Tag Archives: Barnsley

Oakwell – Away Ground Review

A trip to Barnsley is like going back in time. Back to the halcyon days of the mid-1980s. A simpler time when whippets roamed the streets, flat caps adorned misshapen heads and ‘Town Called Malice’ was still number one – Obviously Rovers fans fit right in.

During my time as a Doncaster Rovers fan, I’ve visited Oakwell quite frequently over the years and it is time to make my opinions of the ground clear. Oh boy…

My biggest problem with Oakwell is the pathetic excuse for an away car park. Although there is plenty of staff around before the game when parking up, after the game leaving the car park is a chaotic nightmare with hundreds of cars all converging at the singular exit. It honestly takes longer to get out of that car park than it does to drive from the car park back to Doncaster. About a minute after leaving the car park, the Barnsley striker Sam Winnall pulled out in front of us. That’s right, during the time we’d been queuing, Sam Winnall had time to warm down, shower and get changed after the match. It’s just outrageous.

Oakwell itself is a nice ground, situated in the middle of Barnsley. It is one of those grounds that Rovers fans just love to go to. This explains why the atmosphere is always so electric there, even if we don’t bring big crowds we always produce an immense amount of noise there. There’s no doubting that it’s quite a nice looking ground, it’s just a shame that they can’t fill it like they used to.

On the subject of catering, I was really impressed for a change. The pies were presented to me in a cardboard box, which acted as a makeshift plate. It wasn’t something I’ve ever seen before and it helped limit some of the awkwardness that comes with eating a pie that simply comes with a foil tin around the bottom of it – makes the pastry at the bottom all soggy. Pie in a box is also an excellent Christmas present if anyone is into buying presents for me super early.

With Rovers playing as they are, it is freezing cold trips to Oakwell that define what it is to be a ‘supporter’. When your team has been uniformly awful for weeks on end and each game is more freezing than the last. When you are spending all your free time and money on a football team that never win or even look like they are bothered half the time, it is the camaraderie of away days that somehow manages to make life as a football fan almost bearable.

Barnsley is hardly a holiday but it is a familiar and welcome presence on the football calendar. Will I moan about ticket prices? Yes. Will I bitterly bang on about the shit parking to all who will listen? Yes. Will I be there next season and the season after. Yes and yes.
All Rovers aren’t we?

Doncaster Rovers vs Barnsley – Match Report

A win! An actual win! Rob Johnson takes a look at the main talking points of the Barnsley game.

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• Wow… Just wow. It is not hyperbole to suggest that Richard Chaplow’s stunning 90th minute winner against Barnsley could be a season defining moment. Rovers have desperately needed that kind of release and as that goal hit the back of the net, the relief was almost tangible.

• It is hard not to be happy for Chaplow. His assist for Keshi Anderson’s first goal was his first meaningful contribution of the season. He didn’t have to wait long for his second.

• Anderson impressed once again and was a handful throughout. With Nathan Tyson close to fitness we have the makings of genuinely threatening strike force all of a sudden. Two in two for the Crystal Palace youngster now, hopefully his form will continue.

• Rob Jones will be very pleased with his days work. Persevering with Chaplow and Wellens despite their recent poor from was a risk that absolutely paid off and every substitution was spot on. A lot of people were puzzled by the decision to bring Copps off for Middleton while Forrester remained on the bench but the youngster repaid Jones’ faith with a killer pass to pick out Chaplow for the winner.

• Jones also identified that Horsfield had become a complete liability at right back. Kadeem Harris ripped Horsfield apart throughout, and the Manchester City loanee was probably relieved to come off. One negative from an otherwise hugely successful afternoon was the fact that the right back problem seemingly still hasn’t been resolved. It is predictable that a midfielder playing out of position who has never started a senior game before Tuesday is probably not going to be the answer.

• It was an up and down day for the back five. Butler was once again very solid and McCullough did okay considering it was his first game back from injury. Evina did well and is becoming a bit of a Cedric of all trades, once again filling in at right back after Horsfield came off. Stuckmann was his usual reliable self. More on Horsfield below. The concern is that for the second game running Rovers conceded from a corner. Set pieces are cheap goals to concede and this must not become a trend.

• They didn’t have much to shout about but how flat were the Barnsley support? To bring a crowd like that and be pretty much silent throughout seems odd. Barnsley were poor though and the quality of the goal reflected Rovers eventual superiority.

Winners

Richard Chaplow – Finally a glimpse of what has kept Chaplow in the upper echelons of the football league for his whole career.  He still gave the ball away too often but he seemed fitter and more positive and his assist for the first goal was a welcome confidence booster. Chaplow took that confidence into his goal and it was a brilliant and composed finish.

The Rovers fans – After all the shit we have been through this season we deserved that. One of the most cathartic victories in recent memory.

Harry Middleton – Jones left a few fans scratching their grotesque heads when Middleton came on but his sumptuous assist was glorious vindication. It is this kind of match winning quality that has been missing from previous products of the youth system such as Alex Peterson and Liam Wakefield. It was a ball that Middleton’s mentor Richie Wellens would have been proud of.

Losers

Harry Forrester and Curtis Main – Forrester was poor before his early season injury and the fact he didn’t even make it on the pitch shows how far his stock has dropped since the start of the season. Forrester was most people’s pick to go to a bigger club in January but that seems like a distant memory at the moment. As for Main with Anderson scoring his second Rovers goal, Williams an automatic starter and Tyson on the verge of coming back he is miles away from the first team at the moment. It is hard to see a future at Rovers for the talented youngster at present.

James Horsfield – I hope that Horsfield proves me wrong but on this evidence he is woefully out of his depth. It was a bit of a strange signing in the first place. Let’s just hope we don’t see McCullough make an unwelcome return to the right back spot.

