Cheadle? Bradman? Henley? No, for us the most famous Don is Doncaster Rovers – our East Coast mainline pals from South Yorkshire. It is almost to our lasting regret that we haven’t managed got the marketing team onto the A1/railway line derby thing. Not sure what we’d call it though. El Trafico? Maybe not. To be honest, why would we mark it? Us and Donny have very little beef with each other. Our presence in each other’s company is more by coincidence than design. And it’s been the same case in League One, League Two, and the Nationwide Conference.
Doncaster Rovers: The Facts
Stadium Way, Lakeside, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, DN4 5JW
It should come as no great shock to learn that Donny’s roots lie in the railway; formed in 1879 by a fitter who worked at the town’s Great Northern Railway works. After finding their feet in league and cup competitions, the club secured a place in the Football League in 1901 and took to it like a duck to water. In fact, their debut season ended with them finishing seventh. To date, they’ve never finished higher in the pyramid. Of course, that wasn’t enough for them suits at Football League HQ; the following season, they failed to be re-elected back.
So, the club had to drag themselves off to the Midland League for a bit. That hiatus came to an end in 1923 when the Football League let them back in; Donny being plonked into Division Three North. Three times on either side of World War Two, the club returned to the second tier. And three times they failed to make it stick. In fact, 1958 would be the last time (before 2012) they’d play at such a height in the pyramid. The following years saw them become – at best – incredibly consistent; swapping Division Three for Division Four (and vice-versa) every now and then.
Why do we know Donny?
Not much happened between 1958 and 1998 if we’re being totally honest. But we can’t end on the understatement that “Donny were relegated to the Conference in 1998”. We’d be robbing you of an incredible story that led to them plunging out of the Football League for the first time in nearly 80 years. And it all starts in the early 1990s when Ken Richardson took the helm. Richardson is a man that police did not have kind words about – and we daresay you’ll be told the same by any Donny fan you’re prepared to ask.
It goes like this. Richardson wanted to replace Belle Vue with a new ground. The council said no. So, it saw Donny’s chairman take the unprecedented step of conspiring to burn the place down. The aim? To sell the stadium site to an opportune developer who’d pay Richardson handsomely (no doubt). It didn’t happen that way. Richardson landed a four-year jail term. But, for Rovers, the damage on the pitch was done. The club turned in the worst-ever campaign seen in the Football League; four wins, 20 points, 113 goals conceded, and -83 goal difference.
It might just evoke memories of our dismal 2019-20 effort. Luckily, we’d avoided such infamy by the time everything packed in due to Covid. We had just three wins from 37 games – but we’d mustered 25 points and only let in 47. We will take whatever small wins from that season we can. Of course, talking about that means we jump ahead from the time we first met Donny. The 1998-9 season marked the start of a relationship that’s been on-off ever since. Us and them being in League Two together in 2022? Just the latest chapter…
How to get to Doncaster Rovers – Travel Information – Distance: 133 miles
Doncaster ranks as one of the easiest journeys for Stevenage supporters. But, while it’s pretty much straight up the A1, you still need to allow around three hours to complete the trip at 131 miles.
At Junction 35 of the A1(M), exit for the eastbound M18 (Doncaster and Scunthorpe). It’s less than a mile before you’ll be leaving at Junction 3 for White Rose Way (A6182). Head over one roundabout and cross the railway; taking the third exit at the next roundabout.
After a further 0.2 miles, take the first exit for Stadium Way and you’re on the final stretch.
The stadium has 1,000 parking spaces up for grabs, which should be more than enough for when Boro’ are in town. In total, 60 of these are reserved for disabled supporters and must be booked in advance of matchday. To park here will cost you £5.
On the nearby industrial park, however, there are a number of smart firms who will offer you a parking space at around £3 or £4 per car. Do this at your own risk, of course.
Services to: LONDON KINGS CROSS; STEVENAGE
Doncaster’s station is 1.5 miles from the ground and it’s walkable in around 30 minutes. Leave the station and head south on Trafford Way (A630), going over two roundabouts. When you reach the third, however, take the third exit for White Rose Way (A618).
Take a slight left after 0.2 miles for Decoy Bank N – and continue along until you reach Middle Bank. Turn left here; shortly afterwards, turning right onto Stadium Way. By now, you should see the Keepmoat Stadium right ahead of you.
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