’Callaghan.  Peter Kitchen’s partner in goals and facial hair.  The pair terrorized defences in the 70’s and they were the only partnership we could have gone for.  Big Bren’s ‘Horse Shoe’ as known in the trade, is a proper mans ‘tache.



Doncaster Rovers Glynn Snodin

11. Glynn Snodin – LW

11.  Glynn Snodin.  Went through the full range of facial hair through the 70’s and early 80’s but the example I unearth showed a neatly refined example of a moustache, matching his play and getting him into the 11.

There you have it, an hour or so of my life I’ll never get back, but a selection like that deserves commemorating nevertheless. Let me know if you have any additions. I may go and do something a bit more productive now. Wait a minute, I wonder which Rovers players are left handed…

The Team in Full.  Who has the best ‘tache?

Doncaster Rovers best moustache 11


Doncaster Rovers, Kowalski, Darby, NimmoSubs:

Andy Kowalski,


Duane Darby.


Ian Nimmo,



Retro Rovers Video – Doncaster Rovers v Wigan Feb 1997

Doncaster v wigan 1997 videoThis was a superb game, honestly it was.  I know on the face of it its a 2-0 win.  At home.  Against Wigan.  But honestly it was.  Perhaps some context would help..

It was during a period where Ken Richardson’s destructive hands were tightening around the throat of the club.  It was widely rumoured that manager Kerry Dixon didn’t get to pick the team, we looking very likely to exit the football league and were on a run which had seen us pick up 2 points from the last 7 games.  We were going one way.

In contrast, Wigan were going up and up.  They were on their way to claim the Division 3 title and commence their rise to the Premier League.  Graeme Jones was returning to Belle Vue for the first time since his summer move to Wigan and was on fire.  He would go on to finish as the league’s top scorer and among the highest in Europe as he would find the net 31 times for Wigan during 96/97.  Put all that together then and the inevitable outcome was another heavy defeat.

Something happened however, Dixon must have wrestled back some sway in terms of team selection as Paul Birch was reinstalled to midfield (tragically Paul Birch would lose a battle with illness a few years later) and his quality shone through above everything else on show.  Well past his best with us, Birch totally ran this game and allied with a couple of pieces of genuine quality from Colin Cramb (not least the first goal, including the typical celebration) along with good performances from Darren Moore and Ian Gore, (who shackled Jones throughout) John Schofield and Martin McDonald, Rovers produced a shock result.  This was the start of a run of 4 wins in 5 which granted a stay of execution until the following year and was a rare highlight during 1997.

Rovers:  1.Williams  2.Cunningham  3.Darren Esdaille  4.Moore  5.Gore  6.Birch  7.Schofield  8.McDonald  9.Mike  10.Cramb  11.Ireland.  12.Warren (for Birch)

This was 20 years ago.  I can’t believe it really.  Listen out for Ken Avis on the tannoy too..



Doncaster Rovers Retro Shirts and Memory lane

Doncaster Rovers Retro Shirts and Memory lane

(If you are interested in Retro shirts check out the link at the bottom of this page)

Over the past few years the world of ‘vintage’ or ‘retro’ (or in the words of my wife  ‘Scruffy and old’) Rovers shirts has been one which I have become increasingly immersed in.
The hours I have spent wading through eBay online number far too many for me to justify.  I suppose part of it relates to an association of a time of my life when things were easier or more simple.  I had those shirts myself and wore them proudly to school during a period of my life where there was no work stresses to cut short a nights sleep, no anxiety around money or whether the kids were safe.  The only concern I had then was whether it was chips for tea and if there were any Kit Kats; life was safe and easy and so a glimpse back into that time is always welcome.
More than that though, it’s something about my relationship with football and with our club and on such trips down memory lane, I am always struck by just how much we forget. Memories which are always present, fondly cradled and held dear are sometimes unknowingly smudged around the edges just enough so that the fact remains but the feeling is forgotten. Fortunately, usually not much is required to put sound to the picture or warmth to the fire.
When I stare at those shirts somehow I am almost bowled over by the surprises, and the details that I previously couldn’t see despite their being in the front of my mind’s eye.
For a spell I was back on the Railway sleeper which was once home in Belle Vue’s Mainstand, the feeling of climbing up its bouncy, creaking wooden steps and out onto the stand to catch that first glimpse of the always immaculate greenery, before taking my seat, like three generations of my family had done previously. All feelings that raced into my head, with a million more of thrilling victories and glorious defeat. .  The ‘jagged hoops’ of the early 1990’s took me back to Mike Jeffrey’s virtuoso second half display at home to Bury where we still managed to lose 3-2 and the remarkable 4-3 win later that year at home to Scarborough (Trust me, Steve Prindiville’s free kick that day was the finest you will ever see) and the hours drift by as the memories flood through.

The facts were always present, but the feelings had been forgotten and these little pieces of history are the time capsules which for me, prove to be the catalyst for reliving times gone by and I would urge everyone who has a piece of yesterday, be it a shirt or a programme, scarf or ticket stub , to take a visit down memory lane, to find that little something, nudge or prompt that kicks the feelings back into the memories and enables you, just as I did, to remember.  Petrol was cheap, footballers were normal blokes, and footy shirts were proper . Enjoy it for a couple of minutes then get on with things, todays not bad either – We’re top of the league after all.

** I wont bore you with the details of how I came to make them, but if you need help to re visit the early 1990’s, check out these Prints £5.99 with free postage – Proper football shirt from the 1990’s – Click Here and view **

Rovers Video – Goalscorers

Doncaster Rovers Video – Goals

Spent the afternoon learning how to use iMovie.  Instead of doing something useful I put together some clips of what you may consider some ‘Goalscorers’ of Rovers recent past, Cramb, Heffernan, Sharp, Hayter and Marquis….

I better go and do something productive now…