Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Doncaster Rovers - Quietly Dangerous

6 years. That’s all it took. From the Conference to the Championship. It’s not normally that easy.  They’d gone from playing against full-time postman to finishing above former European Cup champions. Doncaster Rovers’ rapid rise up the English football pyramid is one of the greatest recent achievements any team has experienced.

Yet, it is very rarely focused on by media sources. However, this is a testament to the Yorkshire based club. They are now considered a Championship club, not the over-achievers that the league history would suggest, they belong there. They belong amongst the likes of Nottingham Forest, Leeds United and Leicester City rather than Forest Green, Southport and Kettering whom they were playing regularly less than a decade ago.

In charge of Doncaster’s recent climb has been Sean O’Driscoll. The former Bournemouth manager was appointed after Dave Penney left, thinking he has taken the club as far as it could go. How wrong he was – Doncaster Rovers were in League One at the time. O’Driscoll, in his first full season, earnt the club its first major honour; The Johnston’s Paint Trophy, but things would soon get even better.

With a new stadium built Doncaster now seemed to be building for the future. They were finally away from The Belle Vue stadium. The Keepmoat, where they moved into, could hardly have been any more different. A fully enclosed, modern, 15,000 all seater stadium meant the tatty terracing of Belle Vue was a now a distant memory. It symbolised the club’s new found ambition and the turgid non-league days were a long way off for Doncaster Rovers.


The stadium wasn’t the only thing to get excited in the 2007-2008 season though. A promotion campaign was even more thrilling. Wembley was the scene, Leeds were the opposition. Two Yorkshire rivals in a battle for promotion. Doncaster were to come out on top. It announced the arrival of another club in the footballing county to rival Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United and Huddersfield.

Into the Championship, expected to struggle, Doncaster achieved a solid mid-table finish first time round. A finish that was beyond most fans expectations, after-all they hadn’t spent vast amounts. Yet, Sean O’Driscoll has something special at Doncaster and this has been the basis to their success. O’Driscoll epitomises Doncaster. Quiet and steady he doesn’t attract media attention but just runs a football club; he does the job of a football manager. He does the job brilliantly too.


Credit must also go the chairman, John Ryan. Without spending millions, risking the financial status of the club, he has developed the foundations of a flourishing club. A breath of fresh-air in a footballing nation where money seems to be the over-riding factor in being successful, Doncaster are one of the exceptions.

With minimal attention, in superbly quick time, Doncaster Rovers have gone from an un-attractive Yorkshire side to one that stands out above the rest. Heralded as “The Arsenal of the Championship” by some, such is the attractiveness of the passing football that Doncaster encourage, they are achieving results, progressively improving and are now at home in England’s second division. They have transformed from a football team in a position that very few football clubs would have been happy to be in to one that very few football clubs would reject. Doncaster may be comfortable in the Championship for now, but how long will it be before they are building a new home? A new home amongst giants in the Premier League. Doncaster Rovers fans have certainly experienced a roller-coaster ride of late but it may not have reached the summit just yet.

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