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ISSUE 59

EDITORIAL Here we are once again. The dawn of another season with the Rovers, and whilst you always feel a little brighter at a season’s start, the current flames of inevitable annual new season optimism can be fanned that little higher with the knowledge that, at least it can’t be any worse than our last. Ahead of the start of the new Premier League season the news channels kept showing a snippet of Richard Scudamore in which he was trying to desperately draw a parallel between his footballing globo-bank and the recent Olympics. In this snippet he said the words positive and negative more often than he breathed. We must be positive, not negative he repeated, without ever suggesting what about and to what end. All it highlighted for me was the increasing intolerance of greyness in our modern world, no time for reservations or conditions. You’re for or against. I mention this because ‘negative’ was a word that was thrown at this publication regarding our coverage of last season. I don’t think we were

were wholly negative in 2011-12. Crestfallen, pessimistic, even doomladen I grant you, but then we had reason to be. My approach when writing on Rovers has always been that if I believe initiatives, decisions, individuals are worthy of praise I’ll praise them. But if I feel things need questioning or highlighting then I’ll do that to. Was that ‘negative’? Possibly, but I feel it can be easily justified by considerably more of the club’s doings last season falling into the latter category rather than the former. Depending on how you viewed ‘the experiment’, [don’t sigh, stick with it – I’m leading to a better, nicer place with this] be it as a viable business plan, a bold move, or a desperate scheme presented by a magic bean salesmen who it turned out had just desperately prit-sticked glitter onto some very ordinary beans, you will have different perceptions on what it achieved. One notable bi-product of its implementation however was that it split the club’s support, more than anything else I’ve ever known in my supporting life. Of course supporting the same football club does not make us all unanimous on every issue involving Rovers, but when the divide becomes such that abuse is gleefully, and viciously, hurled at fellow fans just because their opinion or

ISSUE 59 // CONTENTS 03. Editorial 06. Previously at the Rovers 10. In Off The Post Bag 12. What Are They Talking About? 14. To Lindum and Back 16. A Recipe for Success? 17. Sounding the Belles 18. The Super Women

20. Five Belles 21. Uncle Charlie 24. Picking a Best XI 26. Voice of the Pop SIde 28. Meet the New Boys 30. Windmills Of Your Mind 34. The Donny R’sonists 35. Competition: Spot the Injury

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interpretation differs then things aren’t working out. A clear example of the divisiveness of last season came on the VSC messageboard in the summer when one poster mentioned this same issue, and with an unintentional zest for satire, a ten page argument ensued about whether or not last season had split the support. It was this element of divisiveness amongst us, the fans, which perhaps disappointed me most about last season. Supporting Rovers as I knew it, was always defined by a sense of us against them, with the role of ‘them’ played at various stages by Richardson and Weaver, the FA, the more established clubs, and the pundits. We were the pub team having a laugh, we were the Northern upstarts, we were the unexpectedly free flowing footballers. We were different to the rest. In modern football individual identity as a club can be hard to forge, stadiums are increasingly similar, playing personnel rarely local. In surrendering established ideals to survive at all costs in the second I felt sacrificed all we’d sought to achieve, we were no longer different, no longer the ‘us’, just another one of them and it was hard to identify with. And so, if we are to draw a line under last season and move on, then irradiating the divide in the support and recapturing the sense of togetherness, of the fans mattering as an entity, rather than being simply consumers of whatever the club chooses to do, is the place to start. Pleasingly, this appears to be happening. Though the club have made some shrewd signings, increasingly it appears that the most significant acquisition of the summer is that of Chief Executive Gavin Baldwin. After several seasons in which

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there was a sense that supporters’ concerns were viewed by the club as a hindrance rather than a guidance, Rovers do appear to be moving in the opposite direction under Baldwin’s leadership. There is a clear willingness to listen and to take on board and explain and attempt what fans are asking, something so simple, and yet something which had been so severely lacking previously. On that same vein it would appear that the Viking Supporters Co-operative too has realigned itself with its core aims and objectives of representing the interests of the club’s supporters. On the field this is going to be a difficult season for Rovers, and that is to be expected after such a drastic shift in personnel – at the time of writing 20 of the squad which finished last season have moved on – and a significant reduction in budget. Despite this the club have assembled a strong, competitive 16 man squad which is certainly impressive. But, owing to the constraints in which it was assembled it remains without depth, so it is important not to get carried away on early results and let expectations outweigh the realities. A decent finish will always help sway numbers in the Keepmoat of course, but for the majority of the fans who felt disenfranchised by the approach taken last season it is a change in ethos off the field which is more likely to bring them back to the club. At present that change has been affected, and whilst it won’t right the wrongs of last season, it certainly ensures the club is afforded a second chance, hopefully one which will bear out in the presence of a more united support. As for the fanzine itself, if there is an underlying tone to it then I think it can best be described as ‘cautious’. Of

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course our writers had heard of the positive steps referenced above, but with all content submitted before the opening league game there remains a somewhat wary tone to some of our content; perhaps, to coin a onetime popular phrase amongst Rovers support, they’ll believe it when they’re sat in it, though early suggestions are that will happen sooner rather than later. But that’s not to say we don’t have some fascinating articles for you, the pick of which is probably, with the greatest respect to our other contributors, Jack the Miner’s interesting piece on the late great Charlie Williams (p21). With today’s Rovers fixture being a double header with the Belles match against Arsenal we’ve also sought to educate and inform those of you who will hopefully be staying to sample the women’s side for the first time with a piece summarising the effects of the FA Women’s Super League as well as five players to watch for the Belles and a round-up of their season so far. One last piece of fanzine news to share is that over the summer we donated over £300 to the supporters’ team the Donny R’sonists to help them purchase their first new kit in 14 years, and the lads can be seen wearing it on page 34. This donation was only possible thanks to your continued support of the ‘zine so thank you again for parting with your pound this afternoon. This is of course your publication, by the fans, for the fans, so if you have any feedback on its content then do please let us know via the email address on the inside cover. Enjoy the match. Stay for the Belles game. And here’s to a much brighter season following the red and white hoops. Viva Rovers!

GW

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SAM HIRD

Outside Sainsburys in Sprotborough with a full bag of shopping. spotter: @EjWilson5

IAN SNODIN

Bustling around the bookies, between Hills and Dunn’s on Silver Street corner, phone to his ear spotter: @brendansimpson

GRAEME JONES

On Deansgate, Manchester, wearing jeans and a casual top, with his wife and children and heading in the direction of La Tasca spotter: @Jamesbuckley7

LEO FORTUNE-WEST

In Donny town centre on the pop.

spotter: @Chopper_Donc64

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PREVIOUSLY AT THE ROVERS popular STAND's regular diary feature gets you up to speed on all that’s happened at the Rovers since we all paid 50p to wear non uniform and brought in games for the last match of last season.

Friday 18th May

The club website announces who’ll stay and who’ll go following relegation, with the twitter reaction of Simon Gillett in particular suggesting it is also the first the players have known about the respective lists. Despite featuring in every game last season Gillett is amongst those to be released along with fanzine favourite Mustapha Dumbuya, home town hero Sam ‘der Kaiser’ Hird and James Hayter amongst others. Also shown the door is Damien Plessis, whoever he may be.

Thursday 14th June

Rovers unveil their first new signing of 2012-13. The relatively unknown David Syers joins from Bradford, suggesting a welcome change in recruitment policy for the year ahead.

Wednesday 27th June

Rovers have a successful rummage down the back of the sofa, somehow finding the funds to offer contracts to the recognised talents of Robbie Blake and David Cotterill. Speaking to the official website Dean Saunders says Blake will be “good for the dressing room”, the sort of compliment usually reserved for say a massage table, or some new showers, perhaps Cotterill will add something to the tunnel.

Wednesday 4th July

Saturday 14th July

Cleethorpes Town 2-4 Rovers

Electing to get set for the new season in much the same way that England prepared for Euro 96, Rovers have lined up a couple of warm-up games in the Far East, starting at Cleethorpes Town. The choice of first opponent rankles the town’s own non-league sides with Armthorpe Welfare, Rossington Main and Askern Villa all voicing their displeasure on twitter at the dispensing of the ‘community friendly’, a fixture which had brought each club valuable funds in the past. Still, for the Rovers this was a chance to try out new ideas and Dean Saunders looked to have unearthed a new striking talent in the form of... Dean Saunders. The manager gave himself a cameo and notched a goal for his trouble. Saunders had reportedly bet each of his squad £200 that he’d be on the scoresheet. Different world isn’t it.

Tuesday 17th July

Founder member Mickey Walker leaves Rovers. The longevity of Walker’s service and friendly, approachable

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nature should of course be recognised, but the decision is an eminently sensible one. I saw someone describe Walker’s departure as if the club had, had an organ removed, but such has been Walker’s role in the past few years then that organ would only ever really be an appendix.

