Coming up on Saturday we have the world famous Doncasterlona, and you may possibly recall we drew with them at the Keepmoat back in September, Baily Cargill equalising with just two minutes to go as he skipped through the Donny defence to give us out first point of the season. I am pleased to say that 32 year old Doncaster Rovers fan Daniel Pearson aka 18Dapper took up our challenge to sit in the hot seat and give us an insight into Donny Rovers.
Another cracking read, so many thanks Daniel and good luck good for the rest of the season….by the way we are impressed with your relegation predictions, they look good to us.
Can you tell us a little-known fact about your club?
Doncaster Rovers hold the record for most wins in a season (33, Third Division North, 1946-47 season: final record P42 W33 D6 L3). Doncaster Rovers also hold the polar opposite record for the most defeats in a season (34, Third Division, 1997-98 season: final record P46 W4 D8 L34).
We have spoken to fans from many clubs this season regarding how clubs have compensated those that have purchased season tickets this year and last, how has your club compensated fans?
Any fan that bought a season ticket has been given free access to all home games on iFollow and the club is planning something that is yet to be announced with all season ticket holders. Last season we were offered refunds for the few games towards the end of the campaign which we missed but the vast majority chose to give their refund amount to the club which went towards the infrastructure.
In December fans were allowed back into some grounds with reduced attendances, how did your club go about allocating tickets?
Unfortunately Doncaster Rovers did not allow any fans through the turnstiles since all of this began back in 2020 so we don’t know how the club would approach the allocation tickets with reduced capacity. I would assume season ticket holders would be put into some sort of ballot and chosen at random. Hopefully the roadmap to normality works and we can all be back in the stadiums supporting our respective clubs across the country next season without the need for some people missing out due to reduced capacities.
How has the season gone for you so far, as expected, better, or a bit underwhelming?
It has been a funny old season, as it normally is as a Doncaster fan. We started the season under Darren Moore who had a very particular playing style and team shape. We would play out from the back, often putting ourselves under unnecessary pressure. More often than not though the football was fluid and I could see what Darren was implementing at the club.
Darren brought in a lot of talent through the loan market at the start of the season and these players have performed well throughout their time at the club. We then lost our captain, and arguably best player Ben Whiteman, in the January transfer window to Championship side PNE but recruited well with the fee received. Doncaster were in a strong position, on a great run of form, top two within our sights with games in hand. Speculation surrounding Darren and the Sheffield Wednesday job was spoken about in January also, but then things went quiet on that front for a while. Then February happened. A pivotal month for us this season where we struggled to find any kind of form and we started to lose our grip on the strong position the start of the season had put us in. Then the news came out that Darren had left Doncaster to manage local rivals Sheffield Wednesday, which has not sat well with the vast majority of the Doncaster fan base. However, we move on in football, players and managers come and go but it is us, the fans, which stick it out through everything.
Andy Butler was quickly announced as the interim manager until the end of the season. A local lad, brought up in Doncaster with the club at heart. For me he has a free hit at this, he can bring his own style in and hopefully it works and keeps us in the hunt for top 2. If it doesn’t work and we have to endure the lottery of the playoffs it will still be seen as a positive season. Worst case scenario is we fizzle out completely and fall to mid table mediocrity, the blame will no doubt fall on Darren’s door step if that happens.
Andy has started well, breathing new life into the team. The players are starting to express themselves a little more and hopefully that continues. Injuries are hindering Andy at the minute with key players being side lined. Once these are back in contention I think the positive results will start to return.
What has been the best result and the worst so far this season?
20 October 2020 – Doncaster 4 – 1 Ipswich (A great team performance towards the start of the season. Ipswich came to the Keepmoat occupying top spot and were looking worthy of that position at the time. Expectations weren’t too high going in to the game but what a performance! It was one of those games where everything clicked into place. Passing with intent, moving through the thirds quickly and causing Ipswich trouble at every opportunity. We seemed to have put a marker of intent down to the rest of the league with that result and pushed on from there, just a shame the form deserted us through February).
13th February 2021 – Sunderland 4 – 1 Doncaster (One of the worst defensive displays from a Doncaster team in many a year. The simplicity of Charlie Wykes first headed goal I could forgive and understand to a certain extent. For some reason though our defence made the same mistake 4 times. A 30 minute hattrick gave us a mountain to climb, we got back into it in the second half, then allowed Wyke the same time and space to punish us for a fourth time. The day was summed up with 2 penalty misses by the Rovers too).
Who has been your best player so far this season, and perhaps another player we should keep an eye on?
Best player – Reece James – Reece has been utilised in so many different positions this season to cover gaps in the squad and has excelled in all of them. Naturally a LB he’s been used at LM, CDM, CAM and has popped up at the sharp end of the field too notching 7 goals. Great on defensive duties and can damage a team attacking too. One to watch for me and I’ll be surprised to see him in a Rovers shirt next season.
One to watch – John Bostock – Brought in on a free transfer in January and John has filled the boots Ben Whiteman on the left. John picked up a slight groin pull recently so will hopefully be back fit for the encounter against MK Dons. His range of passing is a level above and he shows his class with nice little intricate touches and movement. He can dictate the pace of a game but seems to be doing everything in slow motion. He finds so much time and space on the ball which for me shows the ability he has on the pitch. Give him too long on the ball and he will find the killer pass behind any back line.
Where do you see your club in the league table at the end of the season?
This is a tough one. Darren has laid some good foundations but injuries are hurting Andy at this moment in time. Fingers crossed key players return fitter and hungrier and help us across the line. I can see a push for top 2 as any team can beat any team in this league, but I can also see things not going our way and us falling into mid table, so 1st-12th but I will stick my neck out and say our final position will be 5th.
Have you ever been to Stadium MK, if so, what was your impression of it?
Unfortunately not. I was planning on making the trip for what was the last game our fans saw live last season but circumstance prevented it. As so many people try to do, the 92 is a goal of mine so I will hopefully visit Stadium MK soon.
What player do you fear the most in the MK Dons team?
I have to go with Cameron Jerome. 12 goals and 4 assists at the time of writing shows he still has it at 34 years old. That experience is vital at this level and with that eye for goal our defence will have to be on guard.
Who is your tip for promotion and relegation?
Promotion: 1st Peterborough, 2nd Sunderland – 3rd Hull, 4th Lincoln, 5th Doncaster, 6th Oxford. Got to go Donny to win the playoffs. J
Relegation: 24th AFC Wimbledon, 23rd Rochdale, 22nd Swindon, 21st Plymouth. Plymouth are in a sticky bit of form lately and I think they could get dragged into it if they’re not careful.
Thank you for a superb interview, and now the important bit, your match prediction?
I think Rovers will just edge it in a tight affair and win 2-1.