Tag Archives: Doncaster


DRSG Committee Member and Charity Hero Rob Johnson gives us a Match Review of his experience in the Charity Legends Game:

On 23rd May I was given the glorious opportunity to fulfil a lifelong ambition to play on the Keepmoat pitch – what follows is my account of a surreal but brilliant experience.

After a classic athletes night of preparation (7 pints and a pizza) the night before, I woke up early on the morning of the game to butterflies in my stomach and dreams of scoring in my mind. I was cautiously optimistic despite my head still being a bit fuzzy from the night before and I set off to meet my fellow players at the Earl of Doncaster. On the way I received a text: ‘Right wing. Second half’ I shuddered at the prospect of having to play midfield on such a massive pitch as I glimpsed my beer gut in the reflection of a car window but I was pleased to be playing in the second half rather than having to come off at half time.

I arrived at the Earl and was relieved to see my anxiety and nervousness mirrored on the faces of my teammates as we waited for the coach to take us to the Keepmoat. News filtered through that Darius Vassell had dropped out to be replaced by Mark Draper which made all of us breathe a sigh of relief – particularly the defenders.

When we arrived at the ground we were filmed coming off the coach and friends and family were on hand to give us a cheer as we emerged from the coach, all of us were trying to play it cool but I spectacularly failed at not grinning like a lunatic at the ludicrousness of the situation.

Entering the home dressing room for the first time to see my kit hung up with ‘Johnson 17’ on the back was a huge thrill obviously despite my slight annoyance at been given number 17… I imagined some of the arses that have sat on the bench I was sitting on and all the great players who had strolled victorious into that same room as well as the countless shit players who had trudged in after a defeat and the nerves really started to kick in.

We walked around the pitch in our suits for a bit evoking memories of Liverpool’s ridiculous white suits from the 1995 FA cup final before changing into our training tops for a warm up. Before I knew it we were walking out in our kits and shaking hands with the legends as kick off hurtled ever closer. I literally couldn’t believe how bloody massive Dave Beasant was, my penis shrank inside my body as we shook hands and I was also struck by how much Darren Anderton looked exactly the same as in his Euro 96 heyday.

Charity Heroes Team Photo

The game kicked off and despite our co manager Danny Schofield (ex Huddersfield Town) telling us to take our time and enjoy it, the charity side looked nervous in the first few minutes. Former Arsenal striker Perry Groves must have offended our left back Andy Mankin at some point as he felled him in the box three times in the first half, with referee Andy Butler awarding a penalty for one of them which Rob Pick duly dispatched for 1-0. Darren Anderton smashed home a second from 25 yards which led to my first Anderton inspired semi on of the day and before long the Legends were 3-0 up. The upside of this for me was that the pressure was lessened for those of us playing in the second half as the game seemed to be lost already.

Legends take a storming leaad

From nowhere though a Ryan Becks inspired come back began, starting with a pretty hilarious mix up between Beasant and his defence (don’t tell him I said that) and ending with Adam Myers levelling the game at 3-3 just before half time with a composed finish from Tom Ambler sandwiched in between. The second half team looked at each other with grim faces as the realization kicked in… it matters a lot more now. Shit.

Charity Heroes Hit Back

The second half begun with the charity team swapping all 11 players which meant that I started on the right wing. Everyone had said it was important that your first touch be a positive one and my first pass went without a hitch, it was to someone stood 3 yards away but still a strong start. My second touch was to someone clearly stood offside. My third touch was a shanked cross as was my fourth – a cross so mis-hit it actually looked like a shot. I came worryingly close to curling up in a ball and violently weeping at this point but Danny Schofield took me aside and basically just told me to calm down and I regained focus.

From there the match was a blur of goals, sideways passes (shout out to Mark Wilson) and one glorious crossfield ball from me that led to one of Karl Harrison’s two goals which I spoke about at great length to anyone who would listen for the rest of the night.

Charity Heroes score again

My first abiding memory is of feeling sick with the effort of trying to track Lee Hendrie, looking up at the score board with horror at the realization that only four minutes of the second half had passed. The Legends regained the lead of course, but the charity team fought valiantly and we pegged them back a couple of times before fitness and the outrageous ability of Darren Anderton, Julio Arca and Lee Hendrie started to show. At one point I had a ten yard head start for the ball against a 43 year old Darren Anderton and he just glided past me and stole it away. He looked so handsome as he did it as well. What a guy.

