Category Archives: Players

Fred Emery

Following brief spells with Lincoln City and Bradford City, Fred joined the Rovers in the summer of 1924 but had to wait until December to make his debut in a 1-0 win at home to Hartlepool when he was drafted in a replacement to the injured full back Wigglesworth.  He made a total of just 11 appearances that season but did play in 4 of the final 5 games, beginning the following season firmly in the first team; he missed just 4 games all year.

A talented and composed player he was primarily used as a left half but he had enough quality to play anywhere in defence.  Always reliable and a consistent performer he became a key element in the Rovers team, eventually being made club captain for the start of the 1932-33 season.

It was under his guidance as team captain that Rovers won the third division North championship during the 1934-35 season, again a picture of consistency he played in all of the clubs first 37 league games again providing a key component in the Rovers defence.

It was as a result of this experience as skipper, allied with the high regard with which he was held at Belle Vue that led to his appointment as player manager in 1936, filling the vacancy left by David Menzies departure.  He combined playing with the role of manager for a short time, with his final appearance in a Rovers shirt coming away at Tottenham in April 1936 and the following season the team felt his absence on the pitch hard as they conceded 84 league goals and were relegation back to division three.

Emery subsequently enjoyed some success over the next two seasons as manager, guiding the club to runners up spot in division 3 twice, just narrowly missing out on returning the team to the second division before the outbreak of the second world war meant a break in the league structure, with Emery ending his association with the club in 1940.

He went on to manage Carlisle United for a seven year spell between 1951 and 1958, having replaced future Liverpool manager Bill Shankly, before his death a year later in 1959.

A fixture in the Rovers side for over a decade, he holds the record for the highest number of appearances by a Rovers player, making a total of 437 appearances and scoring 31 goals.

Syd Bycroft

Joined Doncaster Rovers in January 1936 having made a name for himself playing in the midland league with Grantham Town.  His debut was not long in coming, lining up in the Rovers first team for second division match at Swansea as a centre forward.  Rovers were beaten comfortably 2-0 and Bycroft spent the next few weeks in the Rovers reserves where he was ‘reinvented’ as a centre half, making such progress that he was brought back into the team in March and played in all the clubs final 7 games at the heart of the defence and remained a regular from then on.

Syd’s career was interrupted by the start of the Second World War when he was assigned the role of Police officer following the suspension of the Football League schedule, however he continued to play regularly for the club during the war and when the League resumed in 1946 he was once again an integral part of the team.

He missed just 1 match during the clubs record breaking season in winning the third division championship in 1946-47 and over the subsequent years he became the foundation of the Rovers teams, and the team once again won the third division title in 1950 with Bycroft ever present throughout the whole season.

He retired from playing at the end of the 1951-52 season, but having qualified as a coach a few years previously, he stayed on with the club assisting with the coaching and training sessions.  

In January 1958, following the shock departure of Peter Doherty, Bycroft and trainer Jack Hodgson were placed in joint charge of team affairs until the end of the season.  The pairs first game in charge was be chance, against Peter Doherty’s new team, Bristol City which Rovers won 2-1.  The season had not been going well for Rovers who were struggling in Division 2 and despite winning their opening game, Bycroft and Hodgson could only guide the team to one further win all season with the club subsequently relegated.  Bycroft and Hodgson went back to their former duties and a new manager was installed, with Bycroft finally leaving the club in 1959 after 23 years with the Rovers.

He made 333 League appearances for the club, scoring twice, but the reality is that had it not been for the war, he would surely have become the clubs record league appearance holder (he made in excess of 150 further appearances for the club in the war time competitions).  He had a reputation for being one of the toughest centre halves in the game, he was fierce in the tackle and was a hard, uncompromising man on the field, but a gentleman off it, he will be forever on of the clubs greats.

Clarrie Jordan

Clarrie signed on as Rovers player just a few weeks before the start of the Second World War began in 1939, meaning he was forced to wait until the Football league resumed its schedule in 1946 before he recorded his league debut.  However the war years saw the club placed in the East Midlands league which provided 20 competitive matches as well as organising a number of ‘friendly’ matches which saw a number of guest players used as well as a number of younger players brought in from the reserve side, including a 17 year old centre forward called .

