Tag Archives: Doncaster Rovers Supporters Group

DRSG Statement: John Ryan

John Ryan – Doncaster Rovers Chairman

On behalf of our members and all Doncaster Rovers fans, the Doncaster Rovers Supporters Group would like to place on record its gratitude and thanks for the tremendous efforts of John Ryan during his time as a Shareholder, Board Member and Chairman of Doncaster Rovers.

They say that in football no man is bigger than the club, but we at the DRSG believe John Ryan came pretty close. He showed commitment and passion and connected with the fans in ways that Chairmen around the country could only dream of.  He will forever remain in the history of Doncaster Rovers.

John Ryan - Doncaster Rovers Chairman

John Ryan wore his heart on his sleeve, created hope when misery was inflicted and gave us a license to dream big, and we hope this new era at Doncaster Rovers will build on these values and continue the legacy that John Ryan has left at Doncaster Rovers.

We wish John all the best for the future, we are sure he will remain a fan and friend of the club and hopefully he will see the enjoyment and excitement that he has given to us for the best part of the last 2 decades.

Thank you John.

John Ryan – Doncaster Rovers Chairman

Thank You Sir JR

Following confirmation that John Ryan has ‘given’ his shares and loans back to the club, he ends his professional involvement in his childhood club after nearly 20 years.

Loved by the fans for his never say die attitude and wearing his heart on his sleeve. If John Ryan is calling this the end for his time as a DRFC shareholder, then he leaves the club in far better shape than when he first joined nearly two decades ago.

Lee Croft looks back on JR’s time with the club with 4 installments due in the next week.

 

Part One: The Ryan Revolution Begins

John Ryan first joined the club as a director with a small shareholding in 1992, the Chairman at the time was James Burke and financially Doncaster Rovers were struggling. In recent times both Aldershot and Maidstone United had collapsed and there was a fear amongst many lower league clubs that they could be next.

In October 1992 the board looked to issue 300,000 new shares, but at the AGM this was rejected by a majority, mainly in fear the the amount of new shares would mean it would become very easy for one individual to take control of the club. However in December that year a special convened general meeting approved the proposal as it emerged the club were in significant debt.

In March 1993 the club was taken to the High Court once again due to an unpaid balance due to the Inland Revenue, this was adjourned due to the Rovers being taken over by Dinard Trading Company. They acquired a 52% controlling interest in the club and were fronted by Ken Richardson, formerly of Bridlington Town. At the time it was evident his spell with Bridlington was a successful one where his investment had created a thriving club. With debts of over £360,000 and the fear of going out of business, the financial commitment from Richardson and Dinard was initially welcomed warmly by all those involved.

John Ryan wasn’t overly convinced and boardroom struggles eventually lead to him resigning later in 1993, selling his remaining shares to Richardson and Dinard. In an interview with Radio Sheffield in 2008, Ryan claims he was even banned from the club at one point by Ken Richardson. In the same interview he also recalls that some fans were accusing him of holding the club back by not selling to Richardson sooner.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Richardson was putting a lot of money into the club and continued to do so once Ryan walked away. His motivation for this would later turn out to be more than making a successful club. He wanted the council to build the Rovers a new stadium so he could cash in on the lease of Belle Vue, which was a prime piece of land considering its location and the regeneration ongoing in Doncaster at the time.

This became more evident when the council rejected his request the money suddenly slowed down (but didn’t vanish). After the Main Stand was set on fire in 1995, Ken Richardson was later arrested for organising the crime to force the council’s hand. Richardson’s financial support was completely withdrawn by 1997 and in the 97/98 season Doncaster Rovers recorded what would be officially the worst season a club has ever had in the Football League with the highest amount of losses.

Placed in administration, and relegated from the Football League, the club released most of its few professionals to ease the financial burden but still there were real fears that the club would cease to trade and become extinct. Westferry PLC, another Isle of Man based company (dubbed the Irish Consortium due to the financial arm being based in Dublin) bought the club (and the lease) for £4.5 Million and in doing so recruited Ian McMahon to act as CEO and were actively looking for a Non-Executive Chairman who was ideally a local businessmen who the town could get behind. Step forward John Ryan.