Grimsby Town 2-3 Rovers

Still out in the Far East the Rovers manage to adapt to the humidity and an unfamiliar local economy, where

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everyday objects are traded for fish rather than finance, to secure a second win. David Cotterill, David Syers and Chris Brown give Rovers a 3-0 lead, but the Doncastrian press are spared a trip to the archives to dust off ‘Battered Haddocks’ headlines, by two late Grimsby goals.

see local families huddling round it, trying to bask in its newness and convince themselves that it makes living in Rotherham OK. Like when Leeds got a Harvey Nics. Anyway, I digress. We lost. 2-1. Still, early days.

Thursday 19th July

There should be a rule that if preseason friendlies are goalless at 90 minutes members of the crowd are invited to join in; one per minute added to each side until the presence of 80 men challenging for a corner brings an inevitable scrambled goal, or at the very least slapstick entertainment. Anyway, the lack of goals signalled a positive, a clean sheet secured by a back four of young and unfamiliar faces; Paul Quinn, Tommy Spurr, Liam Wakefield, and James Husband.

More encouragement ‘the experiment’ has been abandoned as Habib Beye leaves Rovers. Despite Beye making it clear that he neither wanted to play in League 1 or base himself in England Rovers had reportedly still been ‘hopeful’ of signing the defender earlier in the week. Sense, or finance, it seems has finally prevailed.

Saturday 21st July

Bradford Park Avenue 3-3 Rovers

Rovers come from 3-1 down to draw with their Conference North hosts at Horsfall Stadium. Trialist Ben McNamara starts in goal for Rovers and reports from those present suggest it was a case of trial and multiple errors. David Cotterill struck his second goal of pre-season to put Rovers ahead, with two late goals from Kyle Bennett saving Rovers blushes.

Tuesday 24th July

Saturday 28th July

Rovers 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday

Monday 30th July

One out, one in for the Rovers back-line as George Friend makes his expected departure for a Championship side, joining Middlebrough for what will become the catchphrase of Rovers summer; an undisclosed fee. Coming the other way is centre-back Rob Jones arrives from Sheffield Wednesday having left the Owls by mutual consent.

Tuesday 31st July Rotherham United 2-1 Rovers Rovers 3-1 Hull City There are many theories to why A fantastic start for new addition Rob Rotherham United’s new home has Jones as he buries a sidefoot shot in been called the New York Stadium, ours is that the Big Apple is the nearest the back of the net on his Rovers debut, giving the keeper no chance as he opens point to Rotherham at which you the scoring... for Hull. That goal from can be out of ear-shot of Steve Evans the unfortunate Jones was all that appealing for a throw-in on half-way. separated the two sides at the break, Come to think of it, Steve Evans kind of looks like a big apple, a big angry red but things were much improved for the Rovers in the second half. Two goals apple, that someone’s dropped a blob of from Martin Woods (remember him?) custard on top and stuck in a suit, so and one from trialist Amari Morganmaybe that’s it. Anyway, as much as it pains us to say it about the Millers’ new Smith helping Doncaster to secure the sort of victory which is normally home it’s a bloody lovely stadium, go deemed ‘moral-boosting’. past any day of the week and you can popularSTAND // ISSUE 59 // AUG-SEPT 2012 07


PREVIOUSLY AT THE ROVERS

move permanent after a number of appearances in pre-season.

// CONTINUED

Brian Stock ends a summer of speculation by joining Championship side Burnley for, yes, you’ve guessed it, an undisclosed fee. In a mark of the captain’s integrity Stock conveyed a message of thanks to supporters on the VSC forum.

Wednesday 1st August

Derby County continue their perception of Doncaster Rovers as some sort of feader club by signing James O’Connor for an undisclosed fee. A great professional O’Connor will be missed, but the deal is probably wise for all involved.

Saturday 4th August Rovers 2-2 Barnsley

Another encouraging scoreline for a side that is perhaps best described at current as ‘transitional’. Only four players made it off the bench to feature for Rovers, but despite tired limbs the side managed to come from behind to gain a draw. David Syers was on target again suggesting that he could well be a shrewd addition from the division below, as too was Martin Woods who’s return from long-term injury is beginning to feel like we’ve signed a new player.

Tuesday 7th August

Gainsborough Trinity 4-0 Rovers

This game remains oddly unreported on the Rovers official website, like failures of North Korean sporting icons Perhaps if we all just refuse to acknowledge it the people of Gainsborough will start to just accept it never happened. Those reports which are available suggest Rovers fielded a very makeshift side, and with recent departures and the new season on the horizon that is to be expected. So yeah, as you were, remember, you saw nothing, right?

Friday 10th August

Saturday 11th August

Rovers 1-1 York City Rovers win 4-2 on penalties

Wemberlee, Wemberlee! One day into the season and we’re on a Cup run already. Yes we made hard work of it, but there’s a hell of a long way to go and going into today two prerogatives would have presumably of been identified; win the game and don’t let anyone get crocked. Mission accomplished then. Yet despite the penalties, despite the passage into the next round, there was only one point to be debated after the match. What the hell was going on with Coppinger’s shorts? After trying to put players in the shop window last season it seems that this campaign we’re trying to put them in the sort of shop window you might find in Hamburg’s red light district. What? No-one’s buying? Flash a bit of leg Copps! On Twitter Coppinger protested that he just doesn’t like long shorts, but does that really excuse him hitching his hem somewhere between 1978 vintage Mario Kempes and Kylie Minougue’s video for the single Spinning Around?

Monday 13th August

Striker Billy Paynter signs having been released by Leeds. How he’s likely to fair for Rovers seems to depend on whether you get a second opinion from Thursday 9th August a Swindon or a Leeds fan, it’s a sliding A much needed boost to Rovers backline scale from great asset and useless as Paul Quinn joins the club. The carthorse. Probably best to wait and former Cardiff defender making his see. Paynter follows Jamie McCombe popularSTAND // ISSUE 59 // AUG-SEPT 2012 08


through the door, the big defender having terminated his contract at Huddersfield to join Doncaster.

EVANs WaTCH!

because you have to keep an eye on him.

Friday 17th August

One last addition before the opening day of the season with James Harper joining the club. A free agent since leaving Hull, Harper had featured regularly in pre-season.

Saturday 18th August Walsall 0-3 Rovers

Top of the league after a game, you can’t really ask for more than that can you? A solid and impressive victory secured with two fantastic goals from Kyle Bennett and David Cotterill, the latter struck from fully fifty yards delighting everyone, except perhaps of Darren Utley whose YouTube goalfrom-bloody-miles-out infamy will have now lost a generation of fans. Of course one league game is far from enough to base a prediction on days as for all we know at the stage the Saddlers could be the division’s whipping boys. But the Rovers team that lined-up at the Bescot Stadium, and the supporting cast on the bench looked encouragingly strong for the division. We still lack depth of course as there is little to nothing beyond that 16, but a bit of luck with injuries (for once), a few more additions and who knows?

Steve is currently... Slightly peaved by a referee’s decision.

Tuesday 21st August Rovers 2-1 Bury

Just before the fanzine was sent off to the capable hands of Dave the Printer, Rovers made it two wins from two, as they came from behind to beat Bury 2-1 with goals from Kyle Bennett and Chris Brown. The victory means that Rovers are one of just three sides to have taken maximum points from the first two games of the season. The encouraging start to the season should also help put a few more on the gate for Saturday’s date with Crawley Town. GW

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IN OFF THE POSTBAG Paul James autobiography and the other Paul Heffernan; some recent submissions from our readers. One-time Rover Paul James released his autobiography this year in which the Candian international talks frankly about the addiction to cocaine he suffered during his later career as a coach. James describes his brief experience at Doncaster in this excert from his book Cracked Open. At the conclusion of the 1987 [Canadian Soccer League] season, I went to England to play for Doncaster Rovers in the old English Third Division. Colin Miller was playing there at the time and he called me, as they had injury problems and needed a wide player. Unfortunately, I was only there three months as I was struggling with what seemed like a permanent gtoin strain problem. I was on a month-to-month contract and after Dave Cusack was fired and Dave McKay was brought in, I left, as I was not protected once on the injury list. It was quite ruthless. I did play in seven matches, including a game against Sunderland and Roker Park on New Year’s Day. Sunderland, who was top of the league, beat us 3-1 although we did have the nerve to take the lead. Even though I was only in England for a short period, it gave me a real taste of the British football culture again, which was extreme to say the least. The training was surprisingly poor and the fans were vocal, passionate and punishing. One day after a home game, which we lost, one supporter came up to the high wall overlooking the players’ tunnel. As the guy peered over the top he shouted, “Hey! Colin Miller! You fucking bastard! You call yourself a Canadian international. You