Jordan in turn made a number of guest appearances for other sides such as Leeds United and Derby County, but turned down their advances with offers of a full time deal after the war in order to return to the Rovers.

By 1942 Clarrie was regularly included in the Rovers team, scoring over 20 goals in the two season prior to the end of the war finishing as the clubs leading marksman in each.

Jordan finally lined up to make his football league debut in 1946 in the home win over Rochdale, scoring his first goal in the following game as Rovers beat Chester 3-1.  He was instrumental in the clubs record breaking season that year as the team won the Third Division comfortably.  Jordan scored 42 league goals in 41 appearances in a remarkable season that saw him notch 4 hat tricks, with him scoring a total of 44 goals in all competitions over the course of the season.

Clarrie left the club the following season, signing for Sheffield Wednesday, much to the disappointment of the Belle Vue faithful to whom he was a hero, with Rovers receiving a reported £6,000 fee in addition to forward Arnold Lowes.  Rovers struggled with life in a higher division and with goals proving difficult to come by, particularly following Jordan’s exit, were subsequently relegated.

Jordan, who remarkably had still been working at South Kirkby Colliery throughout his time at the Rovers, turned full time as a professional footballer with Wednesday for whom he scored 32 goals in 92 appearances.

In total he made 60 league appearances for the Rovers during which he scored 48 goals, however in reality he scored more than double this for the club if his goals during the war years were included.  His 42 league goals in one season remain as a club record, as he remains a legend in the history of the football club.

Alick Jeffrey Doncaster Rovers

Alick Jeffrey Doncaster RoversBorn in Rawmarsh on the 29th January 1939 Alick Jeffrey showed early promise and played for Yorkshire and England schoolboys.  Just prior to leaving school, the Manchester united manager, Matt Busby invited Alick to sign for United only to find the youngster had already agreed to sign for Peter Doherty and join Doncaster Rovers.  Busby missed out, but promised that Jeffrey would be a united player before long.

He made his first appearance in a strong Rovers side, which was tipped to challenge for promotion from division two, at the age of only 15, in September 1954 before scoring his first goal for the club in January 1955 in the sides 3-2 win at home to Plymouth, before hitting the headlines with a splendid cup brace against first division Aston Villa.  Jeffrey had become a regular in the first team at 16 and ended the season with an impressive return of 9 goals but there was clearly more to follow.  The following year, still in his mid-teens he notched a further13 league goals but it was the following year that the youngster would really explode onto the scene.  The striker simply blew the opposition away scoring 15 times in just 13 games at the start of the 56/57 season and still only at 18 years of age was one of the hottest properties in English football.  A spell of 6 goals in 3 games prompted Busby to make good his word and United began negotiations to sign the talented forward in October 1956.  The deal all but complete, the clubs agreed Jeffrey would sign following the England under 23 international against France that month, only for fate to deliver a cruel blow.

During the game Alick sustained a double fracture to his right leg.  Complications followed forcing him out of the game with the FA eventually awarding him compensation for a career ending injury, and English football had been robbed of one of its finest young talents.

Understandably heart broken, Alick went to non-league Skegness Town determined to make a recovery, only to receive another set back by breaking his other leg.  This would surely have proved too much for most people but Jeffrey fought back for a second time and after months of further hard work he was ready to re-join Rovers and try to resurrect his career.  In late 1963, with a season best 11,719 fans turning out to witness his comeback.  Alick was soon back among the goals and his partnership with Laurie Sheffield helped the club win the league in 1966 with the pair scoring 50 goals between them.

Tragedy however was never far away and the following season Alick and club captain John Nicholson were involved in a car accident.  Devastatingly John was killed and Alick was out of action for months.  Understandably things were never quite the same from then on and Alick left the club in 1969.  In total he had made 294 appearances for the club, scoring 140 goals; he was president of the club up to his death in December 2000.
alick jeffreyAlick is universally accepted as being the clubs greatest ever player.  Tremendous with either foot, a strong, powerful runner who was a great finisher, who knows what he may have achieved had he not been injured as an 18 year old, when history was robbed of a player who could have surely gone on to be one of the greatest of a golden generation.  Even with his career at Belle Vue so devastatingly curtailed, he is still remembered with great fondness and admiration by all.

