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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.

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.

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 away shirt 1979 – 1981.

This is a real beauty, made by sereena.  All ‘proper’ Rovers away shirts are green.  This is matchworn, number 4 – the number as worn by a young Ian Snodin.





doncaster rovers shirt 1982 -1984 hobott

Doncaster Rovers home shirt 1982 – 1984

Another classic and the first time Rovers wore hooped shirts since the 1940’s.  Made by Hobott.


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 player issue tracksuit top / drill top 1992 – 1994

Matchwinner tracksuit top



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 shirt 1995 - 1996 matchwinner

Doncaster Rovers home shirt 1995 – 1996

Matchwinner shirt. Cramb, Moore, Jones



Doncaster Rovers away shirt 1995/96

Doncaster Rovers away shirt 1995-1996.

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 shirt 199 - 2000

Doncaster Rovers home shirt 1999 – 2000

Worn during appearance on Match of Day, 1-0 home defeat to Halifax in the FA Cup.  Mike Newell, Matty Caudwell


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 shirt 2003 - 2005

Doncaster Rovers away shirt 2003 – 2005

Match worn / match prepared Steve Foster shirt



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 shirt 2012 - 2013

Doncaster Rovers home shirt 2012 – 2013

Mines a matchworn Rob Jones shirt



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.



doncaster rovers shirt 2017 - 2018

Doncaster Rovers away shirt 2017 – 2018

Marquis, Coppinger, Rowe

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…

Doncaster Rovers video – Rovers v Kingstonian Conference Cup final 2000

Doncaster Rovers Video

Some cup finals, regardless of the level of the competition are glorious events, full of fast end to end football and punctuated with fabulous goals.  The Macmillian cup final of 2000 was… well, not one of these.

I remember it well, and following the success of the previous year (the fabulous 3-0 win over Farnborough which I will feature over the next few weeks too) this game was much anticipated but in truth it wasn’t a good game and the two goals which won the day were two of the most scrappy goals you will ever see.  Jason Minett’s opener looks like it was scored by mistake with Dave Penney’s prod from a yard out spectacular by comparison.

Regardless, we won and got a trophy at the end of it.  Lots of familiar and forgotten names including Dino Maamria, Neil ‘Goals’ Campbell and most unusually – footage of Andy Warrington looking like a relatively young man.

Rovers; 1.Warrington  2.Marples  3.Shaw  4.Foster  5.Walling  6.Barnard  7.Watson  8.Penney  9.Campbell  10.Maamria  11.McIntyre.  12.Minett 16.Duerden

Doncaster Rovers video – Rovers v Kingstonian Conference Cup final 2000 :

Retro Rovers Video – Rovers v Bristol City 1983

Found this video from the 1983-84 promotion season. We finished runners up to York City that year in Division 4 and this was an excellent win against a useful Bristol City team.

Terrific strike from Andy Kowalski and a goal from David Harle, which he follows up with a bizarre but terrific ‘running on broken glass’ celebration.  Good to see Ernie Moss in action also, running clear before being dragged down by the keeper.  Moss got 17 goals that year and was joint top scorer with Duggie, but was robbed of one here.

Rovers:  1.Boyd  2.Russell  3.Harle  4.I Snodin  5.Lister  6.Humphries  7.Miller  8.Moss  9.Douglas  10.Kowalski  11.G Snodin.

Retro Rovers Doncaster Rovers v Halifax Town FA Cup 1999 Match of the Day

Doncaster rovers v halifax townWith another FA cup journey about to begin this week, I dug out some old footage of one from the past.  I found our ‘Match of the Day’ debut from 1999 when the BBC cameras got us all excited by turning up to feature our first round tie with Halifax Town.
Watch out for a shocking miss from Mike Newell (that phrase became all too common), delightful views of a 5,000 strong Belle Vue crowd and a host of familiar players, including Jamie Paterson, Steve Gaughan and Lee Butler who were in the visitors side.
Just to make it more authentic, I used some really clever editing techniques to make the footage look and sound like it is on an old vhs tape being shown on an old telly…

Doncaster Rovers FA Cup 1st Round, 30th October 1999 vs Halifax Town.