The referee – Lee Mason booked Chaplow for over celebrating after his goal because he ran to celebrate with his kids. When will this farcical law be rescinded. It was one of the moments that football should be all about.

Reece Wabara – ‘I’m a Barnsley player now – and I want to win’ said Wabara on the eve of the game. Pipe down Reece.

 

Rovers VS Barnsley

With Doncaster Rovers set to play against local rivals Barnsley this Safturday, the DRSG’s very own Rob Johnson returns to preview the game:

I hate to say it but I have Barnsley in my blood. Not because I once accidentally shared a needle with John Hendrie in the bins behind Asda, but because my Dad and all his family are Barnsley born and bred. Wombwell to be precise.

As a result of this, family occasions are often a tense affair as Rovers, Wednesday and Blades are represented around the table amidst the red wall of Barnsley fans. It is mostly friendly but there is always an air of menace whenever the two teams meet and passive aggressive texts and facebook messages are fired across from all sides…

Rovers and Barnsley is more of a derby than either side like to let on. We both like to flatter ourselves that Wednesday or Leeds is the more important fixture when the truth is neither of those clubs care less about us. This is because like us, Barnsley have spent nearly the entirety of their existence being absolutely dogshit. Barnsley’s hopes of being a dominating force in English football sank with the Titanic in 1912 following their solitary FA cup victory and Rovers have been relegated many more times than they have won trophies. This makes us and Barnsley unlikely bedfellows. In a hotbed of football surrounded by traditionally bigger and more successful clubs Rovers and Barnsley (and Rotherham for that matter) should take solace in the fact that there are others like us. Instead we utterly despise each other and take every opportunity to pour scorn on one another.

Looking at Barnsley is like holding a mirror up to our own club and having to face the unglamorous, mostly terrible football as well as the pretty much standard status as a lower league club for both sides, probably forever. If Leeds are the Dorian Gray of Yorkshire football, Rovers and Barnsley are the grotesque portrait rotting in Dean Windass‘ shed.

With this in mind Barnsley are probably the last team Rovers will want to face right now. Firmly in the relegation zone with only one win to our name is not quite a crisis but a heavy home defeat to our South Yorkshire rivals would probably push Rovers over the edge. Barnsley have been up and down so far this season but resounding recent victories over Swindon and Gillingham do not bode well for Rovers and with Jones, Mackenzie and McCullough still missing it would appear Rovers are there for the taking.

Lining up for Barnsley of course will be Reece Wabara. A man who once sought me out on Twitter and blocked me for describing him as woeful in a match report for Popular Stand. I was actually delighted to see Wabara go but in light of Rovers bold move to do away with right backs seemingly forever it shames me to say I wish he had stayed. Hopefully he will have one his nightmares on Saturday and we might get something.

Match Prediction 1-1

It is indicative of Rovers decline that we should probably be playing for a draw against Barnsley on Saturday. With three centre backs missing and our current form being awful it will take a battling performance to secure a point. I think if things finally go our way we are capable of it. Anderson to score.

The Big DRFC Preseason Review!

The squads are forming, the Pre-season games are passing and with it the season is on its way. No more Saturday afternoons watching Tennis out of pure desperation for Sport. Its almost here!

We at the DRSG are delighted to bring you a guest from each club from the 23 teams in League 1 this year and find out their opinions on the season ahead.

Barnsley – Last Season 11th

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By Samual Fort

Sum up your team in six words ?Eagle heights but no swan song.

Where do you think your team will finish this season?
We’re hoping for a
 swift return to the Championship but after the previous attempt it has left a bitter taste in our mouths. Hopefully we dont get off to a rough start to the season and go upwards and onwards to a great start this year

Who do you think will walk away with the league 1 crown?
If I could place a bet the Bantams from Bradford City could be there or there abouts in the playoffs, with the Seagulls flying round Fleetwood town, the cod army could be an outside chance with a surprising end to the last seasons playoff challenge. but my bet would be the Robins of Swindon Town.

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?
After injury Connor
Hourihane could be one of the key players of the League One with nimble footwork he could turn on a stone, with a flash of his  eye could hit a great strike in to the back of the net.

Which game are you looking forward to most?
Not to miss an away day at Sheffield United the rivalry between the South Yorkshire teams has always got rival fans making snidcomments to each other, but the loser will have a bitter pill to swallow.

 

Blackpool – Last Season 24th (Championship)

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By Royston Butters

Sum up your team in six words?
Club in turmoil, fans standing together

Where do you think you will finish this season?
We’d be very fortunate to finish outside of the relegation zone, and I genuinely mean that. Our supporters, I feel, have completely given up any hope of our club whilst still in the ownership mess we are in. We’ve seen so many clubs before us do the embarrassing fall from grace but having shed 23 players at the end of last season we are massively underprepared with a total lack of hope for the season. Our only solace is if the quality is worse than we expect in this league.

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
I think Bradford have done well recruiting this summer and have a really solid and experienced manager in Parkinson. They finished fairly highly up last season and I think they’ll be surprise contenders for the title. Expect Millwall to make a recovery and contend – they seemed better than their relegation last season when I saw them play.

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
You’ve done plenty of transfer activity which could be for the better or worse… I think you’re expecting to be up the top half of the table, and in terms of the size of your club (based on your recent Championship experience) you should expect to be making playoffs. Then again, I can safely say as a Blackpool fan – club size means nothing; look at our Premiership accolade!!

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?
Tough question – we have nine senior players on the books at the moment and I can’t imagine many of them are very motivated by our current set up. Our one shining light last season was top scorer Andrea Orlandi and he is still under contract, a nifty midfielder with bags of flare.