Alick Jeffrey Doncaster Rovers

Peter Kitchen

peter kitchen doncaster roversCame through the youth team before signing a professional contract with the Rovers in July 1970 under manager Lawrie McMenemy.  The talented striker made progress in reserve team football before being given his chance in a Rovers team that was finding life in the third division hard, with goals difficult to come by.  The 18 year old was included in the starting line up on the 27th November 1970 away at Shrewsbury Town where he made an immediate impact.  Within moments the teenager had opened the scoring, and went on to have a hand in Rovers’ third as the side recorded a great 3-0 win.  He kept his place for the following game at Belle Vue, again finding the net in a 2-1 defeat to Swansea, but Rovers struggled badly and Kitchen returned to the reserves before returning to play a part in the final 8 games, scoring 4 goals in the process.  Things were looking good for him to become a regular in the side, but the team were relegated and McMenemy replaced as manager by Maurice Setters and Kitchen was seemingly back to square one and he made only 6 starts the following year.

He started the 1972 season as a regular in the team and despite the team managing only 1 point from the first 6 games, Kitchen had already helped himself to a couple of goals.  The following season began with more optimism, a number of players had joined Kitchen in the first team from the clubs youth set up, and big striker Brendan O’Callaghan joined the Rovers forward line.  He and Kitchen immediately hit it off with O’Callaghan’s ability in the air a constant source of ammunition for the ever alert Kitchen.  The pair scored 26 goals between them including two at Anfield in the memorable draw with the eventual cup winners that would have seen Rovers produce one of the biggest upsets ever had Kitchen’s late effort found the net instead of the cross bar.

The next few years saw Kitchen’s talents blossom alongside O’Callaghan and winger Ian Miller, the trio were an exciting unit to watch and guaranteed goals with Kitchen scoring over 20 in the league for the next three seasons.  The only black spot being that despite the talent and goals the team possessed they never managed to achieve promotion, leaving Kitchen frustrated and keen to test himself at a higher level, he spent most of his final season with the club on the transfer list, before moving to second division Leyton Orient in the summer for £45,000.

peter kitchen bookHe proved he could score goals at a higher level, even in a struggling Orient side, and dragged the team to the semi-finals of the FA cup, scoring 7 of the teams 9 goals in the competition.  He went on to play for Fulham (moving for £150,000) Cardiff before heading back to Orient where he was again among the goals via a spell in Hong Kong during a career which saw over 150 league goals.

The only mystery sounding the career of Peter Kitchen was how he never got the opportunity to play at the highest level.  Not the quickest of strikers, though he was razor sharp in the penalty box, he was a supreme finisher though his game offered more than just goals.  He came alive in the box often needing only one touch where others would’ve needed two.  He scored 101 goals for the club and is a genuine Rovers legend.

Brendan O’Callaghan

Brendan enjoyed a fantastic pairing with Striker Peter Kitchen in the 1970’s and the two perfectly complemented each other with Kitchen alive to the inevitable flicks bestowed to him by the powerful big front man.  O’Callaghan not only made chances for others, but was also more than capable of finishing them off himself and is still considered by many to be the best target man to have ever played for the club.  

Born in Bradford on 23rd July 1955 he made his professional debut against his home town Bradford City for the Rovers in September 1973 at just 18 standing 6’2” tall.  He went on to terrorise defences alongside Kitchen and winger Ian Miller throughout the 70’s with many notable games along the way including a great hat trick again back in Bradford and the sides epic league cup run in 1975 with O’Callaghan scoring 6 times in seven outings on the way to a memorable quarter final away at Tottenham, with Rovers taking the lead early on before Spurs eventually ran out 7-2 winners with the team still very much in the game until late on.  

