Tag Archives: John Ryan

Lee Croft’s Ultimate Guide to losing your job as Doncaster Rovers Manager

With many dubbing Paul Dickov’s current role at Doncaster Rovers as the ‘safest job in football’, Lee Croft looks back on what other managers have had to do before being shown their P45.

IAN SNODIN 1998-2000

When Snodin came in the off season of 1998, he was gifted what was probably an impossible task of managing Doncaster Rovers. With just 4 registered players and uncertainties over the conference granting us the right to play in the 5th tier, Snodin would have to work very hard to bring some stability to the club.

The shock reality of how far we had really fallen was epitomised on the first day of the season away at Dover. Picking players up on the motorway, running out in 2 year old kits showcasing the sponsors of the company of the man who almost broke the club, 2 fans pitch invading in outrage and a 6 hour trip back after a 1-0 loss. The theme would continue. Just 1 win in the first 10 and a double dip relegation looked to be on the horizon. Somehow Snodin turned it around and steered us into 16th position. A poor return in hindsight but given the nature of the job and the situation at hand, it was fantastic we somehow didn’t end up relegated. The fans also got their day in the sun as Snodin guided the team to winning the Endsleigh Challenge trophy after a 3-0 win (4-0 on aggregate) at Belle Vue against Farnborough.

The following season would mirror the same result in the Challenge Trophy, but in April 2000, with Rovers ‘enjoying’ mid-table mediocrity, the axe was wielded and Rovers favourite son was sent packing.

Sacking tip: Avoid relegation and achieve mid-table mediocrity.



When Wignall arrived the ambition was clear, get Doncaster Rovers into the football league. However, with only one spot available for the winner of the league it was always going to be a difficult task for Wignall.

His first season was not much more impressive than that previous. Rovers finished 9th and a somewhat distant 28 points behind 1st place Rushden and Diamonds. Although, things were not all happy smiles at the club anymore. Chairman John Ryan and his side kick Peter Wetzel were entering a political war with the council over a new ground and as a result Ryan and Wetzel resigned and the funding of the club was in doubt.

That being said, Wignall still managed to improve his squad by bringing in Justin Jackson, an accomplished striker who had scored nearly 50 goals in his last 2 seasons (the last with league winners Rushden). Sadly however, it wasn’t to be and in January 2002 Wignall was relieved of his duties. The official statement gave the reason of financial constraints and the word from the club pointed to Ryan and Wetzel no longer funding the club. On the pitch Wignall had failed to deliver as well, sitting in 10th pace and 15 points behind the current leaders Boston.

Sacking tip: Failure to get an accomplished striker playing, failure to mount a promotion push.


DAVE PENNEY 2002-2006

Penney continued the trend of being the third manager in succession to have played for the club. For Penney however it was much more a recent player and was at first player-manager. However as he neared the end of his playing days it became a full time role.

Given the financial constraints on the club that lead to sacking Wignall and giving Penney the job in the first place, you could say that he came into a job without as much pressure. Yet Penney managed the impossible as he got the club promoted back into league after 5 years, and despite being favourites for relegation he lead the team to a second promotion as Rovers won Division Three. His Third full season in charge wasn’t as eventful as Rovers achieved a solid finish in League One.

The next season would fail to see an improvement, however reaching the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup proved to be a highlight and papered over the cracks showing in what was beginning to become a predictable and boring game from the Rovers. When Michael McIndoe left in the off season in 2006, many questions loomed over where we would go from there. John Ryan could obviously see what was happening too, and a few games into the 2006/07 season he made the choice to let Penney go.

Sacking tip: Achieve 2 consecutive mid-table finishes in a division 2 levels higher than when you arrived.



With many fans unhappy at Penney’s departure, and rumours of Kevin Keegan being lined up as the next manager. The words on Rovers fans mouths were “Sean O Who?” when O’Driscoll was named manager in 2006.

In his 5 year reign he would win the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy earn promotion to the Championship for the first time in 50 years via the play-offs and achieve the highest finish we had ever achieved in our modern era. John Ryan often quoted SOD’s beautiful passing game as the reason he brought him to Doncaster and SOD’s Rovers would showcase this astonishingly. For many fans this was the best we had played in a long time, dubbed the “Arsenal of the North” and an era described as “Total Football”, it was clear throughout that O’Driscoll was doing this on a shoestring budget.

The fairy tale wouldn’t last sadly, and a squad hit with many injuries and a poor run of form without a win stretching to 19 games (equalling a club record) saw the curtains drawn on Sean O’Driscoll’s time.

Sacking Tip: Equal a negative club record and occupy the relegation spot 7 games into the season.



After Saunders left for Wolves, and Rovers occupied second in League One, Brian Flynn was promoted from scout to manager till the end of the season. Flynn wasn’t a popular candidate immediately with fans, but this probably wasn’t helped with John Ryan going on record to say that we had some fantastic applicants for the role and some of them of ‘premier league calibre’.

Flynn however did steer the ship well, slightly improving the home form, and continuing the fantastic away form. After a late winner from Kyle Bennet against Shewsbury, Doncaster would take top spot and would stay there for the most of the games remaining. An incredible run of form from Bournemouth saw them finally overtake us with a game to go and earn promotion before us (as the only two teams that could overtake them – Rovers and Brentford – played each other in the final game). However Flynn would get the last laugh as Rovers won the league in the final minute of the season. Trotta would miss a ‘promotion penalty’ and 18 seconds later Paynter would roll the ball across the goalmouth for James Coppinger to slot home and earn us the league title.