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
It absolutely has to be our home match on Boxing Day against Oldham – they are somewhat of a local rival and given it has been a long while since we played them and on boxing day we’re expecting a cracker of a match. The only downside is a lot of supporters boycotting home games, most supporters will be more excited about supporting the team at away fixtures only – for understandable reasons.

There’s been more discussion about off the pitch than off it this pre-season. What’s the fans plans for this season?
We’ve already had some incredibly creative forms of protest against the Oyston family pre season and it sounds strange to say, but we tend to find ourselves bolstered as a support with a sense of unity against our board. As much as it is a very difficult time to be a Seasider, there is great inspiration to be found in the support we’ve had in the media and from other clubs. We’ve had a fan-produced shirt released for sale, which stops money going in to the club yet allows fans to nail their colours to the mast – we’re very much about making it clear we aren’t abandoning our support for the team we love. There will continue to be protests, we’ve had pre season pitch invasions and we will continue to stand united in our goal to take over the club. In no walk of life should someone abuse their position of power like the Oystons are and to accuse one of our own supporters (and customers) of harassment and involving the authorities over a difference of opinion is pathetic and will not be tolerated. 

Bradford – Last Season 7th

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By Juan Luis

 

Sum up your team in six words?
Just give us Chelsea any day!

Where do you think you will finish this season?
There’s a real sense of confidence among many fans in the run up to the new season. The focus on building up an already strong squad with proven, experienced players should at least guarantee a genuine promotion push, but I’m not sure we’ll have quite enough for automatic promotion. Therefore I reckon we’ll finish 4th or 5th.

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
It certainly looks to be a particularly difficult title to win this year, with clubs such as Wigan and Millwall joining the mix. Despite their play-off heartache last season, I believe Sheffield United will produce the strongest challenge, but Barnsley and Doncaster should also threaten. I wouldn’t rule out newly-promoted Bury either, given their recent acquisition of the training grounds at Carrington.

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
Doncaster looked to be on for a stab at promotion last season but faded away at a crucial time. This season there should be more stability, and I reckon 2nd or 3rd are realistic targets for a club with ample experience of the Championship.

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?Although many of the club’s new signings will play an integral part in the push for promotion, one player who will be key above all should be Filipe Morais. The midfielder and former Chelsea youngster showed plenty of flair and potential last season, particularly shown by his performance against his old club at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup.

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
A trip to Wigan should be interesting. The last time the Bantams played at the DW Stadium, in the infamous Capital One Cup run of 2012/13, we were in League 2 while Wigan were in the Premier League. How times have changed…

You’ve become more famous for your cup runs the last few years than your League success. Would you like another one this year or would you like some heavy concentration on the League?
Many fans will no doubt be happy if we concentrate more on our League 1 campaign, given that fatigue seemed to be an issue towards the end of last season from the number of matches played. I would mostly agree, although it should be remembered that the cup run in 2013 did not stop us from achieving promotion in the same season.

 

& By  Andrew Hewitt

Sum up your team in six words?
Some good strengths, some poor weaknesses
Where do you think you will finish this season?
Currently I think we slightly weaker than last season. Losing Andrew Davies is a big blow. He was arguably the best centre back in League One.
I would say at present mid table – we need some  more reinforcements, particularly another goalkeeper and centre back. Currently I don’t think we have a proper centre back, to not provide cover but also compete for a place in the first XI.
At the minute replacements our ones who can fill in for a couple of games.
A lot will depend on our home form and if we can make the opposition freeze in front of large crowds.
Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
 Nobody. I did call Bristol City last season but don’t think the league is as strong as last year. You would have to say Sheff Utd will be hovering around the play-offs, if not higher. Millwall and Wigan both came down but Millwall were appalling when we played them last season. Both got inexperienced managers and Wigan had a big squad overhaul.
Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
If they can get new signings bedded in I expect them to improve on last season. Play-offs are a realistic goal.
Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?
If can stay fit James Hanson. He started last season great but got injured and then he played a position which was more about doing a job for the team.
Looks like he’s going to be the focal point, so providing we play to his strengths he should have a good season. Needs to improve his goal tally though.
Looking forward to seeing what Josh Morris, signed from Blackburn, is like. Supposedly likes to attack.
Which game are you looking forward to the most?
Shrewsbury at home – first home game of the season. Then there’s the usual big games such as Blades at home.
You’ve become more famous for your cup runs the last few years than your League success. Would you like another one this year or would you like some heavy concentration on the League?
Don’t forget we managed promotion the same season we reached the Capital One Cup final. However, last season’s FA Cup run did detract from our league form but at this level you’re never going to turn down the opportunity to experience what we did last season.
A lot depends where we’re at in the league at the turn of the year.

 We have signed Gary MacKenzie from Blackpool who was on loan at the Valley last season, are you sorry to see him not sign permanently?
I’m not losing any sleep over it. He was a good player and strong but wasn’t good enough to dislodge first choice centre backs.
The fact that we were never in for him this summer probably says a lot. At the minute he would be a good addition, but I’m sure we can get someone in who is just as good, if not better.

Burton – Last Season 1st (League 2)

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By Sharon Taylor
Sum up your team in six words?
Underrated, creative, honest, respected, grafters, backbone.
Where do you think you will finish this season? 
I would be happy with 19th , but fans generally are hoping for mid table. I am by nature more of a realistic pessimist than most.

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
I’m afraid it has to be Wigan all things considered although it would do them good to have at least a couple of seasons down in League 1 in my opinion.

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
I hope you get into the play offs but I believe you might fall just short. I would plump for 8th. Certainly a better season than last year for you. My Donnie friend thinks automatic promotion and wants a pint on a bet that DRFC will finish higher than us. Must admit that I agree with him!

