Doncaster Rovers Football Club is an English football club based in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.
The club was founded in 1879 and turned professional in 1885. Doncaster have spent the majority of their playing history between the third and fourth tiers of the English football league system and are one of four clubs to win the Division 3/League Two title three times.
The club's colours have traditionally been red and white. Their home strip is red and white hoops which has been the main design of the club's home shirt since 2001.
The club was formed in September 1879 by Albert Jenkins, a fitter at Doncaster's Great Northern Railway works in response to the emerging popularity of the game in the nearby city of Sheffield. The team turned professional in 1885 and were first elected to the Football League in 1901, as a replacement for New Brighton Tower. Their first season in the League was precisely the one when Doncaster achieved their highest position ever (7th in the Football League Second Division). They only lasted two seasons in the league before being voted out in favour of local rivals Bradford City due to finishing the 1902 season in the bottom three. They spent the subsequent season in the non-league Midland League. A second attempt, in 1904, lasted only one season with Doncaster finishing bottom with W3 D2 L29, adrift by 12 points, and being voted out once again. They would have to wait until 1923 before playing English league football again, when they were elected to the Football League Third Division North to replace Stalybridge Celtic.
Inter War PeriodEdit
The Club reformed as a limited company after the war in 1919, rejoining the Midland League a year later playing at their new temporary Bennetthorpe Ground. The first two seasons Rovers finished lower-mid table. The third season they moved to Belle Vue, finished runner up and were accepted into the Football League Division 3 North for 1923−24.
The first match back in the Football League was a 0−0 draw against Wigan Borough at Belle Vue on 25 August 1923, with Rovers playing in red tops with white shorts. One of the players in that first match was Rovers legend Tom Keetley who went on to become the Clubs highest scorer with 186 goals in 241 appearances. Doncaster ended the season in 9th place. The next few seasons saw them rise towards the top of the table, then decline towards the bottom, before in the early 1930s finishing consistently near the top and finally becoming Champions in 1934–35. Rovers spent two seasons in Division 2, relegated in 1936−37. However, they did well in the following two seasons before the outbreak of war, being runners up in Division 3 North, with only the champions being promoted at that time.
Post War - Late 90sEdit
Doncaster Rovers were involved in the longest ever football match, against Stockport County at Edgeley Park on 30 March 1946. The match was the second in a Division Three (North) two-legged cup tie and, after 30 minutes of extra time, was deadlocked at 2–2 (also the score in the first leg). After the referee had sought advice from the authorities, it was decided that the game would carry on until one team scored. However, after 203 minutes, and with darkness closing in, the game was finally stopped. Stories abound of fans leaving the game, going home for their tea, and coming back to watch the end of the game. The replay, at Doncaster, was won by Rovers 4–0, goals coming from Steven Bain, Billy Mortimer and a late double from Graeme Dunne. In 1946–47 Doncaster set a record for the most games won in a league season (33), when they won the Third Division North title. Harry Gregg kept goal for Doncaster in the 1950s, and was sold to Manchester United in December 1957 for £23,500. At the time, he was the most expensive goalkeeper in the world. He went on to help save lives in the Munich air disaster and was a regular goalkeeper for Northern Ireland. The late Billy Bremner, who achieved fame for his playing career with Leeds United and Scotland, managed Doncaster twice, his final spell ending in November 1991 – six years before his death.
During the early 90s, Ken Richardson, who was later described by detectives as "the type that would trample a two-year-old child to pick up a 2p bit"  took over as the majority shareholder of the club. He ploughed a lot of money into Doncaster Rovers with one thing on his mind, a new stadium. When he was refused a new stadium by the council he soon lost interest. Richardson hired three men to torch Belle Vue and planned to sell the ground to developers. The attempt put Richardson in jail for four years, ruined Belle Vue and Rovers were edging closer to relegation. In 1998 Rovers dropped out of the league with a −83 goal difference. He withdrew his financial backing and as a result the club was subject to an administration order. The better players left to ease some of the financial burden but unfortunately, the players who were left at Rovers were just not up to the task. The fans blamed Richardson for effectively destroying Rovers and even a funeral was held at Belle Vue on the last game of the 1997/98 season complete with coffin along Carr House Road. Just weeks after Rovers were relegated, Richardson was found guilty of trying to set fire to the Rovers ground, apparently hoping to pay off the clubs debts with the insurance money.
