Doncaster Rovers

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Doncaster Rovers are one of the football league’s longest serving clubs, having plied most of their trade in the third and fourth tiers of English Football.

In the early years The Hoops spent most of its infant life between the Midlands League and Division Three, and were historically involved in the longest ever match in a cup tie against Stockport County.

The game went to a second leg in which after extra time the teams were level at 2-2. The referee decided the game would continue until one team had scored another goal, and some 203 minutes later the game was only stopped as darkness closed in. Stories persist of fans going home to have tea and returning to the ground to carry on watching the tie.

In the end a third leg was required, in which Doncaster came out victors with a 4-0 victory.

Turning professional back in 1885, the yoyo club reached the peak of their footballing powers only a few years ago.

The Dons rise to power began when new owner John Ryan took over, who invested heavily to ensure the club returned to the football league.

And In 2003, a playoff victory saw The Hoops climb out of the conference into League Two, and claimed the title the following year to secure double promotions.

In 2007 the club moved into its new home. Owner Ryan managed to secure a lease for the Keepmoat Stadium, a modern 15,000 capacity all seater stadium that cost £32 million to build, and from this point onwards Doncaster continued to make strides through the leagues.

Another playoff victory against Leeds United at Wembley the following year saw the club reach The Championship for the first time in its history, helped in main by the firepower of Billy Sharp as they achieved solid mid table finishes in the first two years at this level.

However Doncaster’s fortunes took a turn for the worse in during the 2010/11 season, marginally staving off relegation by finishing 21st, but last season saw ‘Donny’ finish bottom of The Championship, registering just eight wins all season and being relegated back to League One.

But under the stewardship of manager Dean Saunders, Doncaster have made a bright start this season, and at the time of writing are sat third in the table.

Working on a tight budget, Saunders has managed to build a squad that looks capable of recapturing the form that saw the Yorkshire side rise through the leagues only a few years ago.

“We’re way over the budget with the 12 players we do have,” Saunders told BBC Radio Sheffield.

“Just those players put us £1m over, something has got to give.”

He added: “To get the budget down that means players leaving but then that means having to sign even more players.

It’s hard to sign 15 or 16 players in one go and expect them all to gel but it’s been done.

“I’ve been in this situation before, I know what’s expected and I know what to do. It’s going to be tough but fingers crossed things turn out right.”

The most noticeable departure this summer was that of former Liverpool and Bolton Wanderers star El-Hadji Diouf, had had proved a shining light during the torrid 2011/12 season.

However, Saunders has been savvy with his purchases, signing the likes of Robbie Blake, Billy Paynter, David Cotterill and former Chelsea youngster Michael Woods to help add quality to his squad.

And if recent victories against Carlisle, Portsmouth and Nott’s County are anything to go by, this could be the year that Doncaster Rovers once again see themselves challenging rivals Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday as the top dogs of current Yorkshire football.

 

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