Category Archives: Players

Mickey Norbury

Will always be considered something of a hero by Rovers fans after scoring a hat trick against Scunthorpe United at Glanford in the Rovers 5-0 demolition of their rivals (see the video of Norbury’s 2nd goal below).  Former jail bird, ‘Mental’ Mickey joined Rovers in 1994 having enjoyed a good record at Preston North End; however he suffered a broken leg at Deepdale which kept him out for 18 months and his promising career never really recovered.  At Rovers he proved a decent, hardworking strike partner for the more skilful Graeme Jones, though he himself didn’t find the net throughout the whole of the 94-95 league season before suddenly scoring 5 goals in as many games.  He left the club for Halifax the following season and drifted into the non-league game where he enjoyed some success as a striker in the conference.

In January 2007, whilst Goole’s assistant manager he was handed a six year touch line ban having been charged with two accounts of foul and abusive language and threatening behaviour towards referees.   “I’ve had my share of sending’s off but never once have I threatened a referee – until this season” however happily this ban was later reduced to 182 days following an appeal.

Sometimes hot headed and occasionally reckless, Mickey was no stranger to red and yellow cards throughout his career, however his performance at Glanford Park made him a cult figure among Rovers fans, in total he made 27 appearances for the Rovers, scoring 5 times.

Laurie Sheffield

laurie sheffieldLaurie Sheffield joined the Rovers in the summer of 1965 having already established himself as a goal scorer during a three year stay at Newport County where he had broken the post war goal scoring record, scoring 27 goals during the 1964/65 season and in total scored 46 in 91 appearances for County.

His arrival at Belle Vue saw him team up with Alick Jeffrey in what is still one of Rovers’ most deadly strike forces.  Laurie’s impact was immediate, making his debut against Lincoln City at Belle Vue on the opening day of the season; he scored twice as Rovers won 4-0.

Sheffield was outstanding all season and constantly among the goals with him and Jeffrey scoring a missive 50 league goals between them, with Laurie claiming the lion’s share of 28 to finish as the clubs leading goal scorer.  His goals fired the team to the top places in division four, and in a close run in, the Rovers clinched the championship and promotion.

The following season started brightly until the tragic car accident that took the life of defender John Nicholson shook the club.  The team began to struggle for results but Laurie still continued to find the net regularly and I came as a great surprise to everyone when he joined Norwich in November 1966 for a fee of £12,000.  It caused uproar among Rovers fans who were angry at seeing one of the clubs most prized possessions depart, especially as he had already scored 14 goals that season, in just 21 appearances.

He notched a hat trick for Norwich on his debut and was a regular name on the score sheet for them, as he was during spells with Rotherham Oldham and Luton before return to Belle Vue in October 1969.  Again his impact was immediate, scoring in a 3-1 at Walsall.  Injury disrupted his second spell however and he was only able to make 17 starts for the club but still scored 7 goals before ending his career at Peterborough United.

Not the biggest of forwards, he was still excellent in the air and a strong leader of the front line, he was a talented footballer with good vision and awareness of others around him.  A genuine goal scorer, he managed 48 goals in 85 games for the club and is still, rightly considered to be one of the clubs finest ever players.

Doncaster Rovers – Laurie Sheffield

Tom Keetley

Tom Keetley Doncaster roversOne of twelve brothers, four of which played for the club during the 1920’s, Tom Keetley joined the Rovers from Bradford Park Avenue in 1923.  He went on to become one of the most significant names in the history of Doncaster Rovers.  He spent six seasons at Belle Vue and scored more than 20 goals every term, and in the process installed himself as Rovers all-time leading goal scorer with an incredible 180 goals.

During the 1926-27 season, Keetley bagged an amazing 36 league goals in 36 games, an incredible scoring record over the course of a season that never looked like being surpassed.  That was however until two years later when in 1929 Keetley finished top of the scoring charts with 40 league goals on just 32 matches, including an outstanding performance in a match at Ashington when he scored 6 of the Rovers goals in a 7-4 victory.

He was a legend whilst at Rovers, so it is understandable that consternation resounded around Belle Vue in October 1928 when he was placed on the transfer list at his own request, having had a disagreement with the board over the terms of his benefit.  Eventually however the dispute was resolved with the club guaranteeing a sum from a match to be played against Hearts.

Evidently however, the problems with the board was never totally resolved and the following summer Keetley declined to re-sign for the club, instead preferring to move back to Derbyshire to be closer to his business interests there.   The fee the club received from second division Notts County went towards offsetting the loss the club had accrued the following season, however the loss of Keetley’s goals would have left a bigger void in any team than the one on the balance sheet.

The goals continued to flow at his new club, where he still holds the club record for goals scored in a single season with 39 and he scored a total of 94 goals in 103 games for Notts County, and when his career ended in 1934 following a brief spell with Lincoln City he had made a total of 330 league appearances, with yielded a return of 284 goals.