John Ryan StewardshipEdit
John Ryan took over the Club just before the beginning of the 1998−99 season with a commitment to invest heavily in the club. Having aspirations of returning it to the second tier where he had seen them when he was a boy, he stated he would do this and build a new stadium within ten years, both of which he went on to achieve within the ten years. Doncaster found their best form in 50 years in the 2000's.
After five seasons in the Conference League, under the helm of manager Dave Penney the club returned to the fourth tier (known at the time as Division Three) after winning the 2003 Conference Play-Off final. In 2003–04, the first season they were back in the Football League, Rovers achieved promotion to the third tier as Champions. Doncaster were the first team to win the Fourth Division/Third Division (fourth level) Championship three times, in 1966, 1969, and 2004. Football League rules state that any team who wins a trophy three times can keep it. When Rovers tried to retain ownership of the actual Third Division trophy, the Football League claimed that Rovers could not keep the trophy because the league names had changed from Fourth to Third Division, and so they had not won that particular league three times. Doncaster were the last team to win Division Three before it was renamed League Two.
In 2005–06, Doncaster beat two Premiership teams in the League Cup – Manchester City and Aston Villa. They reached the quarter finals of the competition where they met Arsenal. They went ahead in normal time and Arsenal equalised, and in extra time Rovers went up for a second time but Gilberto Silva equalised in injury time and the North London side went on to win on penalties.
A new stadium was completed in December 2006. Doncaster's first game at the new Keepmoat Stadium was against Huddersfield Town on New Year's Day, 2007 and the first goal scored at the Stadium was by Mark McCammon.
On 1 April 2007, Doncaster Rovers travelled with their new manager to the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff to play Bristol Rovers in the Football League Trophy final. Playing in front of over 59,000 people, this was Rovers' first major cup final in the club's history. They got off to the perfect start when a tap in from Jonathan Forte and brilliant finish from Paul Heffernan put Rovers 2–0 up within the first 5 minutes. However, after a brave fight back from Bristol, the game finished 2–2, so it went to extra time. In the second half of extra time a Sean Thornton corner was headed home by skipper Graeme Lee who had come forward from his central defensive position. Doncaster held on to claim their first major trophy.
2007–08 proved to be one of the most exciting seasons in Doncaster's history. After a slow start they were in serious contention for a top-six finish for much of the second half of the season. Defeat away at Cheltenham Town on the final day of the season cost them automatic promotion and they finished third, with Nottingham Forest taking 2nd place. After a 0–0 draw away to Southend United in the playoff semi-finals first leg, Rovers beat their opponents 5–1 at home in the second leg including a James Coppinger hat-trick to advance to the League One play-off final at Wembley on Sunday 25 May 2008 where they beat Leeds United 1–0 to move into Football League Championship after a half century absence. A James Hayter headed goal in the 47th minute was enough to secure victory in front of over 75,000 fans at Wembley.
The first half of the 2008–09 season saw Doncaster struggling to adapt to the Championship despite a promising start with an away win over newly relegated Derby County. A long run of bad results saw them bottom of the Championship on 20 December 2008 following a narrow 1–0 defeat to Wolves at home. Rovers managed to turn things around soon after and enjoyed an undefeated run of 8 Championship games, starting with a thrilling 4–2 win at relegation rivals Nottingham Forest on Boxing Day. The win against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday 14 February was especially memorable considering it was the first time Doncaster had defeated the Owls in any league competition. The streak ended at the hands of Swansea City on Saturday 21 February after a 3–1 defeat at the Liberty Stadium. Doncaster Rovers secured their place in the Championship for the 2009–10 season after an emphatic 3–0 win at Home Park against Plymouth Argyle. Doncaster ended their first season in the Championship comfortably in 14th position, finishing above 8 former Premier League teams, including Charlton Athletic, Watford, Crystal Palace and Derby County. The survival was also a major feat, as before the start of that season, they were tipped by many as strong favourites for relegation. Doncaster started the 2009–10 season away at Vicarage Road with a 1–1 draw against Watford. Their first win of the season came at home against Cardiff City 5 games into the season when they won 2–0. Doncaster finished the 2009–10 season marginally better than their first season back in the Championship, finishing two places higher in 12th and earning two more points than the previous season finishing on 60 points. This was despite a promising period towards the end of the season which saw Doncaster close to the play-off places, thanks in part to Sheffield United loanee Billy Sharp who scored 15 goals for Doncaster during his stay. The 2009–10 season's success became a football league record. Having become the first team to be bottom of the table at Christmas, but still managed to survive the drop.