Indeed the only black spot being that O’Callaghan’s time at the club was exclusively in the fourth tier of English football, again with defensive weaknesses meaning the side at the time never managed to amount to the true some of its parts.  During 1975-76 O’Callaghan and Kitchen both netted 22 league goals apiece (an incredible feet not seen since by a Rovers strike partnership) in a team which scored a sizable 75 goals during the term but also contrived to concede 69.  It was this failure to progress in the league which ultimately meant the break-up of the side with Kitchen leaving first to try the test of a higher tier.  

In March 1978 Brendan moved to second division Stoke City for £40,000 where his goals gained the potters promotion the top fight when he showed himself more than capable of playing on such a grand stage against the top sides in the country, contributing significantly to the side and constantly leading the line before switching to centre half late on in his career, with equal assurance and efficiency, before a brief stint at Oldham prior to ending his career in 1985.

In total he played 212 times for the Rovers, scoring 74 goals and making countless more along the way.  Fondly remembered by Rovers fans he played a full part in a thoroughly entertaining and exciting period in the history of the club and left a permanent image in the clubs history.

Ian Milller

Joined from the Rovers from Forest and was to prove a key figure in the Rovers midfield.  Born in Perth, Scotland, in May 1955 “Windy” started his football career as an apprentice at Bury in August 1973 making his league debut during the 73/74 season he started just 9 times for the shakers before his potential was spotted by Nottingham Forest and he was taken to the City ground.  He spent a year a Forest and despite not playing for the first team his time by the Trent was certainly not wasted as his time under Brian Clough undoubtedly made him a better footballer and he joined Doncaster in the summer of 1975.  That first year he quickly became an integral part of a pacey, exciting Rovers side that scored its highest number of goals for ten years, Miller supplied the ammunition that O’Callaghan and Kitchen fired on their way to 22 league goals apiece, and he helped himself to nine all of his own on his way to piping both players to the supporters Player of the Year, an honour he went on to win again the following year, no mean feat amongst such distinguished company.

Miller went on to join Swindon in 1978 as the team broke up before going to enjoy a successful spell in the second division with Blackburn Rovers making 252 league appearances for the side in the second tier of English football before ending his career following spells and Port Vale and Scunthorpe.

A lightening quick winger, he was a tricky dribbler and great crosser of the ball he was a third a of Rovers “holy trinity” with the enduring thought of the era being that Miller would beat ‘em down the wing, cross to O’Callaghan to beat ‘em in the air, for Kitchen to turn on a six pence and score during a time when the side regularly played fast attacking football to the enjoyment of the crowd, and using with great effect.

Ian Snodin

Ian’s career with the Rovers really saw everything, making his debut at 17 years old, he became club captain two years later whilst still a teenager (and at the time the youngest captain in the entire football league), he represented England at under 21 and under 23 levels whilst at Belle Vue.  He won promotion with the club twice under manager Billy Bremner and returned nearly twenty years later as manager, to help guide the club back from extinction.

Ian is probably one of the most naturally gifted players to wear the Rovers shirt in the modern era, his ability on the ball, with his superb vision and range of passing, allied with an unbreakable never say die attitude and a willingness to run and run made him a true hero on the Belle Vue terraces.

He made his debut as a substitute on the 29th March 1980 and within 6 months became a regular in a Rovers side that won promotion from Division four in 1981 and went on to captain the side that were once again promoted to division three in 1984 and it was following this that Ian enjoyed probably his best year for the club, missing only 4 league games as the club became a competitive force in the third division and inevitably Ian moved onwards an upwards, joining Leeds United in the summer of 1985 for £200,000, money that cash strapped Rovers could not turn down.

Ian again became captain at Leeds United before his performances led to a move into the first division and Everton paid out £840,000 to secure his signing and he moved to one of the most successful side of the period, with whom he won the Championship.

