Intake Ground 1885-1916.
The Intake ground played host to the club during its infancy and during its first few steps it has absolutely no facilities. The teams were forced to get changed and discuss tactics some 500 yards away at a local pub, before making their way down to the ground for the game. Three years into its stay at Intake, the club erected a stand at the side of the playing surface which included turnstiles and a ticket office, with a ‘shed’ used as a press office added a couple of years later.
Unfortunately the stand was blown down twice in the coming years by particularly inclement Doncaster weather and had to be rebuilt with dressing rooms included around the turn of the century.
The clubs record attendance for a match at the Intake Ground was over 6,000 against Middlesbrough in 1902.
During the First World War, with the club ceasing operations, the ground was requisitioned by the war dept. and used as a military depot.
The Bennetthorpe Ground 1920-1922
After the reformation a the club following the end of the war, the Club was based at The Bennetthorpe Ground as a short term venue whilst negotiations were conducted by the council. The Club had wanted to move to the Low Pastures site, but restrictions imposed by the local council made an agreement difficult however these issues were resolved and the club had a two year spell at their temporary home with the team being watched by the clubs highest gate on the opening day of the 1921-22 season, with 7,219 people watching the game against Gainsborough Trinity.
Belle Vue 1922-2006
With negotiations for the Low Pastures site concluded, the club took up the lease and moved into ‘Belle Vue’ which would become home for more than 80 years. The ground was opened on Saturday 26th August 1922 for the Midland league game against Gainsborough which attracted a crowd of over 10,000.
Belle Vue originally sported a main stand for seating 4,000 spectators with a terraced area in front which catered for a further 3,000 guests and in 1924 shelter was added to the opposite side of the pitch, meaning those standing on the ‘Popular side’ had the luxury of staying dry!
Subsequently the Main Stand which had been erected at The Bennetthorpe Ground was transported to the new site and dropped into place on the ‘Town End’ at Belle Vue! By 1935 turnstiles, fencing and gates had been added as the Club sought entry into the Football League and the ground had an impressive capacity of around 40,000.
The following years saw a lot of changes to the Club, but Belle Vue remained basically the same until 1985 when the ‘Safety of Sports grounds Act’ which resulted from the Bradford fire caused major changes and the Town end had to be pulled down and £100,000 worth of fireproofing work carried out to the Main Stand, slashing capacity to around 10,000 before the Hillsborough disaster imposed further restrictions, dropping capacity to 7,294, though the ground had the unusual distinction of being the only ground to have separate tunnels for the home and away teams.
Following the clubs promotion to the Football league, ‘hospitality areas’ were introduced to the Town end, with double storey portacabins lining the back of the stands until the final game against Nottingham Forest, on boxing day 2006.
By the end, Belle Vue was tired, out dated and impractical. But it was home. The crowd was almost on top of the pitch and the atmosphere of a full house inside Belle Vue was unlike any other. I remember clambering over the pot holed car park, up the old, creaking wooden stair case at the back of the main stand and taking my numbingly firm seat on a length of railway sleeper, sitting next to my Dad, watching the game as best as I could through the restricted view afforded by the steel supports in front of the main stand, but it was and always will be special, and for me and thousands of others, the name Belle Vue could not have been more apt.
The Pitch at Belle Vue was laid on top of an Ash tip, which meant that the turf always drained well. Always immaculate, with the turf kept in tip top condition, it was rumoured that the Rovers pitch was wanted by Wembley stadium!
The Keepmoat Stadium
The first game came on New Year’s Day 2007 as the side beat Huddersfield in a League One match. The record attendance to date at the Keepmoat was 15,002 for a League game against Leeds Utd in 2008.
The stadium was built at a cost of around £30m, designed to provide a high quality sporting environment with a community focus. It has a capacity of 15,231 with improved seating and disabled access bars, club shop, hospitality areas and a mini stadium on the same site with a 500 seat stand and running track. Multiple outdoor training pitches, and a fitness and health centre.
The Keepmoat Stadium has truly been a success and has finally dragged the club up to date, with the impressive facilities behind the providing a base for the clubs continued on the field success and in time the Keepmoat will produce its own stars, its own names and most importantly its own memories.