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?
We don’t tend to have ‘out and out’ star men, but I would go for the captain, midfielder John Mousinho and the defender Phil Edwards. We have a lot of new players so who knows….

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
The first (let’s get it out of the way) and the last, which happens to be against Doncaster. Looking at the League I have already been to 17 of the clubs with Burton so the new ones, along with their pre match hostelries will be the most interesting ones. Millwall will be interesting….

You romped home with the League 2 title. Do you think the bulk of your players will make the step up this year?
I don’t think that we romped home, it certainly didn’t feel like it at the time!

The Burton team has always been better than the sum of its parts – that has been our strength and so it will depend on how the new squad melds. We are still in the transitionary stage of a new Manager. JFH is still putting together his team and style of play, so it is even more difficult a question to answer than if we had only just changed leagues.
The step up is far bigger than from Non League where actually there is not a great deal of difference in the standard of football played, the size of clubs and the money involved between the bottom of one and the top of the other so this season will be interesting to say the least.

 

 

Bury – Last Season 3rd (League 2)

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By Joshua Lee

Sum up your team in six words?
Determined, ambitious, young and experienced, Greatest

Where do you think you will finish this season?
I think we will finish either in or just outside the playoffs. I’m thinking 6/7th

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
Barnsley

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
Top half definitely. I’m going to say 9th

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?As the squad currently is I believe our captain Nathan Cameron. He is a rock in defence and we will need his leadership this season.

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
Dale away

Leon Clarke and Tom Pope already signed. Surely if you don’t score 100+ goals now it’ll be deemed a massive failure?
I wouldn’t say 100+ I would say we need to have a high scoring season but with our other Clarke in CB we need him to pull his finger out and if the strikers aren’t scoring many we need our defence on form to prevent us conceding.

 

Chesterfield – Last Season 6th

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By Ben Littlewood

Sum up your team in six words?
Young, able, organised, efficient, versatile and exciting.

Where do you think you will finish this season?
In my opinion, the club should be finishing in or around tenth position with the calibre of player currently at the Proact Stadium. Finishing in the top half of the league table is a reasonable aim, especially after last season’s fantastic campaign although this Summer appears to be a time of change at the football club

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
Considering the battle for the League One title, my first selection would have to be Sheffield United. The appointment of Nigel Adkins represents a change in direction for the Blades and along with one or two first-class acquisitions, they can definitely challenge for the League One title.

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
A reasonable aim for Doncaster Rovers during the next campaign would be to try and obtain a play-off spot. Without doubt, the division is extremely competitive this year with the likes of Millwall and Wigan Athletic coming down from the Championship, which is why I’m inclined to think that Paul Dickov’s men will just fall short of a play-off spot in the end.

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?
Sam Morsy will be the most important player over the course of next season, if he doesn’t leave the club before the end of the Summer transfer window. Strong in the tackle, comfortable with the ball at his feet and extremely accurate in his passing. He is a complete player and shoulders the responsibility of wearing the captain’s armband with absolute ease.

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
Personally, I’m eagerly anticipating the trip when the Spireites take on Wigan Athletic in January as I’ve never visited the DW Stadium in the past. Also, my view is similar when considering Millwall as I’ve never been to the Den and exploring unknown territory is something that I find extremely interesting.

Dean Saunders has taken the reigns, are you ready for a season of excruciatingly painful to watch but effective football?
Now Dean Saunders has taken over as manager of the football club, I’m curious to see how the team is altered to suit his own style of play. During Paul Cook’s reign, the type of football on show was a pleasure to watch but, I’m more than prepared for some ‘pragmatic’ football during the next campaign.

 

 

Colchester United – Last Season 19th

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By Tyler Smith

Sum up your team in six words?
Hearty, Belief, Gutsy, Never say die.

Where do you think you will finish this season?
This season i would expect us to be in the bottom half of the league or mid-table. I don’t believe that we will be involved in the relegation battle this year as we have been for the previous 3 years as I believe that overall we will have a more competitive squad with the correct balance in Youth and Experience and the management looking to bring in at least 3 experienced players.

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
Personally i believe that this year is going to be one of the tightest league’s in years with teams barely being able to be split apart. There are many teams that have the potential, but you never know how the season will pan out. If i had to choose a team, it would be Wigan. I feel like they will have the bouncebackability as they already have a good squad with more additions expected.

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
I would expect Doncaster to have a positive year with them being in the top half of the table with the potential to be a playoff side. If some more good signings were to be made then there would be the chance that they could place even higher, but a solid season will be for Doncaster.

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?
At this moment in time it is difficult as a Colchester fan to see who will be our star man. With little signings so far and numerous players released, our squad is yet to take its full shape. The midfield area could be crucial with George Moncur and Alex Gilbey having to play crucial roles if we are wanting any success. Chris Porter could also be crucial to the season, as he not only offers experience to our highly youthful squad, but a presence up front. If Porter gets on a run on goals then i would not expect it to end. Gavin Massey is also pivotal to the team. As a winger, he offers the natural ability to set up his team mates, along with a good source of goals. But what many people underestimate is his work on the defensive end. During our fight for survival at the end of last season, Massey’s tracking of runners and tireless effort was exceptional. He may be one to look out for if he gets a good run of form!

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
I think i can speak on behalf  every Colchester United fan when i say that everyone’s eyes are on the return of the Essex Derby. Colchester vs Southend. Having not had a local derby for many many years, it is nice to have that excitement back which will ultimately cause a buzz around the town and a buzz on match-days as well. The away game will also be one of our best away followings, which should cause for quite an atmosphere.