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are fucking joking. You are fucking hopeless. And that other Canadian wanker is no better either. Why don’t you both get yourself back to Canada?” Now, Colin has always been fairly thick skinned with a good sense of humour and it is not easy to rattle him. But apparently on this occasion, he got rattled. I was already in the changing room when Colin jumped up and grabbed the guy by the throat before a game steward rescued the situation by pulling him away. Twenty minutes later, a police officer entered our changing room requesting to speak to Colin. In the end , he just got a warning. When the players tried to pull Colin’s leg a few days later he just said, “I was just trying to protect Jamesy. He’s not a wanker.” It was an insight into the realities of being a professional soccer player in an environment where football really is life and death for many people. After all, at the time, Doncaster Rovers only averaged 2,000 people a game. The players’ Christmas party was another interesting event. With the club’s social pub closed down to the general public, and with all the players including reserves and apprentices in attendace, in walked two strippers dressed as nuns. After a full 45-minute routine, for 5 pounds per person, the

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one stripper was willing to stick around cut. It was all so routine. He would go to perform some sexual acts on a to the facility like it was his local pub. player the group selected. The young The staff would acknowledge him, “Hey apprentice who was chosen looked Frankie,” take off his coat, show him like he was in heat, so I suppose he to the whirlpool, get him his drink, enjoyed the experience in front of 30 or chat with him, share a sauna and then so guys. But then player after player finally give him the special massage he got involved, with good old ‘Frankie’ was there for. I thought it all sounded leading the charge. Before you know it, so reasonable until I found out he was it was like Sodom and Gomorrah. With living with his girlfriend, who was not some of the others, I just watched the so open-minded. All in all, Doncaster outrageous scene, which included one was a good experience for me even if player throwing a pint of beer over the it was just to recognize now not to do poor lady. I kept thinking; But she is so things. attractive. If I met her in public I would have been interested in her. How the footballing clubs turned a blind eye to this was remarkable. As a magnet for society to look up to for inspiration, it hardly represented professionalism. It reminds me of Ray Wilkins, who after playing most of his football career in England with Chelsea and Manchester United, stated that he first learned what it was like to behave like a professional once he joined AC Milan in Italy late in his career. On the subject of ‘Frankie,’ who was a silky type player for Doncaster if there was such a thing, every Thursday was The excellent Cracked Open is his “special massage day” at the local available on Amazon. Thanks to Ralph massage parlour (brothel). He talked Davies for sending the excert our way. about it as if he were getting his hair If you were wondering what had become of Paul Heffernan since he departed Rovers then we have the answer courtesy of Julie Bingham who sent us this screengrab of Heffs in his new career as an Eddie Stobart driver on Channel 5’s thrilling docu-soap series on the haulage fleet. Suggestions are he’s not the quickest driver, but you can count on him to get the goods delivered when it matters. popularSTAND // ISSUE 59 // AUG-SEPT 2012

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WHAT ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT? Jack the Miner peers through the fanzine’s net curtains to eavesdrop on what the new neighbours are saying. The good thing about the end of the Olympics is...no more Gary Lineker. I sat in disbelief as the BBC’s best paid sports presenter struggled to conjure up a single intelligent question for Nicola Adams. Perhaps I expect too much, but confronted by the first female boxer to represent England, the first female to win a medal for her country at a major tournament and the first female boxer to win a gold medal in Olympic history, I had anticipated better than, ‘Well done and you have a lovely smile.’ No wonder Michael Johnson and Ian Thorpe sat on the huge BBC sofa with ‘Is it only me that can see this bloke is totally out of his depth’ looks on their faces. Well Michael, Ian, it’s OK. It’s not just you. After the hundredth time of asking someone ‘and did the crowd help to lift you?’ we could only hope that Gary might find some new questions after hearing the inevitable, ‘yes, the crowd were amazing’ and ‘yes, the noise was incredible.’ Nice then, to be able to delve into the League One supporters forums to get wound up about something completely different. As someone that found the Conference years traumatic, it’s sobering to look at the competition this season. I thought we’d left Gary Johnson, Stevenage and Graham Westley behind us but there they are again. It’s like the awful realisation that

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my steamy X-rated Olympic night of passion was just a dream (for the record that’s the Victoria Pendleton one – not the regrettable, inexplicable one with Sue Barker). Graham ******* Westley for God’s sake...I want the Championship back. In a division now bereft of Leeds, there’s a surprising amount of modesty. The fans of the majority of clubs seem to be predicting mid-table mediocrity for their sides and most of these would snap your hand off for the guarantee of finishing 20th or higher. Sound familiar? Only the Blades, Swindon Town and MK Dons dare to dream. Such optimism appears well placed as most forums are voting these three as the most-likely-to-succeed. The vote for most-likely-to-get-upyour-nose is Preston, or Graham Westley’s Preston North End and they are destined to be named. Everyone is unanimous in their expectations that this famous old club will adopt the same physical, spoiling and controversial persona of his Stevenage outfit. The locals aren’t convinced...

‘He’s a tit and the best we can hope for is that he endures a horrific opening 8 games and get sacked leaving 38 games for a proper football manager to come in and give us something to be proud of ’...’The club of Tom Finney, with Westley as manager and Peter Ridsdale as chairman. How the hell did that happen?’

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Fans of many teams are casting an eye on Bournemouth and querying how a club that has sailed close to oblivion and suffered points deductions on two occasions in recent years can be splashing the cash. This includes a small number of their own...

‘1. Is the manager up to it? 2. Is our marquee signing up to it? 3. Have we spent ‘the money’ wisely? 4. We have a massive squad, but it isn’t oozing quality like £6 million should? 5. Our wage bill is ridiculous, and if we don’t reach the Championship this time around how many season can we sustain this for? 6. Can Eddie Mitchell get any rounder? 7. Can Eddie Mitchell get any oranger? 8. Where is left to tarmac? 9. How many big time Charlies can a League One club accommodate? 10. Are we now the Manchester City of League One? ...let’s hope that this gamble pays off...’ I can answer Question No.10 for him... no. They’re loving the enforced departure of Brian Stock down on the South Coast. Someone commented that Rovers ‘are in a bit of trouble’... and ‘that whole O’Driscoll success thing was just built on sand’ .Well, coming from a club that’s had points deductions twice in recent seasons, they’d probably do well to shut up and keep their heads down. Still, at least they’ve stopped moaning about Rovers nicking Sean O’Driscoll. They seem reasonably confident over in Scunthorpe despite being most forum’s favourites for the drop alongside Walsall and Portsmouth. Amazingly they see themselves as a big fish in a small pond, even to the

The unfathomable presence of a mug... holding a cup of coffee.

extent where... ‘I can’t believe we didn’t take advantage of Donny’s plight to get George Friend. Can’t believe we lost out to ‘Boro’. Others display a healthy sense of humour... ‘Bottom 4 after 10 games . Manager sacked. Laws brought in and team to steadily climb the league ending season in 6th place then going on to beat Doncaster 5 - 4 in the play off final.’ I particularly enjoyed the Stevenage supporters who were riled about Jon Ashton being a target for Rovers. One fan was moved to provide an updated list of the clubs he will ‘hate for ever’ which now includes Rovers alongside Hitchin, Borehamwood, Purfleet, Letchworth, Ruislip and Saffron Walden. We really have arrived back in the big time. So, new history to be made, chapters to be written; we all start on zero points and all that. Bring it on. Then I remembered that Lineker is back with Match of The Day. And it was all going so well.

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TO LINDUM AND BACK Its been a good decade to be a Rovers fan, as Chris Kidd reflects, on the eve of the new season. For the first time since 1998 Rovers start the season a league lower than they started the previous campaign; when you look at it like this there aren’t too many clubs outside the Premier League who can boast a similar record. We had an astonishing decade of football that in the modern game will, to my mind, never be matched by a club of similar stature, resources and supporter. Unfortunately the John Ryan Express just ran out of steam towards the last couple of years culminating with our drop into the third tier last season. Looking back perhaps the fourth and, for now, final season in the Championship was rather apt as it had us in the headlines throughout the season despite propping twenty three other teams up for many of the forty six games. If there is one thing unfashionable, Yorkshire lower tier teams can be certain of it is not getting any coverage in local and national media. Somehow Donny Rovers defied that by always managing to grab the headlines along the way; be it winning the Conference Cup, gaining promotion back to the Football League, winning Division Three at the first time of asking, beating Aston Villa, Manchester City and almost Arsenal in that Carling Cup run, winning the JPT at Cardiff and finally beating the much fancied and former European Champions (well they almost were) Leeds United in the Play Off Final at Wembley.