A switch to full back proved extremely successful and Ian was rewarded with a call up to the England squad, though unfortunately injury forced his withdrawal and hampered his progress from then on. He spent time on loan with Sunderland before moving to Oldham and then a short spell at Scarborough before again teaming up with brother Glynn as Manager at the Rovers.  The club had just been relegated from the football league and had been facing almost certain extinction before John Ryan bought the club and installed one of the clubs most famous son’s at the helm.  With only a handful of players and not much else, Ian helped rebuild the club and managed a mid-table finish before winning the Conference trophy in front of a sold out Belle Vue in a brief welcome return to former glories.  One of the clubs most loved son’s Ian Snodin made 222 appearances for the club, scoring 29 goals, and is still remembered with great affection at the club.

Glynn Snodin

A key figure in Bremner’s side at the time and during the clubs success over the next few seasons was undoubtedly Glynn Snodin. A left sided midfielder who could also play at full back Glynn overcame a shaky start to his Rovers career as a 16 year old to become a Belle Vue favourite, with his whole hearted attitude and 100% commitment earning him the adulation of the Rovers fans. 

Glynn had a great left foot possessing a powerful shot, he would often let fly whenever the chance arose and scored some spectacular goals during his career including a great strike in a game away at Darlington and one crucial drive at home to Bradford as Rovers chased promotion in 1981 and Glynn finished as Rovers top scorer twice whilst at the club.  A consistent performer and excellent professional Glynn made 340 appearances for the club (many of which were alongside brother Ian) scoring 61 goals before moving to Sheffield Wednesday in June 1985 for a large fee for the time which was in excess of £100,000, spending two years at Wednesday before joining up with Ian again at Leeds. 

He also spent time at Oldham, Rotherham and Hearts before ending his playing career at Barnsley in 1993, following which Glynn completed his coaching qualifications and turned down the chance to become assistant manager at Oakwell in 1998 to re-join Rovers as assistant to Ian, taking on the seemingly impossible task of rebuilding the club following relegation to the conference as the brothers made the first crucial steps to setting the club back on the path to success.  Following their departure in 2000 Glynn joined Charlton as reserve team boss.  Now a hugely respected and talented coach, Glynn worked with former Charlton colleague Alan Curbishley at Premier League West Ham United.

Colin Cramb

Colin joined the Rovers in December 1995 for a reported £25,000 fee.  Still only 21, he had begun his career at Hamilton where he was considered one of Scotland’s brightest prospects on scoring twice on his debut as a 16 year old.  Moves to English Premier League side Southampton and Scottish Premier Clubs Falkirk and Hearts followed, but the talented striker never really established himself at that level and joined a Rovers team going well, and in the third division play-off places.

Signed as a strike partner to the clubs leading scorer Graeme Jones, Cramb immediately settled into the role, with his ability to bring others into play with some quality touches helped Rovers to a 4-1 win on his debut.  Inevitably, the clubs promotion challenge faltered but Cramb showed his worth scoring 7 times in 20 league games.

The following season saw Cramb feature as the clubs leading striker with Jones having moved on, and the Scot delivered the goals that were expected from him finding the net 21 times in all competitions during the season, which included 18 league goals, which made him the first Rovers player to find break the 20 goal barrier for some 20 years.

With the club struggling financially, Cramb became one of a number of key first team players to leave the club during the summer of 1997 with a £125,000 move to Bristol City serving as his reward for such a fruitful season among the goals.  He enjoyed promotion at Ashton Gate before a £200,000 move to Crewe and subsequently played in Holland with Fortuna Sittard before returning with spells at Shrewsbury and Grimsby.  He moved back to Hamilton in 2005, also enjoying successful time with Stenhousemuir, Stirling and East Stirlingshire before retiring in 2009 having scored well over 100 goals.

His goals mad him a big favourite with the Belle Vue crowd, providing them with a goal scorer at long last.  The tall Scot was never a physical, bustling striker though he had something of a temper, but he had skill in abundance and always had an eye for a spectacular goal (notably scoring a superb long range effort in the team’s excellent home win against a free scoring Wigan side).  Sometimes displaying an uninterested nonchalance on the pitch, he had the ability and the knack of suddenly coming to life to find a goal from nothing.  He made 61 league appearances for the club, during which he found the net 25 times.