We loved your set up when we visited last year. What can we expect as part of prematch build up for 2015?
I would expect much of the same as a fan coming to the Weston Homes Community Stadium. The matchday feel is something that the club prides itself on, with the intention to provide the best service and experience, for our own fans and the opposition. With bands playing, kids clubs, football activities and other services being offered, i believe our build up could be one of the best around. The club has recently won ‘Family Club of the year’ so if you are intending to come down, bring the family!! The good quality service that our club provides will certainly make the longish journey worth it.

 

Coventry – Last Season 17th

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By Graham Aylott

Sum up your team in six words?
Complicated, Unpredictable, Under achieving, Sleeping Giant!!

Where do you think you will finish this season?
Top Half pushing play offs

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?Sheffield United should but never do, Wigan should be up there but have a feeling a surprise team may come through (Hopefully Coventry or if not Doncaster!!)

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?

Probably same as us pushing for play offs

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?Not sure yet as we have not signed many yet, Jim ‘o’ Brien is good and Reda Johnson if fit is a Talisman for us.

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
Hard to say, Blackpool away should be good as should Southend for the weekend! Looking forward to going to Wigan as well.

Your last few seasons have been shadowed by off the field antics, now you’re back at the Ricoh, do you think you can stabilise and push for promotion?
I believe we have the right manager now in Mowbray and hope our owners have finally realised that with a bit of investment on the squad we could quite easily push for promotion back to the Championship. We have been so bad for so long though, Mowbray may have his work cut out changing people’s attitudes as we seem to have a losing mentality at the club.

 

Crewe – Last Season 20th

Crewe_Alexandra.svgBy Matt Withers

Sum up your team in six words?
Where high principles meet low ambition…

Where do you think you will finish this season?
After the last couple of years – particularly the most recent, which led some social media wags to barely joke we’d escaped relegation on the last day for the 57th consecutive season – most Crewe fans aren’t looking forward with huge anticipation. We survived last season due to others’ results conspiring to save us as we crumbled at home on the final day and, as it stands, we go into this season with a weaker squad. All the bookmakers have us as favourites to finish rock-bottom, though, so I’ll try to be as positive as possible and say 20th.

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
I don’t think anybody will walk away with it – I expect it to be more competitive than last season at the very top of the table and nobody will dominate as Bristol City came to. There’s probably four or five teams likely to be in it – Sheffield United, Wigan, Peterborough, Millwall, probably Bradford. On balance, I’ll go for Sheffield United on the basis that Nigel Adkins seems a good fit for them, and the law of averages says they have to get it right eventually.

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
With the outsider’s eye – and I have to admit to not keeping too close an eye on your transfer comings and goings over the summer – a bit better than last season. Let’s say ninth.

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?Goalkeeper Ben Garratt, and not just because I anticipate him having an awful lot to do. His injury last season, which ruled him out from February, was a massive blow and left a hole much-travelled Paul Rachubka failed to fill. Curiously, of all the youngsters to have dropped off the end of Crewe’s much vaunted “conveyor belt of talent”, we’ve never produced our own goalkeeper to have really made it, and all the signs are the 21-year-old will be the first. He’s not ready to step up quite yet, but I suspect he will, and scouts from Aston Villa and Spurs have already been to take a look at him. If he’s fit and stays, he could well be the difference.

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
I’ll tell you which I’m not first – the cruel fixture computer spitting out a derby with Port Vale at home on the very first day of the season. Lose that one and the moroseness will set in immediately, most vividly in the spectacle of fans ringing Radio Stoke phone-ins to demand the sacking of the manager, as if he’s the problem. That aside, and depending on our start, we should take a decent contingent down to Burton, 45 miles south-east, for our first League visit. As an Alex fan exiled in London, it’s slim pickings down here for an away game. Gillingham can always be counted on as the grimmest away trip of the season, in their now 12-year-old “temporary away stand”.

Like Dario Gradi we had a manager in SOD who wanted to play football the right way. Do you think that is the most effective way out of this league?
Well, our experience would suggest not… truth is, there’s no rhyme or reason to whether playing style affects the ability to escape. In the past few years some teams have bored their way up while others have done it with a bit more flair. The most important things are – not necessarily in this order – a decent-sized squad of players with experience at this level or, preferably, above; a solid defence; pace. That last one is vital – the first thing that seems to shock teams coming out of League Two is the visible difference in terms of pace at this level.

 

Fleetwood – Last Season 10th

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By George Ronion

Sum up your team in six words?
Our bubble may have finally burst.

Where do you think you will finish this season?

We surprised most last year with our character on the pitch and had a great start to the campaign. However we seem to have lost a lot of those characters and we may well end up having a real fight this year. The true football fan in me still believes we may have a chance of the playoffs but as I look around there are plenty of teams strengthening far more than we have. Luckily with a few teams in this League in dire straits we may just be able to stave off a relegation fight.

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
One from Wigan, Sheffield United and if I was to have an outsider I think Bury will have a good year. They seem to have invested wisely and have two strikers capable of banging in 20 goals. I’ve always been a fan of Peter Clarke as well.

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
I think you’ll be comfortably playoffs. Losing Bristol City, MK Dons and Preston is good for this division as they normally mooch about the top end of the division and the teams coming down could easily struggle to adapt, especially Blackpool who I think may drop again. 

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?
We had the peculiar transfer activity in releasing David Ball at the end of the season only to bring him back in last week. He was pivotal in our promotion from League 2 but didn’t find that form at this level. Bobby Grant from Blackpool looks a promising signing at this level as well.

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
Has to be Blackpool. Naturally as a football fan I hate to see whats occurring at Bloomfield Road at present but for those two games I’d happily enjoy watching us deliver an embarrassing defeat onto their lads.

