For all of the games throughout the history of Doncaster Rovers, the game against Manchester City on the 7th October 1950 stills ranks as one of, if not the most exciting and dramatic match ever.
Both sides were new to the second division, albeit their journeys coming from opposite directions. Rovers had just achieved promotion from the third division whilst City had come down from the first. Rovers had made a decent start to life at a higher level and had only lost 2 of the first 10 games, recording 3 wins along the way. City were flying however, and were still unbeaten whilst sitting on the very top of the division, as they visited Doncaster for the first time in the league for nearly 50 years.
The Lancashire side got the perfect start with Syd Bycrofts mistimed header falling perfectly for Smith who had time to control the ball before placing it past Hardwick in the Rovers goal to give the visitors the lead. City poured forward in numbers, sensing a second goal, and just after the half hour it duly arrived courtesy of another neat finish from City forward Smith. Things went from bad to worse when, with three minutes left to play before half time when a long ball into the Rovers box found Westcott, who’s knock down fell to Smith once more, who poked home to complete a first half hat trick.
City had been outstanding throughout the first half, showing exactly why they had enjoyed such a great start to the season, and by contrast Rovers had been totally anonymous in a game where they hadn’t even had a chance to get hold of the ball and play with the Rovers defence looking utterly shell shocked there seemed no way back for the home side. City looked in a different league, and more goals looked likely to follow.
The Rovers fans knew that the team had to start well if they were to have any chance of salvaging something from the second half, and fortunately that’s just what they did.
The players emerged for the second half with the bit between their teeth and within five minutes of the game restarting, Calverly found some room out on the flank and was able to fire a cross into the box towards Harrision. The Rovers centre forward got to the ball first and directed the ball past City ‘keeper Bert Trautmann to record his fourth goal of the season.
Barely two minutes later, Irishman Kit Lawlor found some space in sight of the City goal with the ball at his feet and noticed Trautmann had strayed slightly off his line. Lawlor measured the most delicate of lobs over the goalkeeper and into the net and suddenly with the score back to 3-2, Rovers were in a game again.
There was scarcely chance to catch your breath as just moments later, Rovers’ Lowes fired a shot goalwards, only for City defender Rigby to keep the ball out with his hand. Up stepped Rovers player manager, Peter Doherty, playing against his former club with whom he had become a legend in winning the league championship some 13 years earlier, and cooly dispatched the spot kick for his fifth goal of the campaign, and over 30,000 spectators held their breath in anticipation as to what would follow in this incredibly game.
Rovers flooded forwarded and Doherty set of towards the heart of the City defence, jinking in and out of City defenders before letting fly with a drive that flashed past Trautmann from fully 25 yards and incredibly within two minutes of the equaliser, Rovers were ahead 4-3. Manachester City had been caught cold in a scintillating period of football from the home side that saw 4 goals scored inside a 10 minute spell, with Peter ‘the great’ Doherty’s drive proving the final, decisive goal of an incredible game which handed Rovers the most unlikely of victories and probably the greatest comeback in the clubs history.
Without question, the bumper attendance of 32,937 had certainly got value for money, especially those who were watching from the Rossington end of Belle Vue, as all 7 goals were scored at that end!