Despite guiding Rovers to our first national title in Tier 3 (given it was North/South last time we won), there was still rumours around regarding whether Flynn would be given the role for our return to the Championship. Flynn would put an end to these rumours by announcing he would step aside and take up a role in player development and scouting. Whilst he wasn’t strictly sacked, for many fans it seems obvious that he stepped down to save the embarrassment of not being offered the role despite being promotion.

Sacking Tip: Achieve the promotion by winning League One for the first time in the club’s history.



It seems at Doncaster Rovers, just about anything is possible to earn you the boot. From starting a season badly, to taking the club 2 divisions higher and enjoying mid table mediocrity. Heck, even winning the league can see you given the boot (at least from the manager’s office to the scouts cupboard).

Co-incidentally, the only manager from this era not in this list is the only manager to get us relegated. Yes, Dean Saunders. Despite taking Rovers down in cruel fashion and chirping out the same excuse “I manage a team that has a losing mentality – it’s my job to turn that around” he somehow was given the all clear to keep his job and rebuild for League One before jumping ship to Wolves.

And on that note, it seems from the evidence given that the only thing you can do to not lose your job at DRFC, is get relegated. Like Saunders, Dickov oversaw the Rovers relegation from the Championship in 2014. So perhaps, Dickov does know what he is doing this season; he is just doing what he can to keep his job!


Doncaster Rovers Quiz

Doncaster Rovers Quiz

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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.

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…


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?



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:


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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Louis Tomlinson – Doncaster Rovers takeover complete


After a number of false dawns we can now confirm that the consortium headed by John Ryan and Louis Tomlinson has concluded their deal to buy Doncaster Rovers Football club.


Louis Tomlinson Doncaster Rovers Takeover


The deal will be made public on Thursday (19th June) at a press conference in London but an announcement by DRFC is expected tonight.

On behalf of our membership we wish to extend a warm welcome to both John and Louis and look forward to a productive relationship between the DRSG and the new board at DRFC. We’d also like to thank both Terry Bramall and Dick Watson for all their hard work and investment since joining the club in 2006.

If you’d like to join the Doncaster Rovers Supporters Group please fill in the form below, it’s completely free of charge and allows Doncaster Rovers fans to have their voice heard.


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The Ryan King – John Ryan DRFC – Louis Tomlinson

The Ryan King - John Ryan and Louis Tomlinson

The Ryan King

By Wesley Grimes

I was too young to properly remember 97-98. I have vague memories of being stood in the Main Stand with my Dad while he vollied vitriol at the directors box. The whole season was a blur. However one thing sticks in my mind. As we left the ground after the Colchester game my Dad informed me that would be the last time I ever saw a game at Belle Vue. I didn’t understand and wanted to stop whatever it was that made my Dad look so despondent.

The next few years saw something amazing happen at Rovers. A voice for the club came forward when the F.A., the Council and the people of Doncaster had turned their back on this embarrassment of a club. A larger than life character who banged the Rovers drum harder than anyone, who could talk for hours about the club just as passionately as any fan and who had an insatiable appetite for success, determined to put Doncaster Rovers back in the limelight. I’m talking about John Ryan of course. Someone I have idolised my whole life as the saviour of my club. I will never forget those words my Dad said as we trudged back home. I’ve no doubt in my mind that if it wasn’t for John Ryan they’d have rang true.

Unfortunately my Dad never got to see Rovers back in the league, diagnosed with a Brain Tumour a few years later he missed the opportunity to see the ‘Ziggers’ as he called them return to the football league. I’m not ashamed to say I wept at Stoke when the crowd blasted out ‘Are you watching Richardson?’. It caught me again at our return at Leyton Orient as we left Brisbane Road singing ‘Rovers are back’. Its romantic, and a little silly to some, but football can give you a sense of identity and local pride (when lets face it, Doncaster didn’t have much else to be proud of). All this may not have been achieved if it wasn’t for one man’s determination to make it happen.

His launch of a ‘quid a kid’ at Belle Vue heralded a new age for the club and the start or rebuilding a new generation. Almost all of my friends who attended those games in the Conference still attend now, even if we can’t get there as much as we’d like.

I, like many, have had the occasional ‘head in hands’ moment with John Ryan; I cringed at the ‘Going4it’ campaign and took some heavy flack from my friends when he launched his ‘tides have turned’ rant about the Sheffield clubs. Johns passion, sometimes naïve ambition and often absurdity makes him a loveable character – a man who might not have completely funded our success out of his pocket, but his voice and football guided decision making certainly crafted it. Not many chairmen in English football actually genuinely love their club as much as JR did, and his love and passion seems to nourish the sense of ‘belief’ amongst the fans and the players (who all speak very highly of him) in a way no other could. He stood out from most other chairmen always wanting to go one step further by whatever means he could. The ‘Experiment’ as an example, where he perhaps felt forced into improvising with our limited resources and brought in names from levels of football we could never have dreamed of! Granted it backfired tremendously but was a risk that could have meant the club not just maintaining its Championship status but also pushing for Premiership glory, in my opinion one worth taking.

I am honoured to say we had a club being run by a supporter first, chairman second approach, a man who you would see shouting and gesturing just like I would at a poor refereeing decision. I’ve no doubt in my mind John Ryans mood would be heavily influenced by the Rovers result, just the same as my Dads would all those years ago.

There’s no denying that Rovers have become a much more professional operation since Terry Brammall and Dick Watson have come on board and I’m sure its something John Ryan will acknowledge and strive to maintain and I wouldn’t hope to take away anything from the contributions of any of our board members.

However I for one cannot wait for those outrageous expectations back, those angry rants to the press when a decision hasn’t gone our way, those long walks round the pitch while the fans sing his name and most of all, the flash of those big white teeth as he starts again at the forefront of the merry go round that is Doncaster Rovers.

Welcome back Sir John Ryan!