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Again, when you look back at that it has been a cracking decade of football. It was a shame to see what had been built up over that period undone so quickly with so little grace and what seemed little regard for the people that had helped make it happen along the way, including the most important resource of any football club, the supporters. It’s been done to death and I don’t intend to cover it all again here. We are going to see a lot of change this season and that mainly focuses on the squad; there has been a big turnover this summer with some cracking players leaving us in order to balance the books. Players such as Brian Stock, Jimmy O’Connor and Adam Lockwood played a lot of games for us over the most successful period in the club’s history, and earn the title of club legends, thanks lads. So the 2012/13 season will be underway by the time you read these words for the game against Crawley; it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as West Ham United does it? Nevertheless if there is one thing I have looked forward to about this season it’s the fixtures against some of the brilliant established League One teams such as Hartlepool, Bury, Walsall and Crewe, not forgetting familiar faces at this level like Sheffield United. This is a chance to reacquaint ourselves with football’s real heroes in the third and fourth tiers of the pyramid. This is where the

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real football is, the real stadiums where folk watch their football without a care for the millions being splashed around on the Premier League. There are some good fixtures to be had this season where a lot of memories from our evolution up the leagues will be brought right before us. Leyton Orient for the first game back in the Football League, Yeovil with whom we battled with in the Conference many times and close rivals Scunthorpe. There don’t appear to be any stand out contenders for the title from what I can see. Naturally Sheffield United will be tipped for success but I don’t see the quality in their team at present, Notts County appear to have made some shrewd investments, they are my tip for a team to watch out for. Failing those two I think its wide open for a Play Off place. It will be interesting to see how other clubs have approached the new regulations on player’s wages only making up 60% of the clubs total expenditure based on respective incomes. I don’t pretend to know these new rules inside out but from what can be read it appears this will only cultivate the gap between the larger and smaller clubs in terms of potential for success. In basic terms surely a club like Sheffield United will be able to afford a totally unrivalled wage bill in League One as opposed

to that of Hartlepool or Yeovil Town which solely comes down to the fact Sheffield United have a massive income from gate receipts and sponsorship whereas the other two do not. It will be interesting to see if the regulations have imposed tighter spending on players and it will force clubs to think about what they are doing a lot more. At the time of writing the Rovers squad can only be described as threadbare, there looks to be a good starting ten or eleven and not much else. I can’t help but feel a little worried as history suggests we tend to pick up our fair share of aches and pains along the way. Apparently Shelton Martis was spotted running in the gym at Lakeside, but then the same guy told me Justin Jackson would score thirty goals for Rovers. We need to bring at least another half a dozen in consisting of a goalkeeper, a couple of defenders, a Brian Stock type midfielder and a quick striker. Additionally on top of that we need bodies to make the squad up. Here’s hoping the team list on DROS looks a bit healthier by 31st August.

CJK

Happy memories at Brisbane Road

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A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS? Mike Follows looks forward to next season on an empty stomach Snail porridge. Duck in chocolate sauce wrapped in a tobacco leaf. Bacon ice-cream. None work on paper; but you don’t eat paper and you don’t win football matches on it either. That much was self-evident as an array of big-name players littering Rovers’ Championship campaign with champagne, fast cars and diamond earstuds ultimately failed to satisfy our hunger for Championship success. It’s not difficult to see why the Donny board would be tempted to try something a little it different last season with a squad full of players oozing top-flight experience, but unfortunately they were all garnish and no stodge. The unfortunate result of our longexpected relegation is the enforced costcutting which has forced us to dispense with the stable, dependable and loyal players on whom our recent success has been built. The likes of Jimmy O’Connor, Simon Gillett and George Friend were the bread and butter of the team. The ingredients which put together in the right way became much more than the sum of the parts. Considering all that, it’s going to be a tough old season. Being a Rovers fan, you wouldn’t settle for any less though. The squad is going to be tight but too many cooks spoil the broth and if the players can gel together and – crucially – stay fit we could see the fighting spirit of the indomitable underdog returning. The necessary injection of youth into the team with a few home-grown players making their way through the

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ranks is testament to the long-term plans introduced by Sean O’Driscoll when he joined the club. Now the crop is maturing, it’s up to the current management to season the team with the vibrancy the youngsters will bring. The squad may have been split like a bad soufflé last season and the supporters left with a bitter taste but that’s behind us now and it’s not just up to the lads on the pitch to pull together. We all have our part to play in the stands and for the good of the club, the fans need to draw a line under the backbiting and turmoil that differences of opinion brought. Of course we all have our own take on every moment of every match and that shouldn’t ever change but some of the nonsense on the fora and social media sites has been pretty embarrassing of late. It’s time to rebuild and revitalise together. Humble pie washed down with a good swallow of pride is never appetising but it’s a necessary medicine we need to take. With more players added since the York game where we couldn’t even fill the bench we’re putting the nouvelle, less is more approach behind us and hopefully by the time you read this we’ll have a full complement of players ready to show League One that we’re no Yorkshire puddings. We might not be a gastropub team any more but sometimes you can’t beat a pint of ale and a cheese & onion butty. Whatever happens this season we’ll still be having a laugh. Rovers ‘Til I Die!

MF

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SOUNDING THE BELLES In acknowledgement of today’s double header fixture, we present this four-page pull-out to help you get to know Doncaster Belles and the FAWSL, starting with a round-up of the season so far. Back in February I stood on my old school field and watched Doncaster Rovers pick apart Manchester City as they cruised to a 5-0 win. No, not a dream, but the reality of watching the Belles take apart City’s Ladies side in a pre-season friendly. After a disappointing first FAWSL season, the Belles, with the addition of experienced international Sue Smith to their side, were confident of kicking on this campaign, and on the evidence of that performance they had every reason to be optimistic. But football never runs smoothly, and before a ball had even been kicked in the FAWSL, the Belles lost their star turn. On her competitive debut at Barnet in the FA Cup Smith started encouragingly with a goal, but didn’t see out the half, carried off with medial and cruciate ligament damage to her knee that would rule her out for the season. “A disaster for Sue and a disaster for the club,” was how manager John Buckley put it and it wasn’t an overstatement, Sue’s experience was to be vital in a very young Belles side, and with a meagre budget, replacing her was out of the question.

Despite a couple of disappointing results in the Continental Cup there was encouragement for the Belles in May. Firstly they battled hard away at Bristol Academy, coming from behind twice before eventually losing 3-2 to an injury time goal. Rather than dwell on the nature of the defeat they managed to build on the performance and a week later notched a surprise hard-fought 2-1 victory at Lincoln. However, the joy was to be sadly short-lived, as the Belles crashed to two more defeats before the mid-season break. A loss at Birmingham perhaps expected, but the home defeat to fellow strugglers Liverpool, albeit to two stunning strikes, dropped the Belles to the foot of the table. Post Olympics that is sadly where the Belles remain in the FAWSL, although they do have two games in hand on Liverpool and Lincoln above them. Since returning to action the Belles have again been on the wrong end of narrow scorelines, losing by a single goal to both Everton and Chelsea last week. Today the Belles face league leaders and reigning champions Arsenal; unbeaten in the FAWSL coming into this they are a daunting proposition. The Belles will be hoping to take encouragement by the results achieved against the Gunners by Lincoln, with the Lady Imps having drawn with Arsenal in the League and defeated them in the Continental Cup at Ashby Avenue. It’s a big ask, but with a decent home support, who knows?

The Belles defeated Barnet, but went out in the next round, losing 2-0 at home to Chelsea, though the crowd of 600 was certainly an encouragement. Chelsea were the Belles opponents on the opening day of the new FAWSL season too, a game broadcast live on ESPN. Belles struck first through new signing, Canadian Alyssa Lagonia, but would go on to lose 3-1 to the Londoners. popularSTAND // ISSUE 59 // AUG-SEPT 2012

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THE SUPER WOMEN Editor Glen Wilson takes a look at the changes to the game brought on by the launch of the FA Women’s Super League. “That’s the future of women’s football in this country,” said Alan Smart, pointing to a bouncy castle in the stadium concourse. I presumed his intonation was of family engagement rather than revolutionary ‘bouncy football’, but before I could clarify his phone rang. It often does. Alan is Vice Chairman at Doncaster Rovers Belles, one of the eight teams in the FA Women’s Super League, and on a matchday his role involves everything from entertaining potential sponsors to supervising bouncy castles. The FAWSL launched in 2011 an in just its second season has already achieved many of its aims; attendances are up, media coverage has increased, and the league has been able to attract and retain many of the country’s top players (although success here has been helped as much by the suspension of the WPS League in the US as the FA’s own endeavours). Since the formation of the FAWSL the number of people regularly watching top flight women’s football has increased dramatically; the 2011 average attendance of 550 representing a 604% increase on the previous season’s Women’s Premier League. Thanks to a league record 5,052 who saw Arsenal defeat Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium in April that average looks destined to increase again in 2012, and the FA and clubs alike will be hopeful that the interest

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afforded the British Olympic football team rubs off on the domestic game. Especially as crowds though do still fluctuate; only 105 watched Liverpool host Bristol Academy, whilst even Chelsea can struggle to breach 300. Coverage of the league from ESPN has ensured unprecedented media exposure for the domestic women’s game. In addition to a weekly 30 minute highlights programme ESPN broadcast six live matches a season – the Belles’ game at Chelsea kicking off the 2012 coverage - with peak time viewing figures for the FAWSL reportedly on a par with those received by Scottish Premier League coverage. Whilst such comparisons with the men’s game are helpful in understanding the league’s impact the FAWSL, like Smart, recognise the need to offer a different ‘product’ if they are to attract fans. In comparison to the wary trepidation with which the arbiters of the men’s game have offered social media the sort of reluctant distant embrace usually reserved a chance encounter with a former colleague you can’t remember the name of, the FAWSL has openly welcomed the opportunity to promote via this platform.