Starting the season without enough players to field a starting 11 and a bench, there were rumours that the team were picking players up along the motorway on route to our first game of the season at Dover. Losing 1-0, this season was always going to be about steadying the ship and consolidating.

Rovers legends Ian and Glyn Snodin were brought in to be manager and assistant respectively, even Neville Southall formerly of Everton got on board and there was real interest in the club again. The first home game of the season saw the Rovers welcome Southport, and the crowd at Belle Vue was a staggering 3663, the highest conference crowd of the night and almost 4 times more than the club were averaging the year before.

Ian Duerden would become the unlikely hero that season, netting a hatrick against Rushden & Diamonds (a result that would spur us on to safety) as well as scoring an audacious lob in 3-0 win against Farnborough at Belle Vue that saw the club lift the Endsleigh Challenge Trophy. Whilst a relatively small feat in the grand scheme of things, it was the first trophy the club had won in 40 years and after the misery endured before it the first trophy in the Ryan era would set the foundations of what was to come.

Ryan (along with fellow businessmen Peter Wetzel) finally bought the club from Westferry at the end of that season for a mere £40,000. Westferry however would retain the lease on Belle Vue which they considered the most valuable asset in the £4.5 Million purchase a year previously.

Following this, Ryan made 4 promises to the supporters: Firstly, he would get Doncaster back into the Football League, move us to a new stadium, get the club to a major cup final and get Doncaster back to the second tier of English football, a league we had not played in since John Ryan started watching us back in 1958. For many fans the first two seemed unrealistic, never mind a cup final and rising to the First Division (as it was known then).

But the people of Doncaster had a club again, with a local man in charge who represented local values. There was still work to do but there was a great sense of optimism in the air and the future seemed much brighter for Doncaster Rovers…

 

#MyLocalTeam

Whilst the outcome of the current season is still in the balance with the Vikings not too far off the play-offs, one thing is for certain; next season will be our 13th consecutive season in the Football League since that day in 2003 when Sir Francis Tierney slotted home the Promotion winning goal.

Here at the DRSG we do not ignore the view of many fans about the lack of atmosphere at the Keepmoat Stadium, and we have put this at the top of our agenda when meeting with the club through the fan panels. Today saw Doncaster Rovers launch their Season Ticket campaign and announce their prices for the 2015/16 season. Which can be seen here.

Having worked with the club and the fans we have played a vital role in advising the club to use this opportunity to also begin improving the match-day experience. Having taken our feedback on board,  the club have taken the decision to make the South Stand unreserved seating for next season, and have dropped it to a Category C in a move to allow fans who want to create an atmosphere to move into the South Stand and group together on match days and make our support heard!

What we have recognised throughout this is how much the club values the fantastic support it receives from you, our fellow fans. Being a handful of clubs to have never played in the top flight of English Football, and our greatest achievement of spending less than 10% of our history in the second division, we know that our fans don’t and never have supported us purely because of our success.

Its the local pride and passion that fills us all with joy watching our local heroes donning the Red and White hoops. The sense of togetherness we all share, whether we agree on all issues or not. We are bleed Red and White. This fantastic club is yours, mine and ours.

Be proud to stand up and say I support #MyLocalTeam

 

Exiles join the DRSG!

Doncaster Rovers Supporters Group are pleased to announce the “DRFC Exiles” as the first affiliate organisation to join the DRSG.

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The DRSG is here to serve as an umbrella organisation to which every group, body or individual can turn to in order to ensure that their voice can be heard. Those groups or individuals who want their views represented will, by joining the DRSG, be able to state their case and have it taken forward to the club as an independent voice with the DRSG providing that voice.

Wesley Grimes of the DRSG Interim Committee: “Having an independent group on board such as the Exiles is a reflection of the progression we have made in such a short space of time.”

“Just this month we passed the 1000 membership mark and joining forces with the Exiles gives us a direct link to the supporters who use and rely on different aspects and experiences from Doncaster Rovers when compared to the usual match going fan. This only spreads the demographic we are reaching out to and gives us greater scope for consultation and of course, representation.”