The 2010–11 season proved to be Doncaster's most trying season in the Championship thus far. Despite a club record signing of £1.15 million for Billy Sharp, the season was plagued by injuries to key players, as well as poor form. Doncaster did however manage to ensure their Championship survival, finishing in 21st place, 6 points clear of relegated local rivals Sheffield United and Scunthorpe United. This meant Rovers would spend a fourth successive season in the second tier of English football.
Doncaster Rovers struggled in the 2011–12 season; seven games into the season, Rovers failed to win a game (W0,D1,L6). This led to the sacking of manager Sean O'Driscoll and assistant manager Richard O'Kelly. On 23 September 2011, Dean Saunders was unveiled as the new boss, leaving Wrexham. His reign started unbeaten in three games, with a 1–0 win at home to Crystal Palace followed by an away win at Peterborough and a draw against local rivals Hull. With the controversial help of football agent Willie McKay, Rovers brought in several players in on loans and short term contracts, and on low wages, including El Hadji Diouf, Pascal Chimbonda, Herita Ilunga, Carl Ikeme, Frédéric Piquionne, and Habib Beye. There were even discussions with Robert Pirès and the ex-Real Madrid midfielder Mahamadou Diarra. However, Doncaster were relegated to League One with three games still to play. Many supporters blamed the failure to stay in the Championship on McKay's involvement, others felt it was worth the try. At the end of the 2011–12 season, chairman John Ryan deemed the McKay "experiment" over as it "didn't work" and "wouldn't work in the third tier" anyway.
The squad was rebuilt for the 2012−13 season with 19 players leaving. Expectations were low, but after an average start, Saunders' team ended up firmly in the promotion positions by the end of 2012. On 7 January, Saunders was chosen to fill the vacant managers position at Wolves and on 17 January caretaker manager Brian Flynn was given the permanent managers job till the end of the season with Rob Jones as player coach.
For full list see: Doncaster Rovers Football Club Managers
- Football League One
- Champions: 1934-1935, 1946-1947, 1949-1950
- Runners Up: 1937-1938, 1938-1939
- Play-off Winners: 2007-2008
- Football League Two
- Champions: 1965-1966, 1968-1969, 2003-2004
- Runners Up: 1983-1984
- Promoted: 1980-1981
- Midland Football League
- Champions: 1896-1897, 1898-1899
- Runners Up: 1900-1901, 1922-1923
- Sheffield & Hallamshire County Cup
- 1935-1936, 1937-1938, 1955-1956, 1967-1968, 1985-1986
- Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup
- Highest Overall League Finish: 7th, Division 2, 1901–02 Season
- Record League Victory: 10–0 v Darlington, Division 4, 25 January 1964
- Record Cup Victory: 7–0 v Blyth Spartans, FA Cup First Round, 27 November 1937
- Record Defeat: 0–12 v Small Heath, Division 2, 11 April 1903
- Record Home Attendance at Belle Vue: 37,149 vs Hull City, Division 3 (N), 2 October 1948
- Record Home Attendance at Keepmoat Stadium: 15,001 vs Leeds Utd, League 1, 1 April 2008
- Record League Points: 92, Division 3, 2003–04
- Record League Goals: 123, Division 3 (N), 1946–47
- Record League Goal-scorer: Tom Keetley, 180 league goals, between 1923 and 1929
- Record Goal-scorer: Tom Keetley, 186 goals in all competitions
- Record League Appearances: Fred Emery, 417 league matches
- Record Appearances: Colin Douglas, 444 matches
- Record Appearances, including Wartime League: Syd Bycroft, 501 matches
- Most Caps While at Rovers: Len Graham (14 caps for Northern Ireland)
- Most Capped Player: Neville Southall (92 for Wales)
- Highest League Scorer in a Season: 42, Clarrie Jordan, Division 3 (N), 1946–47
- Most Goals in One Match: 6, Tom Keetley in 7–4 win at Ashington, 1928–29
- Scoring in Most Consecutive Games: 10, Clarrie Jordan 1946–47
- Youngest Player: Alick Jeffrey (15 years, 229 days, 1954)
- Oldest Player: John Ryan (52 years and 11 months, 2003)
- Record Transfer Fee: £1,150,000 to Sheffield United for Billy Sharp
- Record Fee Received: £2,000,000 from Reading for Matthew Mills