You took equal blame for the world renowned ‘most boring game of all time’ last year. Shall we just go on a lash up round Donny this year and ditch the footy?
I thought the footage was kind. It was easily one of the most drab games I’ve ever witnessed. I’ve followed your twitter ever since and am envious of what Doncaster Rovers deliver in terms of output. More clubs should be using that as the benchmark.
The Doncaster pub we went into last year was woeful so probably not. I don’t think I’ll be making the trip this year!

 

Gillingham – Last Season 12th

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By Daniel Storey

Sum up your team in six words?
Local, promising, frustrating, passionate, dark-horses.

 Where do you think you will finish this season?
If we can get the right signings in over the summer we can be a real force next season in a much weaker division.

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
Tough one to call next season. Now that the three big hitters in Bristol City, MK franchise and Preston have gone up, you would say it’s Sheffield United who really should be winning the division with their budget and support but it doesn’t always work out that way does it. Swindon Town will probably be up there again(sigh), but in all honesty it’s a very open division next season.

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
Hard to call this one. Last year I thought you would have done a lot better than you did considering you were relegated from the Championship the previous season, but then again you’re a club in similar statue and resources to us and will always be punching above your weight in the Championship. I predict you will be in and around mid table.


Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?
Cody McDonald is still the main goal scoring threat but we do rely on his goals a bit too much. If we can a decent striker partner in over the summer it will ease the burden on Cody. Centre Half John Egan was a rock in defence last season and if he has another season like last then we won’t keep hold of him for much longer.

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
Millwall home and away. We haven’t played this lot for a few years now and they’re always lively affairs. Plus we’re now in a division stacked full to the brim of northern teams next season(19 to be precise!) so the eight games against the four teams based down South will be something to cherish!

How much heartache do you feel every time you see an image of Dickov?
Well if Sky Sports could take a break from showing it during their playoff coverage we might be able to forget it! Joking aside yeah it isn’t easy to watch back but we gained promotion the following season and went on to have five glorious seasons in the second tier so things didn’t turn out too bad for us did they really.

 

Millwall – Last Season 22nd (Championship)

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By Ezra Carr 


Where do you think you will finish this season?
Going into the season myself and most Millwall fans will be happy just steadying the ship we lost a lot of players this season and not been to busy on bringing faces in. However saying that I don’t see why the squad we have shouldn’t push for the play offs championship players shouldn’t struggle at league 1 level so a respectable 5th.

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
Wigan or Sheff Utd for me both have some quality players in their ranks. If pushed i would go for Sheff utd the disappointment of the play offs added to the players they have added I really can’t see them not going up.

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
I would like to see Doncaster do well for Chaplow but I honestly don’t think you have enough depth to your squad. I’m going to say a build on last season and maybe about 10th

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season? Has to be Morrison the 2 seasons he spent with us before he was absolutely outstanding. Hopefully he can find that form once more and fire us up the league table

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
On a personal note I have a lot of family up in Southend so would love to get one over on them. More so after the humiliation of the last time we played them in the FA cup (we lost 4-1)we have a lot to prove

 

 

Oldham – Last Season 15th

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By Mark Winterbottom

Sum up your team in six words?
Yet another year in League One

Where do you think you will finish this season?
It’s always difficult to tell at this stage, particularly with another new manager who has no experience.  We have managed to hold on to some of our better players though so far which is more than we have done in recent seasons. I can see it being a difficult campaign but I think we should have enough to stay up. I would guess at 17th.

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
I think it is difficult to look past Wigan. Any team dropping into League One whilst still receiving parachute payments should walk away with the league. Wolves proved that a couple of years back.

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
I thought you looked very poor when we played you at your place last year but you seemed much better by the time you came to Boundary Park in both the league and cup. I’m not sure you are strong enough for promotion but I would expect you to challenge for the play-offs.

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?Many expect to see Liam Kelly depart before August but if we can keep him that would be a huge bonus. He struggled with injuries after Christmas this time but looked to have huge potential.
If he goes, I would like to think that Lee Croft can recreate the form he had before he left us 2 years ago. He seems to have come back much leaner and he was our player of the season when he left.

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
It’s got to be Burton away for me as it will be my only new ground this season.

Paul Dickov – your thoughts?
Paul will always have a place in my heart after our cup run when we beat Forest and Liverpool.
I thought he had huge potential during his early days with us but he lacked a plan B and whilst we were performing so well in that cup run he couldn’t motivate the players in the league. I was sorry to see him go but it was the right decision.
I am surprised,  but pleased, that you have stuck with him after a couple of disappointing campaigns.

 

Peterborough United – Last Season 9th

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By Dale Peet

Where do you think you will finish this season?
I think this year will be a tough season for everyone. I’d like to think we could win the league but that’s a bit ambitious so I’m going to say anywhere in the play off region I’d be happy with.

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
Well this year there is a lot of good competition with the likes of Millwall, Sheffield United, Posh and Swindon but overall the winners for me has to be Wigan Athletic. They have a brilliant squad, have not lost many players and brought in a few too.

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
After last season it could be anywhere but I think just the same as most of this League you have a shot at doing well and I’d tip them you to be up in the play offs probably 5th or 6th.

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?
We have retained a lot of our good players from last season and hope we’ve had more coming in but I think in his role as captain this year and his season last year I’m going to say Michael Bostwick. He is a fantastic player with alot of attributes and can play the ball about. 

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
I’m looking forward to going to Chesterfield Away mainly because it’s a nice small Stadium which suits them and can generate a lot of noise that stays within the Ground and doesn’t wander off like most Stadiums I’ve been to. With it being a relatively new Stadium it’s a nice place to visit.

