By Rob Johnson
Like Rovers, Port Vale have started the league 1 season with three draws and a league cup win against Championship opposition – Burnley in their case. Unlike Rovers, Vale have managed to a score a few actual goals in the process and should be full of confidence after stuffing us both home and away last season by an aggregate score of 6-1.
Vale will be happy with their start to the season as 11 signings brought in during the summer are bound to take a while to gel and they remain unbeaten despite tough away games at Crewe and Swindon. Already off the mark for the Vale is former Rovers loan striker Uche Ikpeazu who will be expecting to start the game on Saturday.
Rovers look desperately short of bodies at the moment with Billy Whitehouse looking out of his depth when coming on against Southend and Paul Dickov will be hoping to see Paul Keegan and Dany N’Guessan available sooner rather than later.
Rovers created chances and looked lively against Leeds and Wigan but they were lacklustre against Bury and downright awful against Southend. The Port Vale game represents a chance to start an unbeaten run and also bring back a bit of positivity still lingering from the cup win over Leeds.
Rovers fans are in no mood for excuses any more, particularly after the misguided decision by the official twitter feed to make a joke about the lack of quality on show against Southend, and anything other than at last a point and a good performance will further turn the Rovers faithful against manager Paul Dickov.
Match Prediction – It is difficult to remain positive after sitting through the Southend game but hopefully that was a blip rather than a sign of things to come. 1-0 to Rovers. Forrester with a wonder strike.
There is a common misconception in the flat cap strewn battle field that is Yorkshire football that Rovers hate Leeds fans. Now of course most Rovers fans brandish a healthy dislike for our West Yorkshire cousins but only in the same way as every other club in the country sings ‘we all hate Leeds scum’. No what we really hate is the huge amount of Leeds ‘fans’ hiding in plain sight in Doncaster. Walking through town in tight fitting, ancient away strips with ‘Bowyer’ on the back. Singing ‘Marching on Together’ in Doncaster’s pubs without a hint of irony. Shaking with white hot indignation about any mention of Turkey yet happily singing songs about the Munich air crash.
The Donny White will defend his position by citing Leeds as his ‘local’ team despite the presence of Rovers, Barnsley, Rotherham, Wednesday, Blades etc etc. He will claim he follows Leeds because his Dad did, completely ignoring the fact that his Dad supported Leeds for the same bullshit reasons. No matter how you spin it, if you are in Doncaster and you support Leeds you do so because your home town club isn’t glamorous enough, isn’t successful enough just isn’t BIG enough (because don’t forget Leeds are a massive club – a massive club that play 33 miles away but still).
There is literally no difference between a Donny white and a Gloucestershire dwelling plastic Man Utd fan. The worst thing about these specimens is when they inevitably beat Rovers again on Thursday night they will crawl out of the woodwork on social media to lord it over the Rovers fans with a smug and condescending comment they have been rehearsing for years on their long suffering wives. Despite having literally nothing to do with the city of Leeds. This is like going to a court case to support a family member, switching sides when it looks like the prosecution is going to win and then flashing wanker signs as your blood is led away in chains.
So where does this leave us for Thursday’s game? Rovers fans can walk out of the Keepmoat stadium proud that we support our local club and our local community. Proud of a club that is OURS. Leeds fans will go back to Doncaster’s villages trying to wash off their sense of shame by being the loudest idiot in the pub. No amount of League cup victories will change that.
Match prediction: We’ll score first and get beat 2-1 but the Black Bank won’t care.
Rovers welcome Middlesbrough to the Keepmoat stadium for their fourth pre season friendly hoping to stay unbeaten going into the first game of the season. New signing Aaron Taylor-Sinclair is likely to feature at left back as Rovers starting XI starts to take shape more and more. Taylor-Sinclair was well thought of at Partick Thistle but his career seems to have stalled at Wigan so it will be interesting to see how he turns out.
Not that you would know it with the complete lack of fanfare but this is also Copps testimonial apparently. It is a shame that one of our best players of the modern era has not been given a proper platform for the fans to show their appreciation with many staying away from the Coppinger legends game due to the price of the ticket. This has been yet another issue that has polarized Rovers fans and left a sour taste in the mouth but today is a chance for the Rovers faithful to show their appreciation to a true legend without loads of teenage girls screaming (unless Neil Taylor takes his top off and starts showing them his Curtis Main tattoo).
For Middlesbrough fans this is an opportunity for them to see Stewart Downing in action for the first time since his return to his hometown club. Downing said he can’t wait to play against Doncaster earlier this week commenting ‘people may think I’m lying but I honestly can’t wait’ – convincing absolutely nobody in the process. Alongside Downing of course will be former Rovers left back ‘Gorgeous’ George Friend who will no doubt get a good reception from the Black Bank after always giving 100% for the red and white hoops.
I would urge all Rovers fans to put aside the controversy about Copps’ testimonial year and use this an opportunity to remember the great times. The Southend hat trick, the Brentford winner, the haircuts…
James Coppinger – Rovers legend.
DRFC fan Rob Johnson gives us his preview of the upcoming game this Sunday when local rivals Scunthorpe travel up the ‘M180’ for what is hoped to be a tasty final fixture.
Rovers latest embarrassment against Notts County now makes it no wins in seven whilst a rejuvinated Scunthorpe have lost just once in eight games and will now finish above Rovers should they win on Sunday – something that would have been unthinkable a few short weeks ago. Indeed to further drive the point home Rovers best player in recent weeks has been Scunthorpe’s Theo Robinson…
I have spoke a lot about recent games being meaningless and on paper the final home game of the season is just that. Dickov has taken it upon himself to start throwing young players in the starting line up seemingly at random, the latest beneficiary being the highly rated Jack McKay.
Whilst blooding products of the youth system is to be encouraged in the right situation is it really appropriate when you have won only two out of your last twelve games and none in seven? Experience is always welcome but what will playing in these games do for the younger players confidence especially in front of hostile and frustrated crowd? And what of the fans who have been asked to pay for the privilege of watching what is essentially a reserve team being comfortably beaten by one of the worst sides in the division in Notts County?
Paul Dickov has rendered the end of the season utterly meaningless on the playing field with his scattershot approach to team selection and failure to motivate his players. The players themselves have contributed to the malaise with timid and at times pathetic showings and the board have taken any sting out of the tail off the field by making it very clear that Dickov’s job is safe no matter what happens. So again on paper this couldn’t be a more meaningless game…
…But luckily football is about the fans, and for the fans Doncaster Rovers vs Scunthorpe United will never be a meaningless game. It is short excited journeys up the M180 and dejected trudges back home. It is Mickey Norburys hat trick and Billy Sharp’s beautiful exposed torso. It is tedious 0-0 draws and stunning 4-3 victories all watched with the same level of tension and passion and bitter rivalry, it is Gregg Blundell wheeling away in jubilation on Boxing Day in front of 2000 people going mental in the Popular Stand, but most of all, above everything else it is OUR derby. So forget about Dickov in or out. Forget about Bramall and Watson. Remember WE are the fans, WE are the club, and there is nothing fucking meaningless about Rovers vs Scunny.
See you next season.
Rob’s prediction: 0-0