So the game wrapped up with a Dolly Parton approved score line of 9-5 to the Legends team but I will always have THAT 30 yard pass, the knowledge that I merked Phil Babb and hearing my mates chanting ‘you fat bastard’ from the stands.

Walker and Hendrie join Legends Game

The Eve Merton Dreams Trust have today announced that Des Walker and Lee Hendrie will return to play in the Charity Legends Game on Saturday 23rd May 2015 at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Des Walker brings with him a wealth of experience with over 600 career appearances and representing England with 59 Caps. He is fondly remembered stealing the show in Italia 90’, although he may tell you the highlight of his career was his one and only ever professional goal in 1992 against Luton Town in a 1-1 draw.
Robbie Williams look alike Lee Hendrie has the honour of winning the prestigious Man of the Match award in his 2 previous appearances in this fixture, he has also represented the national team on one occasion and despite being with Aston Villa for 12 years he went on to play for 16 other professional clubs in the remaining 6 years of his career.

The Eves Merton Dreams Trust was set up in 2011 by Martin Lawrence & Clynton Johnson. It is a non profit organisation that donates the money it raises to help create a dream for a terminally or seriously ill cancer patient in the Doncaster area which is why so many local people are very passionate about this charity which has enabled brilliant events like the legends games, the dragon boat race, poker nights and an evening with Paul Merson.

The Charity Legends Game will be taking place at the Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday 23rd May with a team of Football Legends going up against a team of a team of charity fundraisers, mostly made up of school teachers representing their academies, colleges and schools. Tickets are priced at £5 for Adults and £3 for Children. Family Tickets (2 adults and 2 children) are available for just £10 and if that wasn’t all; DRFC fans can save 50% off with their DRFC Season Ticket.


Charity Legends Game Poster

A Look Back on John Ryan Part 2: Staying on Track

Part One is available HERE

In the summer of 1999, John Ryan must have felt pretty proud. A year previous was a time of uncertainty but along with Aidan Phelan, Ian MacMahon and Peter Wetzel to name a few; John Ryan had helped to save Doncaster Rovers and keep the club alive, going from the pits of nothing to a sell out crowd at Belle Vue witnessing the club win the Endsleigh Challenge Trophy.

But the club were still in the Conference, and were still some way away from achieving Ryan’s first promise of getting the club back into the league. However, he put his money where his mouth is, and for a team that finished in the lower half of the Conference we continued to sign some pretty big names. Mark Atkins, a midfielder who lifted the Premier League Trophy with Blackburn Rovers 5 years previous signed for the club in what was considered by some as the coup of the century. Despite this, the club could only go on to retain the Challenge Trophy that season with a small improvement in their final league position than that of the season before.

Ian Snodin’s reign would be brought to an end and Steve Wignall was brought in. A former Doncaster player who had successful managerial spells at the newly formed Aldershot Town and later Colchester was seen as a fantastic appointment. However, with only one team being promoted each season it was becoming a difficult task and it wasn’t long before pressure began mounting on Wignall.

Off the pitch Ryan was also piling pressure on the Council for a new Stadium. Unlike Richardson he had no financial interest on the Belle Vue lease and felt he could only continue to fund the club for so much longer in the run down Belle Vue. Getting the club into a new stadium was probably more important for Ryan than getting them out of the Conference, and in a political move to force the Council’s hand Ryan resigned as Chairman in late 2001.

Before Ryan rejoined the board in 2003 after the council finally committed to the new stadium, there were times when it was rumoured that Ryan was considering withdrawing his financial support. As a result, the Supporters Club and Viking supporters Co-operative were footing the bill for the first team hotel stays when playing far away in late 2001 and early 2002. Although he didn’t return as Chairman straight away, Ryan did at least continue to financially support the club in 2002 and remained an active shareholder.