“We’re still a young group and there is a long way to go, but there is a good feeling about what we can achieve. We’ve got a lot of members and as we continue to grow we need to give the representation and action such a membership deserves. Fans have turned to us and put their faith in us representing them, now its time to deliver on that.”

The new home for the DRFC Exiles is now right here on the DRSG website. The DRSG will be looking to create and provide a Exile Hub of information, news and stories from our fellow Exiles about following the Rovers from all around the world.

The DRSG are a democratic group setup to represent the wishes and concerns of Doncaster Rovers Supporters to the club. We are, and always will be, free to join and we welcome input from all DRFC fans, regardless of their views.

To join the DRSG click here.

Exclusive Interview – John Ryan!!!

 

This summer brought more takeover frenzy at the Keepmoat as John Ryan and Louis Tomlinson launched a bid to try and become joint owners of the club. The bid was unsuccessful with the Football Leagues regulations standing in their way. As a result John Ryan announced that he was ‘finished with football’, something that no doubt brought great dismay to all Doncaster Rovers fans.

The man who saved DRFC in 1998 from inevitable liquidation was announcing the end of one amazing ride which had seen us win 4 promotions, including 2 play off wins, claim the Johnstones Paint Trophy and have a giant killing run in the League Cup.

I’d tried several times to get into contact with John since the collapse but with no avail. The pain of the summer’s events had no doubt taken its toll.  However when I finally got a chance to speak to our most successful chairman, through his daughter Claire I didn’t know how to approach it.

My whole Doncaster Rovers supporting life under John Ryan had for the most been a fulfilling experience. I’d argue that not many supporters in Britain had been treated to such highs that we’d had at the club and I wanted to relive that with the man who’d delivered it.

It was clear from the moment John picked up the phone that football still played a huge part in his life. The passion and romance John still displayed when he spoke about the club was still there. It was like speaking to any fan I’d come across. After all this was a supporter of the club first and a Chairman second.

I was keen to focus on the great times we had and not those that have stained the last two summers and John delivered in so many ways. His voice crackled with emotion when he talked of the achievements made and the sense of camaraderie at the club during its meteoric rise.

 

So we at the DRSG present to you, the most influential man in Doncaster Rovers history, John Ryan in his first interview since the summer!

 

1) You came back to the club in 1998 when the club had next to nothing in terms of equipment. Was there anything you had to send a lackey out to get last minute, as they never got taken into consideration till the last minute?

The club was knackered when I arrived back, the club needed money desperately, I had to give a bond to the Conference for a substantial sum, people didn’t realise what a situation we were in. We had to pick players up on the way down to Dover; I celebrated because we only lost 1-0.  We had no shirts so I’d been in contact with Neil Warnock to borrow some off Sheffield United. As it was we found some of the East Riding Sacks shirts and wore those. The fans were terrific in those early days, helping fix up the Stadium to ensure we could play. Everyone wanted to contribute, a great sense of camaraderie and team spirit surged through the club.

 

2) How much truth is there in the rumour that you bought all the squad a Peters Crispy Cod following promotion one year? What would you recommend from the menu?

I always recommend Crispy Cod because it’s the finest Fish and Chip shop in the whole of England. I’m partial to Fish and Chips and I’ve tried them up and down the country, mainly at away venues where Rovers are playing. After the game where we’d won handsomely I delivered it to them, it was great fun. I know players shouldn’t eat Fish and Chips but I was more than happy for them to do it on a Saturday night after they’d thrashed a side then it’s fair enough with a pint of bitter to go with it. That was the ‘Pub team having a laugh’ mentality. My Bentley has seen plenty of Fish and Chips piled in the back, the last time being just last week. I was in Doncaster and found time to nip off for a Crispy Cod.

 

3) Your goals to game ratio at DRFC is worse than Mark Sales, Justin Jacksons and Neil Campbell’s, do you feel you could have delivered more on the pitch in our Conference promotion year?

No because my record if you look at it another way is: Played one, won one!

 

4) Off the fence now, Belle Vue or the Keepmoat Stadium?

Without any doubt, Belle Vue. Fantastic atmosphere, other than the Keepmoat for the Southend game it is unfortunately fairly soulless.