“Social media gives us the opportunity to really bring fans and players closer together,” says the FAWSL’s Digital Manager Leigh Moore. To that end

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match highlights are regularly uploaded onto YouTube, and a player at each club serves as a Digital Ambassador; maintaining a Facebook page detailing their activities and wearing their Twitter handle on their shirt. “They will be giving fans a glimpse at what they get up to on and off the pitch which hopefully can inspire the next generation of top women’s footballers,” explains Moore. So far so good then, but the FAWSL is not without teething problems. The switch to summer football may have taken the game out of the men’s shadow, but it also means an already short 14 game season is cleaved in half by international tournaments. Maintaining the interest of new fans and sponsors can’t be helped by a six week break just as things start to get interesting. And for a league focussed on community there are some curious venue choices; Birmingham’s ‘home’ is 30 miles away at Stratford, whilst playing May’s Merseyside derby at Widnes meant a crowd 510 lower than 2011’s corresponding fixture at Marine. Pitches and facilities are an ongoing issue for sides. Only Bristol Academy boast their own ground, the rest of the Super League sides groundshare; six

Arsenal lift the inaugural FAWSL title.

at non-league facilities, adjusting to the variable bounce offered by playing surfaces used all year round, whilst the Belles of course are housed here at the Keepmoat, an excellent facility, but one which serves to make their healthy attendances seem much less significant when vastly outnumbered by empty red plastic. Though the FA has invested significantly in the Super League, financing a professional team on limited means remains a huge challenge for some of its participants. The FAWSL recommended club operating budget is £160k, about a fifth of the average Premier League player’s salary. To be part of the FAWSL clubs had to match fund the £70,000 awarded to them by the FA; established women’s clubs such as Sunderland and Leeds couldn’t do it, and so the well-backed Lincoln took the eighth place at the top table. In order to secure the funding needed for a place in the FAWSL Doncaster Belles became a social enterprise. Even with FAWSL salary caps to maintain parity (clubs can only pay four players more than £20,000 a year) teams tied in with top flight men’s clubs remain at a distinct financial advantage. There is much encouragement to be gained from the increase in exposure and attendances brought on by the formation of the FAWSL, but it also serves to highlight just how little the women’s game in England had been supported prior to its launch, and how much of a gap there is still to breach. And so whilst the Glazers take time out from board meetings to ensure their club doesn’t bounce on the NY Stock exchange, Alan Smart takes a five minute breather from his mobile beneath the stand to ensure that kids don’t bounce without taking their shoes off first.

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FIVE BELLES

PLAYERS TO WATCH popular STAND picks out five players to keep your eye on tonight

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“YES, I HAVE GOT COLOURED BLOOD - IT’S RED” Courtesy of Jack the Miner we’re delighted to present a fascinating look at Charlie Williams; Rovers’ first black player. Five young men head for Blackpool for a short summer break. Four of them knock at the door of a boarding house with a ‘Vacancies’ sign in the window. Their friend waits at the gate with their luggage. The door opens.

‘Hello, do you have room for us all for two nights? ‘Yes’ says the owner and beckons them in before looking up and noticing the lone friend by the gate. ‘Is that gentleman part of your party?’ asks the owner. ‘Yes, he is’ they reply. The owner scratches his head and says ‘I’m sorry. I was mistaken. We don’t have any rooms. I’m afraid I can’t help you.’ The friends turn on their heels and troop down the path. It’s been a long day. It’s a scene that’s been played out again and again. The friends are crestfallen but are determined to continue with their search. As they approach their solitary associate he tells them, ‘This’ll keep ‘appenin every time they see me. You lads sort yourselves out. I’ll look after meself. I’ll be allrate.’ It’s the 1950’s. The tired, disconsolate bunch of mates are a group of football

players from Doncaster Rovers and Sheffield Wednesday. The young chap standing over the suitcases is Charlie Williams. There was no question of leaving Charlie to his own devices and they gave up their search and the party returned home. On a later trip to Blackpool they were faced with a long day of similar responses. Faced with a boarding house landlady who was dithering over her decision...’it’s not me it’s the reaction of the other guests’...Charlie stepped into the kitchen, slipped on an apron and put on a comic turn whilst doing the washing up and had the old girl in stitches. She let them stay and they were regular visitors thereafter. This prejudice Charlie found as an adult seems to have been at odds with his early life in West Yorkshire. His father was the only black man for miles and was welcomed into the community. He worked hard and had the respect due to a man who had come from Barbados to fight in World War II. As a child, Charlie was well treated in school by the staff and by adults in general, something he later put down to being a ‘lovable rarity’. Moving to Upton to live with family, after his father’s death, Charlie was still largely free of the racism evident in other parts of the country. ‘My

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“YES I DO HAVE COLOURED BLOOD” // CONTINUED colour didn’t matter down the pit. We had no time for daft things like that... Colliers are a breed of their own. They’ve a wonderful sense of humour – they have to have.’ The 50’s saw a marked shift in attitude towards immigration and the black community already present in the UK. Charlie was increasingly aware of this, especially when he started dating Audrey, a white girl who later became his wife, but reckoned he had an ability to sniff trouble coming and avoid it. But there was no means of escape on the football pitch. He reckoned in the early days with Rovers, the away crowd would let out a huge gasp every time he walked onto the playing field, a sign of the huge shock it was to see a

player of colour on the field. ‘I’ll kill you, you black b*****d.’ said one Number 9. Opposition supporters were predictably and equally vicious but Charlie reckoned it spurred him on, noting that ‘if I’d played for their side I’d have been a grand lad.’ One of his team mates told me that these days there’d be stewards, police and the FA taking action on the abuse thrown Charlie’s way... ‘He used to say it didn’t bother him but it did. It had to. Some of the lads might have put the odd naughty challenge in to any player who’d said too much by way of revenge but by and large he got his own back by his performance. I think people forget he was on the books at Rovers for twelve years and played alongside Harry Gregg Len Graham, Bert Tindall and Alick Jeffrey. He got up the opposition’s noses by doing his job well. It annoys me that people think of him as a famous comedian who happened to play for Doncaster Rovers. He was a good player in what might be the best side Rovers ever had’. In 1962 he was offered a well paid, player-coach job in Sydney but when the Australian immigration office realised he was black they blocked his application. A national press campaign resulted in a change of heart from the Australians. Charlie said no... ‘to hell with that....you refused me and that’s it’. None of these footballing experiences seems to have made him bitter. He recalled that ‘we’d call each other names during the match but afterwards you would shake hands and be friends. Some fans would even come up and say sorry’. And he remained phlegmatic about prejudice in general, noting that black Africans and West Indians would look down

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their noses at him because he was mixed race... ‘The whole colour prejudice thing is so mixed up, so daft, that you’ve got to laugh at it.’ That absence of anger, refusal to politicise the colour issue and some of his colour related comedy material drew criticism from some quarters but time seems to have mellowed the way he is viewed. Lenny Henry - who Charlie said he’d like to play him if a film was ever made about his life story - said ‘Charlie Williams was perfect for the time he appeared. It was a brilliant thing, this black Yorkshireman who played football with Doncaster Rovers, who’d had the wartime experience of white Yorkshire people, who talked like them, who thought like them, but who just happened to be black...and Charlie exploited this to the full.’ And referring to the

sometimes un-PC material he used, Henry said: ‘I went through a period of thinking it was all bad, but I just think it was the times and you did what you had to do to get by. I think you did what you had to do to survive in a predominantly white world.’ The last time I saw Charlie he was a white haired old gentleman struggling to take his seat at Belle Vue but finding enough strength to rise to his feet to acknowledge the ovation from those around him and on the terrace below where everyone had turned to applaud him. Having taken the abuse in his early life, risen above it and handled it with dignity and humour it was nice to see him received so warmly, and quite poignant that he was able look out onto the pitch and see that the many black players on both sides were treated with the respect denied him in his own playing days.