Keetley was a goal scorer the likes of which are seldom seen, his record in a Rovers shirt (185 goals in 241 appearances in competitions for the club) is unparalleled, with the biggest surprise of all being that Rovers never achieved promotion during his time at the club, despite his goals.  Quite simply Tom Keetley is the clubs greatest ever goal scorer.

Tom Keetley Doncaster Rovers (league and FA cup)

1923/24: 40 apps, 20 goals

1924/25: 45 apps, 27 goals

1925/26: 42 apps, 24 goals

1926/27: 38 apps, 37 goals

1927/28: 43 apps, 36 goals

1928/29: 33 apps, 41 goals

 

Fran Tierney

Fran Tierney was one of the highly regarded players to come off the Crewe Alexandra production line, during a period when Dario Grady produced a number of top class talents such as Danny Murphy, Robbie Savage and Neil Lennon.

Tierney was regarded as the hottest of prospects in the early part of his career and was reportedly set for a high profile move to Liverpool in the mid 90’s before a serious knee injury scuppered the deal.

He signed for the Rovers in March 2001 having had brief spells with Notts County and Exeter City, with questions marks over his fitness still hanging over him, having never really moved on from injury.

Fran’s time at the Rovers, as throughout his career, was littered with injuries.  However when fit, he proved he had the ability to play at a much higher level.  Skilful on the ball he had great vision and awareness and could provide a quality final ball with either foot.  He is indelibly etched on the history of the club, as it was his goal in extra time which won the conference play-off final in 2003 and lifted the club back into the football league.  Sadly, injury eventually had the final say and ended the midfielder’s career in late 2004.

John Doolan

Midfielder John Doolan signed for the Rovers at the latter end of the clubs stay in the Football Conference, quickly establishing himself in the centre of Rovers midfield during the clubs rise through the divisions.

A talented midfielder, who was comfortable on the ball and always able to link play well, Doolan will be forever loved for the part he played during a splendid 3-1 win on a wintery, misty October evening at Oakwell in 2004.

Those who looked hard enough through the Barnsley fog that night, saw John enter into a ‘hard’ challenge with his opposing number, Stephen McPhail, as the two fought for the early right to ‘play’ in the middle of the park.

 McPhail ended up in a heap on the other side of the advertising hoardings, a result which forever endeared the scouse midfielder to all Rovers fans, and instantly made him, still to this day, as welcome as a skunk at a dinner party throughout Barnsley’s gloomy streets.

The return league game at Belle Vue was drenched in cries of “Watch out, Doolan’s behind you” and taunts of “Doolan’s gonna get you” as Rovers once again hammered Barnsley 4-0 with the big man himself to a rare goal, bagging the Rovers third. 

He went on to enjoy successful spells with Blackpool and Rochdale after departing Doncaster in 2005 having made 84 league appearances for the Rovers, scoring twice.

Tony Coleman

On 6th May 1966 Rovers entertained Notts County in a game they were desperate to win in order to further progress their march towards promotion with only three games remaining.

Things didn’t go well on that night at Belle Vue; Rovers struggled to get going and were frustrated by a number of ‘questionable’ decisions awarded against them by referee Mr Jack Pickles, with a number of them serving to frustrate the home side’s talented midfielder Tony Coleman.

Coleman fell victim to a number of niggling and cynical fouls in the middle of the pitch that continually went unchecked by the abstinent Pickles and his frustration was beginning to grow as each moment ticked by.

Coleman’s mood was clearly not helped by his side’s performance, as with a quarter of an hour to go the home side were 3-0 down and lucky to have registered nil.  It was at this point that County winger Tony Flower had yet another ‘coming together’ with Coleman which again went unpunished by the match official, and proved the straw which broke the camel’s back.  Coleman stood up, the ball long since having gone, and booted the visiting midfielder as if he was trying to kick him onto the main stand roof, instead leaving lying on the Belle Vue turf.  Mr Pickles immediately showed he was in possession of some cards that evening should he feel inclined to use them and promptly gave Coleman his marching orders.

After setting off on the lonely walk to the dressing room, Coleman appeared to think better of it, turned round and proceeded to punch the referee squarely in the head. 

Players from both sides were needed to separate the two and Coleman eventually left the field, to receive the backing of his chairman, who vowed to support one of his star players in any inquiry into the incident.

Inquiry there was, however it is now universally accepted that the referee swore at Coleman as he left the pitch and this prompted his about turn and subsequent Mohammed Ali impression and as a result the FA adopted a lenient approach to his punishment, handing out only a 6 week ban!

Loved by Rovers fans before the incident, Coleman became a hero on the Belle Vue terraces as a result of it.  

He left Rovers to enjoy a richly distinguished career, with the hard man winning the Forth Division with Rovers that year and going on to win the league championship and FA cup with Manchester City.