You’ve had a fantastic record for finding gems and making big profits on them. Who’s in the pipeline this year?
Well we’ve brought a few players in as well but just from the pre-season friendlies I’m going to say the young lad called Joe Gormley from Cliftonville. He has some fantastic skills, pace and knows exactly where the net is and could be a fantastic buy for our Boys in Blue. 

 

Port Vale – Last Season 18th

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By Wilson Drongo

Where do you think you will finish this season?
We had a disastrous time at the start of last season and picked it up as the season went on. On paper our first few games certainly look winnable, I’d expect victories from Crewe and Gillingham. We then have a home game against you which I see as our first proper test of the season.

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
I’ve backed Doncaster for promotion. Think the players you’ve brought in have been excellent. I don’t understand Swindons rationale in releasing Williams but thats your gain. Chaplow is surely too good for this level and keeping Wellens will only assist your credentials further.

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
Nothing to add on what I’ve put above. The loan market could impact especially with the Premier League squad ruling.

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?
Uche Ikpeazu was a beast for Crewe against us last year so I’m really happy to see him lining up for us next year. He’s built like an Ox and unfortunately its the effective way in this division. He’s not the prettiest forward but he’ll win us games.

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
We got the double done over us by Crewe last year, a real low point for the club as we normally do much better over our smaller neighbours. Luckily with Ikpeazu on the other side this year we should be able to beat them in the ugly way they beat us last time around.

Your away end is a disgrace. Isn’t it about time you sorted that score board out?
Having never been in our away end I’d never know, however I wont hear a bad thing about the Wembley of the North. I’d much rather be playing in a run down old style ground than an identikit stadium with the atmosphere problems it brings with it.

 

Rochdale – Last Season 8th

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By Greg Ingham

Sum up your team in six words?
Up the Dale, down the ale!

Where do you think you will finish this season?  
I think 13th, I can’t see us topping last season which was the highest league position in the history of the club, but mid table I would settle for. Above Bury or Oldham would be a bonus.

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
Millwall or Sheff Utd

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
11th

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?
Ian Henderson. Last season only 5 or 6 players from all 3 football league divisions scored more than he did.

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
Wigan away, I’ve been to 50+ football stadiums with The Dale, but Wigan away is another to tick off the box and quite local. Bramall Lane is always a great away day too.

We have played more matches against you than any other side in the Football League, is that the most depressing stat you’ve ever heard?
The most depressing stat is that we’ve never won a trophy in over 107 years, so if any team deserves it anytime soon, it’s Rochdale. Keith Hill deserves to lift a trophy because of all the hard work him and the club have put in discovering such talented players recently such as Grant Holt, Will Buckley, Rickie Lambert, Craig Dawson, Le Fondre, Glenn Murray and more.

Scunthorpe United – Last Season 16th

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By Mark Johnson

Sum up your team in six words?
A quality team ready for promotion.

Where do you think you will finish this season?
With our quality preseason additions in defence, midfield and up top, I like most Iron supporters are expecting a top 6 finish this season.

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
I expect Wigan to take the League 1 title. Although as other “big clubs” have proven, its not an easy league to get out of, just look at Sheffield United. 

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
I think Rovers will finish just outside the Play Offs at 8th.

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?
I think our star man this season will be Hakeeb Adelakun, a young winger who can turn the opposition inside out & unleash powerful goals. He could play at the top leave if he keeps learning and stays grounded.

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
I’m looking forward to our game at the Keepmoat. I can walk there in a few minutes and its usually a good Derby atmosphere. Also it’s about time we beat Rovers away! 

You’ve had an abysmal record against us for the last few years. Another 6 points coming our way?
We’ve sorted our defence,  strengthened our midfield & forwards preseason with quality players. So we should give you a good game. I think we’ll take 4 or possibly 6 points from Rovers this season for a change.

 

 Sheffield United – Last Season 5th

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By John Revill

Sum up your team in six words?
Big club but overly confident underachievers.

Where do you think you will finish this season?
I think this could finally be our season. We all know if we make the playoffs then its a foregone that we’ll be in League 1 so it has to be automatic promotion. On that basis I’m going for 2nd.

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
Must be Wigan. With a budget that will eclipse the rest of the division I expect them to steamroll this year. The runners up is the real title this year.

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
6th, you’ve brought in enough quality to be chasing the playoffs but looking at your squad you could do with a couple of defenders to sure things up.

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?
James Wallace if he can stay fit. Unfortunately his career has been blighted with them so far and he’s never managed to get a decent season as a result. Billy Sharp returning is also a huge coup for him and Adkins should be able to get the best out of him. Finally we might see Billy scoring goals for us.

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
Rovers at home, it goes without saying. Last seasons was a really good advertisement for this division and you were unlucky not to take anything from the game.

To the outside eye Nigel Clough did a decent enough job. Do you think Adkins will be the man to finally lead you out of this division?
Clough treated the squad like kids ( or so it seemed ) and appeared to have favourites. Adkins is like a breath of fresh air. I really hope so is the answer!

 

Shrewsbury – Last Season 2nd (League 2)

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By Chika Red

Sum up your team in six words?
Happy with adapting for this season

Where do you think you will finish this season?
I honestly don’t know. This League seems to consist of a few who spend a bit of money and a shed load who pick up frees making any of those contenders for relegation depending on how good the manager getting the frees is. I’d like us to try and aim for the top end of that pack. I don’t think we’ll touch the playoffs but I don’t think we’ll flirt with relegation either.

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
Sheffield United should literally walk away with it. Good manager and good signings so its really theirs to lose. Being serial under performers may cost them though and if they don’t achieve it through the automatics then they might as well write off the playoffs before they’ve started.

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
I actually think you’ll be up there. Williams seems a class signing even at his age and he clearly has goals in him. Looking at your squad in preparation for this piece shows you have good strength in depth as well which not many teams in this League can boast.