 

5) Who has been your favourite DRFC player to grace our turf during your time at the helm? 

I think Coppinger. Closely followed by Wellens and Stock.

 

6) What has been your best moment at Doncaster Rovers?

Without doubt walking on the Wembley pitch having beaten Leeds, I was in dreamland. It couldn’t have been any better if we’d beaten Manchester United, it couldn’t have been any better than beating good old Leeds United!

 

7) What’s the worst you’ve been treated as a Chairman at an opposition ground?

Worst was at Boston United away when a load of purported Rovers fans, though I believe they were Donny Whites spent the whole game having a go at me and I was with my daughter so that left me feeling very, very annoyed. That was way back in the conference.

 

8) Have you ever signed a player on a whim without seeing them play?

I don’t think I have really. I always left that with my manager and his scouting network.

 

9) What’s been your favourite Rovers chant of all time?

‘Just a Pub team, having a laugh’ – it embodied the tremendous spirit going through the club in those years and a tremendous enthusiasm that somewhere along the way we seem to have lost.

 

10) Where do you honestly think we’ll finish this season?

My heart says playoffs, my head says…mid table.

 

11) Have you ever donned the Donny Dog outfit and masqueraded in disguise?

No hahaha. I can’t get in, its too small. Otherwise I probably would have done. I left that to Andy Liney!

 

12) What moment has made you laugh more than any other at football?

Andy Liney when he was mimicking the dance behind all the Vikettes. Definitely one from Andy Lineys time as Donny Dog, though I must add Claire does a fantastic job too

 

The questions on everyone’s lips:

13) What’s the worst film you’ve ever seen?

Without doubt that bloody film with the guy from Ali G, it was bloody awful, erm, I think its called Borat!

 

14) What is your favourite cheese?

Smoked Austrian

 

15) Who’s the most famous person in your phone contacts?

I’ll give you three, Sir Alex Ferguson, Kevin Pieterson and Louis Tomlinson

 

16) Whats your signature dish. Do you make a mean Spag Bol?

My signature dish is definitely collecting Fish and Chips. I don’t cook so I don’t make a mean Spag Bol or a mean anything else.

 

17) What’s your biggest phobia?

Watching Leeds United win!

 

18) Boxers or briefs?

Hahaha too much info!

 

19) 1D or John Parr?

1D – I like John Parr but I must say 1D as I saw them in concert not long back and they were brilliant!

 

20) If Mustapha Dumbuya had a pony what would it be called?

Speedo

 

Final question (its a thinker): If you could have a chance to play again in a testimonial game – who would you take on, under what manager and with what other 10 rovers players in your side?

I’d like to take on a Manchester United legends team, captained by Bryan Robson and managed by Sir Alex Ferguson

GK: Sullivan

RB: Marples

CB: Jones

CB: McCombe

LB: Snodin

RM: Coppinger

CM: Wellens

CM: Stock

LM: Mcindoe

ST: Sharp

ST: Jeffery

 

Manager: Sean O’Driscoll

 

So that brings us to the end of my brief encounter with John Ryan. The one thing clear throughout the interview was the passion displayed towards the club and the camaraderie shown by the fans and directors alike to build the club to what it is today. We chased a dream and cut teams down to size along the way.

If John Ryan never returns to the capacity as Chairman of the club he has achieved a legacy that will be unsurpassed. After years of being a team who were regularly joked about we suddenly began to laugh harder than those around us. The youth football pitches started to fill up with Doncaster Rovers shirts and the town proudly acknowledged there was a football team again.

So on behalf of the DRSG and the supporters of a club that was on the brink of extinction, thanks for giving this generation and the next somewhere to go dream every Saturday!

 

John Ryan was interviewed by Wesley Grimes on behalf of the Doncaster Rovers Supporters Group

Membership update

 

Membership update:
WE ARE 106 STRONG AND COUNTING.

 

Over 100 members (including one Mr Ryan) within 3 hours!

 

Doncaster Rovers Supporters Group Membership

Please keep spreading the word people, only be growing our membership will we be able to bring our influence onto the club and make DRFC a better club for ALL.

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