JTM

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PICKING A BEST XI Long-serving, and by definition long-suffering, supporter David Waugh looks back at half a century following Doncaster Rovers to pick out his Best XI Since my first match at Belle Vue, a 3-2 win against Barrow in February 1962 in front of 2,800 fans, I had, until the last ten years, seen more downs than ups. There have been many seasons when I haven’t missed a home game, and one, 2009-10, in which I saw every game home and away. This hardly matches the dedication of some people, but does make my family think I’m slightly mad. For 27 of the past 50 years I played (sadly never for Rovers, who turned me down after a trial in 1969), so only attended a few games each season, but I’ve still watched Donny around 1,500 times and feel able to name a best eleven, which I hope will provoke some discussion. Of course, this could comprise almost entirely players from the Championship years on the grounds that they must be the best because they played at the highest level of any Rovers players in my time. However, I’ve gone for players whose contributions at the club’s level at the time they played were outstanding.

GOALKEEPER

Andy Warrington; his stunning saves gained us two promotions. Almost every game featured something which most other keepers at that level would have missed.

DEFENDERS

Jimmy O’Connor; a consistent hard-

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working and skilful player who can play at centre back or full back. John Nicholson; sadly killed ain a car crash but a towering force in the 1960s and a great leader, as well as a nice bloke – well he signed my programme at Chester once and was very polite. Steve Foster; like Bobby Moore in a Rovers shirt: skilful, clam and read the game well. George Friend; reads the game well, skilful on the ball, good in the air, and intelligent. If we had kept him, we’d have been certain to make the playoffs this year.

MIDFIELD

James Coppinger; works his socks off, has the best first touch at the club (including the mercenaries we’ve seen) and is a loyal club man. He’ll leave soon because he’s much too good for League 1, but no-one will begrudge him a move. Brian Stock; I think we only managed to keep him because he’s always getting injured, but his presence always gave us a chance of winning. His passing is outstanding and when he’s fit he’s the Paul Scholes of the Championship. Ian Snodin; it’s a pity many people will only remember him from the Conference days because he was

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outstanding in his pomp and a dedicated Rover. Michael McIndoe; a pity he left on a sour note for a “bigger club”, but when he played he was the most influential player since Alick Jeffrey.

FORWARDS

Alick Jeffrey; memories can be rosetinted here and I do remember the crowd having a go at him, just as they have at John Oster recently, but that was probably because, like Oster, he set high standards and we expected him to deliver every week. I only saw his second coming from 1964, but he was the most gifted player I ever saw in a Rovers shirt. Ask older fans about the cup goal at Bradford when he beat half the team from the half-way line with a mazy dribble, or the hat-trick against Exeter, his four goals against Darlington etc etc. Billy Sharp; the crowd reaction to him warming up as a sub when he came

back from injury was reminiscent of Jeffrey’s return against Southport in 1964. How could you fail to pick such a whole-hearted, aggressive, enthusiastic goalscorer?

SUBSTITUTES

John Oster; covers every blade of grass, confident on the ball and a great passer. Richie Wellens; revived his career at Doncaster and has terrific vision. Glyn Snodin; quick, skilful and hardworking. Peter Kitchen; almost up there with Sharp and Jeffrey in front of goal. Laurie Sheffield; often did Alick’s work for him and scored lots of goals.

MANAGER

Sean O’Driscoll – what a pity it turned sour in 2011. Honest, intelligent, dedicated to playing the right way, including not kicking the opposition, diving and arguing with referees (what would he have made of Diouf?).

DW

. I . P S R E D N U SA

IT’S ANOTHER JOB FOR

the slowest, most trusting detective around

EPISODE 3: THE OLYMPIC GATE-CRASHER

“I’ve spoken to the girl in the red jacket and blue trousers, Madhura Nagendra, she says wasn’t there and I believe her... my investigations are still ongoing.”

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VOICE OF THE POP SIDE John Coyle finds himself struggling to get excited for the season ahead.

EXCITED? ME NEITHER

A few days before the start of the new season a work colleague asked me who I thought would be the movers and shakers in the Premier League. He likes a bet you see, and he knows how much I am into football. Surely I could mark his card about a team or two who might perform above expectations - or conversely could be in for a long, hard season. I’m afraid I had to disappoint him: I’d given the coming season barely a thought, and if you ask me who had joined the ranks of, say, Liverpool then, to coin the name of a radio programme, “I’m sorry- I haven’t a clue.”

and a lot of fun. I got over to the Ricoh Arena, re-branded as the City of Coventry Stadium, and saw the eventual Gold Medallists, Mexico, put two into the same goal I’d seen James Hayter and Simon Gillett score into back in April. The rest I saw on TV, but watching the likes of Hoy, Pendleton, Bolt, Ennis, Katherine Grainger, David Rudisha and Mo Farah provided some really special moments for those who love their sport. Surely my appetite for football, though, would be whetted by all this competitive activity?

On the contrary, as the football season approaches I keep encountering that feeling that someone might have as they contemplate an imminent Maybe it is a function of advancing return to a particularly dreary job years, but the football season always after a fortnight of fun in the sun. seems to come around too soon these The situation Rovers find themselves days. Of course, there have been plenty in doesn’t help, though I’m not sure of distractions this close season. The it explains my mood. The arguments domestic season may have finished and debates over what happened relatively early, but with Euro 2012 at the Keepmoat last season have hard on its heels, it doesn’t seem all been rehearsed many times and I that long since I watched football. don’t propose to revisit them here. In Sadly the cricket season has been a many ways, Rovers have had quite bit of a washout, a real pity as for a good summer. They have secured me there’s nothing better on a hot an agreement to run the stadium, summer’s day than watching cricket appointed a Chief Executive who while sipping a cold beer. Then there seems to be brimming with good ideas were the Olympics. Yes, I found the and they are taking steps towards build-up over the top and more than building better relations with the a little boring - the BBC’s countdown supporters. In any case, relegation clock reminded me of the old nuclear hardly came as a surprise, at least not clock- except that you knew this to me as I had forecast it before a ball one wouldn’t stop at five minutes to was kicked and before there was any midnight. Yet when it arrived, it was talk about agents and experiments. I gripping, thrilling and a lot of fun. I attended the York game in the Capital popularSTAND // ISSUE 59 // AUG-SEPT 2012 26


One Cup, and although hardly enthused by the fare on offer, I have to accept that maybe we’ve been spoiled over the last few seasons by the quality of the players and football on show, not just from those in red and white hoops. And anyway, we won the tie. Maybe it is football itself I am tiring of, rather than Doncaster Rovers. It is, of course, quite possible to love the latter without particularly liking the game in its totality. Maybe a few exciting games, either involving Rovers or on television, will fire my enthusiasm again. At the moment, I just wish they could delay the already-delayed start to the season that little bit longer. Ready or not, though, a new season is upon us and Rovers are back in League One for the first time since 2008. I have seen some pretty bold predictions about play-offs and even automatic promotion, but I think a little realism is called for. 2011-12 was a traumatic season for a number of reasons, and it will take Rovers some time to recover. The change of managers from Sean O’Driscoll to Dean Saunders represents a considerable change, both in personality and philosophy. Saunders is more outgoing than O’Driscoll, especially in his dealings with the media, and also appears to be a pragmatist in his approach to how he wants his teams to play. That is not necessarily a bad thing - just quite different to what Rovers fans have been accustomed. The other issue that needs to be remembered is that at last Saunders is putting what he considers to be “his” team into place. Many of the players who starred under O’Driscoll have left, and last season’s “experiment” which precipitated a revolving door of trialists, loanees and short-term expedients seems to be have been put to bed. I’m not going to burden the manager with high

expectations: I expect this to be a season of consolidation and a midtable finish is the extent of my hopes, perhaps with a cup run thrown in. As the likes of Leeds, Forest and the two Sheffield clubs have found in the past, League One is not an easy league from which to bounce straight back. A bit of patience may be needed from all concerned this season. In the aftermath of the Olympics, professional footballers have seemingly been exempt from the general praise for sportspeople. The journalist Hunter Davies claimed that “footballers should be embarrassed and ashamed, absolutely. Their behaviour on the whole is so bad, so arrogant, they keep saying that should be respected, that they deserve respect. But they are rubbish.” Leaving aside the fact that Davies has made a good living out of football, including his work as ghost writer to one of those oft-criticised players, Wayne Rooney, it is easy to contrast the relatively modest rewards achieved by our Olympic athletes with the salaries paid to top footballers. Even more so, though, it is grossly unfair to tar all “footballers” with the same brush. Doncaster Rovers FC has been lucky to have in its ranks over recent years players who are as far removed from the general stereotype of the arrogant, overblown superstar as it is possible to be. Men like Brian Stock, Jimmy O’Connor, Mark Wilson, Billy Sharp and George Friend are a credit to their profession in the way they have conducted themselves. As a result, their departures from the club have been met with good wishes for their future career, and not with the rancour that often accompanies a player moving on. Certainly as far as I am concerned, they will all be welcomed back at the Keepmoat, should our paths and theirs cross in the future. JC

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MEET THE NEW BOYS First time at the Keepmoat this season? Not to worry, Mike Follows gives you a guide to the new faces at the Rovers Relegation from the Championship was always going to lead to a costcutting exercise with high earners departing the club. Of course we needed to add some new faces to compensate for this so here’s a roundup of some of the key signings made this Summer.