During this short time, Wignall was replaced by player Dave Penney as he made the step up to management. The Nationwide Conference also announced that 2 promotion places would be up for grabs with the introduction of the Conference Play Offs. As a club that was challenging in the top 5 of the Conference, this gave the club new hope that a return back into the Football League was on the horizon.

The 2002-03 season would become one of the most memorable season’s of Ryan’s tenure, as he played out a childhood dream when he played for the first team against Hereford in the final league game of the season. Winning 4-2 and a play-place confirmed, Ryan entered the guinness book of records when he made his professional debut at 52 years and 11 months.

And so, the Rovers would take part in the first ever Conference Play Offs, with a 2 legged tie against Chester City was all that remained between Doncaster Rovers and a date at Stoke to compete for a place in the Football League. The first leg at Belle Vue saw ex Rovers player Kevin MacIntyre pop up to silence the Rovers fans and in cruel footballing fashion a simple finger on the lips was the celebration. The tie wouldn’t end in all doom and gloom for the Vikings however, as Tristian Whitman popped up in injury time to score a fine effort with the outside of his foot to give the Rovers some hope going into the second leg at the Deva Stadium.

Half an hour on the clock and Wayne Hatswell, who scored probably the most famous own goal of the decade 1 year previous, put the hosts into the lead and that feeling of nerves that your season hangs in the balance of this game started to surface. Thankfully, Paul Barnes prodded home the equaliser that was perhaps the most ugliest goal ever scored, but the Rovers fans behind the goal celebrated as if it was the most important, and at that very moment in time, It was.

With the game tied at 1-1 and 2-2 on aggregate, the only way to separate Chester and the Rovers would be a penalty shootout. Patterson would take the first for the Rovers, only to see Brown in the Chester goal make a good save and set the pressure mounting on Penney’s boys. Warrington however was to earn himself hero status saving the first and last Chester penalty which saw Chester knocked out, and a trip to Stoke’s Brittannia Stadium on the cards for the Rovers, playing against Dagenham and Redbridge for a place in the Football League.

And so, on the 10th May 2003, over 10,000 Rovers fans descended to Stoke’s Britannia Stadium in the first ever Conference Play Off Final. There has rarely been a better sight than Paul Green scoring the first goal of the game in front of the travelling army and setting Doncaster on their way. 10 minutes into the second half and it was soon 2-0 thanks to a goal from big man Dave Morley. At 2-0 up things were looking good, but as JR once recalled, “We don’t do things the easy way” and Dagenham would come back into the game and level 2-2 after goals from Mark Stein and Tarkan Mustafa.

Prior to this game (and since) – no team had ever won promotion via a Golden Goal, but the Rovers were determined to break that habit and 10 minutes from the end of extra time the unlikely hero Francis Tierney popped up to slot home arguably the most important goal in Doncaster Rovers’ history. 5 years on since relegation to the conference and John Ryan had steered his club back into the league. Achieving the first of his promises.

Our 5 year stint in the Conference is often looked back upon by some as more enjoyable and a time when things were much less serious. Perhaps that is a virtue of always looking back at the ‘Golden Age’ because for John Ryan this period saw political struggles with the council, 3 different managers and promotion coming in the most nail-biting of circumstances. Nevertheless he kept his word and got Doncaster Rovers back into the league, a feat that would plate him in golden armour.



Footgolf comes to Doncaster this weekend.  One of the fastest growing hybrid sports has launched its centre of excellence in High Melton and the Doncaster Rovers Supporters Group has secured a fantastic deal for you to try it out!

Ever fancied yourself as a dead ball specialist?  Do you pull out of tackles faster than David Cotterill? Well nows your chance to prove your worth in the non-contact sport thats taking the nation by storm!

For just £1 (the price of a child to watch Rovers Vs. Leek in the Conference) you can try out the new facilities. Simply ring 0800 6899552 and quote ‘Doncaster Rovers Supporters Group’ when making your booking to get a trial of the course at this amazing price this weekend only.

High Melton
South Yorkshire

Opens: 9AM
Last Tee Off: 19:30

No football boots or blades to be worn on the course.

See what its all about here: http://youtu.be/451j2UhCI6Q

“It is impossible to imagine Goethe or Beethoven being good at billiards of FootGolf”
T. Offe