Brian Deane

He fit the bill as the archetypal front man of the day.  At 6’3” tall he was big and strong, good in the air and held the ball up well, allied with decent pace and the ability to run in behind defenders, Brian Deane had all the necessary qualities as a front man.

Undoubtedly talented though still quite raw as he entered the first team, having been nurtured through the ranks, he performed well in a Rovers side which struggled, and eventually established himself as the teams talisman whilst still a teenager, ending the 1987-88 season as the team’s top scorer with a creditable 10 league goals.

With financial problems never far away, a move for one a the clubs most saleable assets always looked on the cards and in the summer of 1988, Sheffield Utd acquired his services for a poultry £30,000.

He went on to develop as his early promise suggested he might, scoring the goals which took Sheffield Utd to the top league in England.  Indeed, he had the honour of scoring the first ever Premier League goal in 1992 when he scored an early strike against Manchester Utd and went on to win 3 caps for England.  His goals consistently caught the eye and he moved to Leeds for £2.9m in 1993.

He continued to play at the highest level and moved briefly back to Bramhall Lane in 1992 for £1.5m before spells with Benfica, Middlesbrough, Leicester, West Ham, Leeds again and Sunderland.  Over the course of his career he amassed transfer fees totalling in excess of £8.5m and scored over 200 goals making him the jewel that the Rovers unearthed and then sold for relative peanuts

Jack Ashurst

Jack joined in 1988 aged 34 years for a reported fee of £15,000 from Leeds Utd. He brought with him vast experience and excellent organisational skills.  He was a tough central defender who could read the game extremely well and was never flustered, regardless of the situation in front of him.

He had a tremendous influence on the players around him and proved to be an excellent, strong leader on the pitch, qualities which were recognised as he was installed as club captain shortly after joining and was awarded the supporters club player of in his first season.

Jack was released in May 1990 having turned down the offer of a new contract from the club in order to concentrate on business interests away from the game and joined non-league Bridlington Town.  Five months later however, Rovers boss Billy Bremner convinced him to re-sign as short term cover for widespread injuries in the Rovers defensive personnel.  This short term agreement eventually lasted two years as Ashurst continued to turn in a number of reliable performances before he eventually left the club in August 1992, joining Rochdale on a non-contract basis.

Such was his impact, it was considered – in times of crisis, call jack!  He was an ever reliable, excellent footballer who was a real fans favourite and made a total of 149 appearances for the Rovers.

Eddie Gormley

Joining the club on a free transfer in July 1990 from Tottenham Hotspur, the Irish midfielder went on to make 128 appearances and scored 17 goals during three years in South Yorkshire.

Eddie was an all action, box to box midfielder with the ability to drag his team back into a game. He won the player of the year award in 1992 and 1993 and was affectionately known as ‘Steady Eddie’ as the fans pleaded with him to go steady in the middle of the park, a tireless runner with a creative flair and eye for goal from long range he was a big hit with the fans until his departure, deciding to play in his native Ireland, where he enjoyed a suitably successful career.  During his time in South Yorkshire he made 128 apps, and scored 17 goals.

Tom Keetley

One of twelve brothers, four of which played for the club during the 1920’s, Tom Keetley joined the Rovers from Bradford Park Avenue in 1923.  He went on to become one of the most significant He spent six seasons at Belle Vue and scored more than 20 goals every term,  and is Rovers all-time leading goal scorer with an incredible 180 goals.

During the 1926-27 season, Keetley bagged an amazing 36 league goals in 36 games, an incredible scoring record over the course of a season that never looked like being surpassed.  That was however until two years later when in 1929 Keetley finished top of the scoring charts with 40 league goals on just 32 matches, including an outstanding performance in a match at Ashington when he scored 6 of the Rovers goals in a 7-4 victory.

He was a legend whilst at Rovers, so it is understandable that consternation resounded around Belle Vue in October 1928 when he was placed on the transfer list at his own request, having had a disagreement with the board over the terms of his benefit.  Eventually however the dispute was resolved with the club guaranteeing a sum from a match to be played against Hearts.

Evidently however, the problems with the board was never totally resolved and the following summer Keetley declined to re-sign for the club, instead preferring to move back to Derbyshire to be closer to his business interests there.   The fee the club received from second division Notts County went towards offsetting the loss the club had accrued the following season, however the loss of Keetley’s goals would have left a bigger void in any team than the one on the balance sheet.

The goals continued to flow at his new club, where he still holds the club record for goals scored in a single season with 39 and he scored a total of 94 goals in 103 games for Notts County, and when his career ended in 1934 following a brief spell with Lincoln City he had made a total of 330 league appearances, with yielded a return of 284 goals.

Keetley was a goal scorer the likes of which are seldom seen, his record in a Rovers shirt (185 goals in 241 appearances in competitions for the club) is unparalleled, with the biggest surprise of all being that Rovers never achieved promotion during his time at the club, despite his goals.  Quite simply Tom Keetley was the clubs greatest ever goal scorer.