David Syers

Attacking midfielder. Syers joined from Bradford where he was voted their Players’ Player of the Season. He had a tumultuous start to life as he was found in a banana crate next to a skip at Goole docks. Despite this, he made a successful career in sport although a throwback to his early days is his insistence on eating a banana at half time in every match. Little known fact: He has an intense fear of spiders.

Paul Quinn

Right back. Paul is equally at home bombing forward on the football pitch as he is knocking a few reds to bed on the snooker table. He hopes to turn pro on the green baize when his footballing days are over and says his heroes are Ronnie O’Sullivan, Dennis Taylor and Bill Werbeniuk. Little known fact: Has six toes on each foot.

Keepmoat catering menu. Blake has known for some time that he would be joingin the Rovers and has been instrumental in sealing the deal for Rovers to take over the running of the stadium. He has offered to play in return for savoury meat and pastry based snacks. Little known fact: Is an avid cross-stitcher

Rob Jones

Centre half. Jones has good feet and is very agile for a big man, and it’s no surprise as he comes from a long line of circus acrobats. His family gave up the itinerant lifestyle to nurture Rob’s burgeoning football talent when he was seen by a scout for Ajax performing his skills of juggling a ball with his feet whilst walking on his hands across a tightrope above a cage of hungry lions. Little known fact: His diet consists of nothing but Haribo Happy Cola Bottles.

Robbie Blake

Forward. Robbie looks like he’s carrying a bit of extra weight but it would be harsh to judge him for it as he’s spent much of the last year testing pie recipes for the all new

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Billy Paynter gets another goat in focus

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Jamie McCombe

Defender. McCombe joins from Huddersfield where he was both centre-half and a stunt double for the Victoria Tower. Born in Pontefract, McCombe puts his footballing ability down to a childhood diet of nothing but the local delicacy; Pontefract Cakes. It was either that or the large amount of football he played. Either way, his tongue is as black as a coalminer’s inner ear. Little known fact: Had a walk-on part in Eldorado

Billy Paynter

Forward. Arrived from Leeds, where, having spent two years in close proximity of Ken Bates has become traumatised to the extent that he is mute and only communicates by scoring goals, one goal for ‘yes’, no goals for ‘it’s not my afternoon boss’. Contrary to popular belief Billy Paynter is actually his nickname, earned from his unusual hobby of depicting goats in watercolour. Little known fact: Collects Barbies

David Cotterill

Attacking midfielder. Cotterill Opened his Rovers account in style with a goal from the edge of the centre circle at Walsall, fulfilling a boyhood dream to emulate his hero, Darren Uttley. Says Cotterill: “I remember when I was a kid, I was watching Endsleigh League Extra with Gabriel Clarke. I had just about managed to make it through the “Nostalgia” section without dropping off when I saw the highlights of Doncaster Rovers’ midweek away tie at Cardiff. Being Welsh (which I definitely am), I always looked out for highlights of clubs from the land of my fathers but I was shocked and amazed by the goal that I saw that night. Darren Uttley thumped an absolute screamer into the Bluaebirds’ goal from fully 50 yards!” Little known fact: David is allergic to the colour Mauve.

“Slinky” Sasha Cotterill

Wife of David. Hates Dingles.

MF

. I . P S R E D SAUN

THE CONTINUING ADVENTURES of

the slowest, most trusting detective around

EPISODE 4: WAS THAT A HAND?

“I’ve spoken to Diego Maradona, he says he didn’t handball it and I believe him... my investigations are still ongoing.”

popularSTAND // ISSUE 59 // AUG-SEPT 2012

29


WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND It’s late summer in the Netherlands, the canals are busy with holiday-makers, tulips are being planted, ;gapping’ teens are getting stoned in the cafes of Amsterdam, and, in his bunker, our statistician Dutch Uncle turns his attention to the third tier. The first imprint of Doncaster Rovers in my memory was as a young boy listening to the football results on a Saturday afternoon. I remember asking my Dad what Division Doncaster were in and he replied “Third Division but they’ll be in the Fourth next year if they don’t watch out”. I can conclude two things from this: firstly my father was obviously a good pundit because indeed Rovers were relegated that season, and secondly it must have been the 195859 season If we forget the one-off single Third Division of the 1920-21 season prior to the introduction of the two parallel regionalised Third Division North and Season

Pl

1958-59 46 1966-67 46 1969-70 46 1970-71 46 1981-82 46 1982-83 46 1984-85 46 1985-86 46 1986-87 46 1987-88 46 2004-05 46 2005-06 46 2006-07 46 2007-08 46 Total 644

30

W

Home D L

13 11 13 8 9 6 11 7 11 6 10 11 8 14 138

Away Goals For Agn W D L

2 8 40 32 6 6 40 40 4 6 31 19 5 10 28 27 9 5 31 24 8 9 38 44 5 7 42 33 10 6 20 21 8 4 32 19 5 12 25 36 11 2 35 20 6 6 30 19 10 5 30 23 4 5 34 18 93 91 456 375

1 1 4 5 4 3 6 9 3 2 6 9 8 9 70

3 2 8 4 8 3 3 6 7 4 7 3 5 7 70

19 20 11 14 11 17 14 8 13 17 10 11 10 7 182

South from 1921-22 up to 1957-58, then Rovers can indeed claim to be founder members of the third tier since 1958-59 was the inaugural season of national leagues Division 3 and Division 4. It was a miserable season for Rovers who, following a mass exodus of players and little new investment, were relegated to Division 4. I’m sure we all hope lessons have been learnt and history will not repeat itself this year. In fact of the 54 seasons since 195859 we have spent most of these in the 4th Tier, and only 14 in Tier 3. The performances in these 14 seasons are summarised in the following table:

Goals Goals For Agn For Agn

Average Points 2/win 3/win Pos Home Att

10 58 50 90 18 77 58 117 21 35 52 54 17 39 45 66 24 44 55 68 19 53 57 97 30 41 72 74 25 31 45 52 24 43 56 62 15 48 40 84 30 40 65 60 25 32 55 51 22 24 52 47 31 23 65 41 311 588 767 963

33 32 46 35 43 29 42 48 43 25 50 49 47 57 579

47 44 63 48 56 38 59 64 57 33 66 69 63 80 787

22 23 11 23 19 23 14 11 13 24 10 8 11 3 15

6664 7909 8562 4478 5234 3541 4103 2804 2449 1913 6886 6139 7725 7978 5456

Average Away Att 10266 7166 7922 7530 5001 4724 4914 4412 3894 5098 8719 8221 7333 8273 6677

popularSTAND // ISSUE 59 // AUG-SEPT 2012


After our Division 4 Championship seasons of 1965-6 and 1968-9 a swift return was made in both cases. In particular the 1966-7 season was one of the most disappointing on the club’s history. A season which started with strong hopes for a high finish was derailed after only two matches by the tragic road accident which cost the life of skipper John Nicholson and injured Alick Jeffrey. Then to the ire of nearly all fans star striker Laurie Sheffield was sold to Norwich when the club was in mid table after 15 games. A series of heavy defeats, especially on the road where the last 18 away matches of the season were lost, saw 117 goals conceded and inevitable relegation. It was 1981under Billy Bremner before Division 3 was reached again. However, after flirting with the drop in 1981-2, relegation became a fact after the crazy season of 1982-3. After failing to score in the opening 3 games Rovers found form with a bang by beating Exeter 6-1 in the fourth game of the season. This result, with the next 3 home matches (against Reading, Wigan and Brentford), produced a sequence of 6-1, 7-5, 3-6 and 4-4, looking for all the world like the score in a tennis match abandoned in the fourth set. Alas our goals scored dried up with Rovers being scoreless in 20 of the 46 games.