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?
If we manage to keep hold of him then it will be Connor Goldson. At 22 years old he’s already commanding and as a result has attracted interest from other clubs, the last rumours being Bradford City. He’s certainly capable of making the step to the next level so I’ll be disappointed if he moves to another side in this League.

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
In terms of local rivals we’ve got Walsall. It’d be fantastic to do the double over them this year. There’s a few new grounds I’ve never been to this year including the Keepmoat so I’ll be definitely be making the trip to Doncaster this time around.

For most Rovers fans this will be a new ground to visit, what’s the best piece of advise you can give for a visit to The New Meadow?
The away end normally generates a bit of noise if your bunched together. I’d also recommend using a coach or car to get here as the grounds not the best to get to via local transport.

 

Southend – Last Season 5th (League 2)

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By Tom Ross

Sum up your team in six words?
Can’t do anything the easy way!

Where do you think you will finish this season?
Been our first season back in league 1, I would be happy for a mid table finish. Had too much drama for a lifetime these last 5 years! Plus higher than Colchester would be a bonus!

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
For me I think Sheff United will be up there, don’t know about walking away with it.

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
I can see them finishing just outside the play offs to mid table.

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?Our youngster keeper Dan Bentley, pulled off some fantastic saves throughout the year consistently. Broke a 30+ year record by not conceding at home in the league for 11 games.
And little Jack Payne. He managed 8 goals in his first professional season. Teams just didn’t know how to handle him. Southends Messi.

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
Colchester home and away most definitely. Been waiting too long to play that lot!

It would appear you’re set for a goalkeeper windfall. Will this be invested back into the squad?
I hope we get to keep him for at least this season. As for the investment us fans have been waiting since 2007 to see the “Freddy Eastwood money” we received £1.2mill and it mysteriously disappeared possibly into the chairmans pockets.

 

 

Swindon – Last Season 4th

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By Matt Arnold

Where do you think you will finish this season?
Up until a week before the season started, I’d have predicted lower mid table, but the resigning of last years Player Of The Year Jordan Turnbull, a young centre back on loan from Southampton has given me new hope. I think we’ll just miss out on the Play Offs

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
Wigan could run them close but it’s hard to see beyond Sheffield United. Adkins is a fantastic appointment at this level, and an song Billy Sharp is a terrifying prospect for any League 1 defence

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
You’ve bought well, if you can keep him fit AND confident Andy Williams should go great guns again this year. Mackenzie and Taylor-Sinclair, on paper, are very good signings. After his stop-start, short spell here I’m less convinced by Dany N’Guessan, but I still think you’ll make the top 6

Why do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?
Aside from the aforementioned Turnbull, our Captain Nathan Thompson has a lot resting on his shoulders on and off the pitch. He’s only 24 but he’s got to help a squad, half of whom are new to the club, bond quickly

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
As a London based fan Millwall away in October, and Southend in (hopefully) the late August sunshine should be good trips. We’ve nothing approaching a derby this year, with Bristol City, Bristol Rovers and Oxford all in other divisions, so I’m not sure which home games will capture the imagination of the fanbase as a whole.

Playoff heartbreak for your boys. With the gulf in class shown in the final do you think a year of building further will be a benefit?
It’s tricky to know, because so many of that team have moved on. Last season the lack of experience in the squad (the average age of the starting 11 was about 21) really told during the run in. We’ve probably got even less experience in the current crop, so if we challenge again, and it’s a big if, avoiding another late season slump will be key.

 

Walsall – Last Season 14th

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By Tim Allen

Sum up your team in six words?

The epitome of mid table mediocrity

Where do you think you will finish this season?
See above. Too good to go down but probably not quite enough for a playoff push

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
Wigan will take some beating, they must have a budget that eclipses all others.

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year? League 1 is such a mad league you could finish literally earlier. You didn’t impress me last season though so I’m going to say 14th

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season? Lalkovic could potentially play at a much higher level so would have to say him.

Which game are you looking forward to the most? Blackpool away is always a treat. Especially as it should be an easy three points this season. A Walsall win, fish and chips and getting absolutely shit faced sounds like a fun day for the whole family

James Baxendale – did we do the right thing in letting him go? Definitely. Scored a few scorchers but is all style over substance. He would probably benefit from a drop down to league 2

 

Wigan – Last Season 23rd (Championship)

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By Ryan Hoey

Where do you think you will finish this season?
I think we are capable of finishing top 6, I’d be very happy with a top 6 finish as there are some good teams in League One. I think will finish about 8th. Quite a few of our fans are underestimating how good the league is.

Who do you think will walk away with the League 1 crown?
I think Sheffield United will win the league as it’s about time they got out of the league and they’ve got a good manager in Nigel Adkins, who’s been there and done it before with Reading & Southampton, so he has got good experience also they have a good enough squad.

Where do you think DRFC will finish this year?
I think Doncaster will finish about 10th ish. Possibly a late push for top 6.

Who do you think will be your key man for the upcoming season?
I think Will Gregg will be very important and possibly our key man as he scored 20 goals for MK Dons last season and has experience in League 1 also he helped them get automatic promotion and hopefully he can continue his form from last season with us.

Which game are you looking forward to the most?
For me personally home mid week games I can go to due to refereeing on Saturdays, but for most fans, probably local away games, such as Blackpool, Fleetwood, Oldham, Bury and Rochdale away as we should take a decent following. 

You should have a wage bill that will massively eclipse all of this division. Are you worried that if you don’t bounce back quickly then you’ll end up in financial difficulties?
No, I’m not worried because I think we are financially sound. However, our premier league parachute payments will end soon so that might be a worry.