Dave Mackay at the helm, we suffered our last relegation from Division 3, and it wasn’t until 2004 under Dave Penney that we returned to what had now become Football League 1. The following 4 seasons are to date our best in Tier 3 with of course promotion to the Championship secured under Sean O’ Driscoll at Wembley in 2008. Let us all hope we can carry on from where we left off. Unfortunately I cannot ask my father for his clearly infallible prediction because he passed away in 2009, but he did at least get to see Rovers in the Championship. The 1958-9 Division 3 table contains a few interesting names, with current or recent top-flight teams QPR, Southampton, Reading, Norwich and Hull on the one hand, and current or recent Conference sides Accrington Stanley, Halifax, Newport County, Mansfield, Stockport and Wrexham on the other. Severe financial woes have cost the first 3 of these latter teams dearly. This season we shall see former Premier League teams Coventry, Oldham, Portsmouth and Sheffield United (note MK Dons not included). However the change in football financial realities means that it is some of these ‘larger’ clubs who would appear more likely to face financial closure rather than the healthy 6 former Conference sides Carlisle, Colchester, Crawley, Shrewsbury, Stevenage and Yeovil. Although our record against Yeovil is truly appalling (surely Yeovil and Reading must be our all time bogey teams) at least we will not have to face Swansea who, as can be seen below, have been responsible for our largest defeats in Tier 3 both home and away.

A return to Division 3 after only one season produced the first spell where Rovers could finally consolidate and 3 mid-table seasons followed. The first of these, 1984-5, provided much exciting football with 72 goals scored, 18 of these from midfielder Glyn Snodin. However, after the departure of Bremner the football, whilst still successful under Dave Cusack, became distinctly dour during the Over the page you’ll find a few other next two seasons. It was 1987-88 with statistics from our 14 tier 3 seasons. popularSTAND // ISSUE 59 // AUG-SEPT 2012 31


WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND // CONTINUED GOALSCORING RECORDS All-Time Leading Tier 3 Goalscorers 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

G. Snodin C. Douglas P. Heffernan M. McIndoe S. Briggs P. Green J. Price 8. L. Guy 9. R. Gilfillan J. Regan I. Snodin N. Woods 13. N. Redfearn 14. D. Harle S. Lister L. Sheffield 17. J. Coppinger 18. B. Deane 19. J. Buckley J. Dobbin 21. T. Ogden R. Walker G. Watson

37 33 26 18 17 17 17 16 15 15 15 15 14 13 13 13 12 12 11 11 10 10 10

Leading Scorers in a Tier 3 Season 18 14 13 13

G. Snodin N. Redfearn C. Douglas J. Regan

1984-85 1986-87 1985-86 1969-70

Tier 3 Hat-tricks

A. Brown N. Chamberlain A. Jeffrey T. Ogden I. Snodin

32

1984-85 1987-88 1966-67 1966-67 1982-83

ATTENDANCE RECORDS Largest Tier 3 Attendances Home Games 19,742 vs Rotherham United 17,380 vs Luton Town 16,671 vs Barnsley 15,001 vs Leeds United

Away Games

31,402 vs Leeds United 28,712 vs Sheffield Wed 24,829 vs Plymouth Argyle 24,117 vs Hull City

SEQUENCES Home Games

Wins Unbeaten w/o Win Defeats Draws

2007-08 2004-05 1958-59 2004-05

6 13 7 4 5

1981-82 1981-82 into 82-83 1987-88 1958-59 & 1982-83 1981-82 & 1982-83

3 11 21 18 3

2006-07 & 2007-08 2007-08 1958-59* 1966-67 On 3 occasions

5 10 15 8 4

1981-82, 2006-07 2007-08 1986-87 1958-59 On 5 occasions

Away Games Wins Unbeaten w/o Win Defeats Draws

1969-70 1969-70 1969-70 2007-08

*also 25 inc first 4 games of 1966-67

Total

Wins Unbeaten w/o Win Defeats Draws

Unbeaten Sequences (8 games or more)

P W D 1969-70 8 5 3 1981-82 into 83-84 9 2 7 2007-08 10 4 6

Sequences Without a Win (12 games or more)

L 0 0 0

P W D L 12 0 6 6 15 0 10 5 popularSTAND // ISSUE 59 // AUG-SEPT 2012 1982-83 1986-87


Scoring Sequences

Matches scoring 3 or more: Matches scoring 2 or more: Matches scoring 1 or more:

2 4 16

6 occasions most recent 1986-87 5 occasions most recent 2007-8 (twice) 1984-5 into 1985-6

Most Blanks* in a season: Fewest Blanks in a Season: Consecutive Blanks:

20 8 5

in 1982-3 & 1987-8; 19 in 1958-9 in 1984-5; 9 in 2007-8 in 1982-3

*Games in which Rovers fail to score

GOAL PREVENTION RECORDS

Most Cleansheets in a season: Fewest Cleansheets in a Season: Consecutive Cleansheets:

20 19 16 6 5

in 2007-08 in 2006-07 in 1985-86 and 2005-06 in 1966-67 and 1982-83 in 1981-82 and 2006-07

SCORE-LINE RECORDS Biggest Wins Home 6-1 7-5 Away 4-0

vs Exeter City 1982-83 vs Reading 1982-83 vs Brentford 2006-07 and vs Crewe Alexandra 2007-08

Biggest Defeats

Home 0-4 3-6 Away 0-6

vs Swansea City vs Wigan Athletic vs Swansea City

2007-08 (and 5 other seperate occasions) 1982-83 1986-87 and vs Q.P.R. 1986-87

Most Goals in a Game

12 7-5 vs Reading 1982-83 10 4-6 vs Plymouth 1958-59 and vs Mansfield Town 1966-67 (all three of the above were at home) Given all the above stats the following milestones and targets might be achievable during this season: • 150th Home win, 500th Home goal, and 800th goal Home or Away • Highest individual goalscorer in a season at level 3 (18 to beat) • First hat-trick at tier 3 since 1987-88 (N.Chamberlain) • If Chris Brown scores a league goal then he will join an elite group of 7 players who have scored league goals for Rovers at three different levels (Mark Albrighton, Greg Blundell, Jimmy Fletcher, Steve Foster Paul Green, Alick Jeffrey and Ron Walker)

BW

Caveat: The figures quoted in this article are not official. Dutch Uncle uses many sources including club handbooks, Rothmans/Sky annuals, and best of all the Official Rovers History by Bluff & Watson. In particular there are many instances of conflicting records of goalscorers, often involving possible own goals. For definitive data on Doncaster Rovers we refer any reader to Barry Watson.

popularSTAND // ISSUE 59 // AUG-SEPT 2012

33


Long serving fans’ team the R’sonists made travelled to Leeds in July to compete in the annual Worldnet Supporters’ tournament. It’s now fourteen years since the R’sonists formed for one last hurrah at the end of Rovers’ annus horribilis. Few would have predicted back in 1998 that they’d still be attending the tournament more than a decade later with Rovers having just ended a four year stint in the second tier. But in July they were there, yet again representing Doncaster in the annual IFA supporters’ football tournament; WorldNET. The competition is held over two days with a group stage on the Saturday leading to a knockout competition on the Sunday. In Group 5 with the R’sonists were Exeter, RC Lens and their opening opponents Wimbledon ‘A’. Donny fared well against the Dons, controlling the game throughout and securing a 1-0 win with a goal from

Rob White. RC Lens however proved a sterner test, and despite an equaliser from Harry Swain they went on to defeat Donny 2-1. So to the last game against Exeter with a win needed to secure second spot and place in the main competition. After a poor showing in the first half Donny needed a Louis Bailey goal-line clearance to remain on level terms before Andy Harriman headed in Glen Wilson’s corner for a 1-0 win. The victory also featured a cameo sub appearance from Paul Nelson, who at 64 became the oldest ever player in the tournament. Sadly the R’sonists would fall at the first hurdle the next day, beaten 2-0 by a strong Crystal Palace side, who would go on to defeat Donny’s other conquerors Lens in the tournament’s final. The R’sonists can take pride then that only the competition’s top two sides were able to defeat them all weekend. And they’ll no doubt be back next year for a 16th stab at glory. The R’sonists play year round and are always on the lookout for new players. Can you kick a football vaguely in the direction you intend to? If so get in touch with the R’sonists via their website; www.donnyrsonists.weebly.com

The R’sonists modelling their new popular STAND sponsored home kit at Worldnet 2012.

34

popularSTAND // ISSUE 59 // AUG-SEPT 2012


popular STAND 59  

Issue 59 of unofficial Doncaster Rovers fanzine Popular STAND. Editor: Glen Wilson. Release date: 25th August 2012

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