Sunday, 4 March 2012

Doncaster Rovers - Keepmoat Stadium

Doncaster Rovers FC
Keepmoat Stadium
Stadium Way

01302 764664
Official Website

Ground Number: 192
Saturday 3rd March 2012
Doncaster Rovers 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion
nPower Championship


1: The club was established in 1879 by Albert Jenkins, a fitter at Great Northern Railway. He gathered some friends to play their first ever match - a game against Yorkshire Deaf & Dumb Institute. Despite taking a 4-0 lead, they ended up drawing 4-4. The club didn't have a name at that point, but on the way back from this game, they stopped for a few pints at the Hall Cross pub and came up with the name that the club has kept to this day.

2:  Rovers moved into their current Keepmoat home in 2007. This replaced the dilapidated Belle Vue. Though once a glorious 40,000 venue when it opened, decay and ever-tightening safety regulations meant that it had around a 7,000 capacity when they came to leave. Prior to this, Doncaster played at the Intake Stadium up until 1915 when the army commandeered the ground for World War 1> when football resumed in 1920, they played at Bennetthorpe for 2 years before moving into Belle Vue. Amazingly, the old wooden main stand saw service at all three grounds before finally being retired in 1985 following the Bradford City fire.

3:  The club has spent the vast majority of its time in the Football League. After sporadic membership in the early 1900s, Doncaster became more permanent members in 1923. They would remain up until 1998 when a catastrophic season saw them relegated to the Conference. They'd return here in 2003 after 5 seasons away. That 1998 finish of 24th in the bottom tier remains their worst finish, with their best, 7th in the second tier came in 1902. In more modern times, the club enjoyed a respectable 12th place in the Championship as recently as 2010.

4:  Those wilderness years in non-league were spent in the Midland League for much of their early history - finishes ranging from league winners in 1897 to 17th in 1897. When they were relegated to the Conference in 1998, they initially started with a disappointing 16th place finish before improving and eventually going up in 2003 after a 3rd place finish and a penalty victory over Dagenham & Redbridge in the playoff final.

5: The aforementioned 1997/98 season was a complete disaster. Doncaster had to wait until the 2nd December for their first win, a 2-1 home victory over Chester City. They'd win just four times all season, losing a record 34 games out of 46. The -83 goal difference and 113 goals conceded, was not helped by having the former lottery salesman at Stockport County and owner's puppet Mark Weaver in charge for much of the season. Defeats to Cardiff City (7-1) and Leyton Orient (8-0) summed up the season as did an attendance of 580 for a game against Rochdale. The real villain of the peace was owner Ken Richardson who had already been banned from horse racing and bankrupted non-league Bridlington Town before turning up at Doncaster. In 1995, he paid a former SAS man to burn down the main stand in a faked insurance claim. The botched attempt was more like the work of Frank Spencer than James Bond - as well as being unsuccessful, the agent also left his mobile phone at the scene, with a call traced back to the owner. This is just part of the story, you can read more HERE and watch the below Youtube video for much more.

6:  In the FA Cup, the club have reached the 5th Round on a number of occasions. The last of those was way back in 1956 when they lost 2-0 to Tottenham Hotspur. They reached the 4th Round as recently as 2009, losing to Aston Villa after a replay.

7:  In the League Cup, Doncaster Rovers are twice Quarter Finalists - losing 7-2 to Tottenham Hotspur in 1979 and 3-1 on penalties to Arsenal in 2006.

8:  Doncaster Rovers won the Football League Trophy in 2007, beating Bristol Rovers 3-2 at Cardiff's Millenium Stadium. They can also count two Conference League Cups to their name as well as four Sheffield Senior Cups and seven Sheffield County Cups.

9:  Famous fans for Doncaster Rovers include One Direction's Louis Tomlinson, TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson and magician Paul Daniels.

10: Famous players & managers for the club include comedian Charlie Williams, Billy Bremner, Dean Saunders and Joe Kinnear.


I had previously been to Doncaster's Keepmoat Stadium just to take pictures. The club were really friendly, letting me in to take pictures without issues. But once I had decided to do the 92, I had to go back for a revisit. The ideal opportunity arose when Wycombe were playing up at Scunthorpe - meaning I could get petrol money keeping down my costs down, dropping my mates off at Scunthorpe before going to the Doncaster game. On the day Paul was working till 9am, so I left early and got a breakfast sub in town, plus a paper and a drink for the journey. I got up to work at 8.55am, expecting him to be a few minutes early if anything. It was 9.20 before he emerged! The journey up went pretty smoothly. I had originally planned to stop at 5 grounds, but our late departure scaled this back a bit. Still, I got to see 3 good grounds on the way up at Worksop Town, Retford United and Gainsborough Trinity.

I dropped Paul off at Scunthorpe's ground at about 1.20, before heading to Doncaster. Due to problems on the M18, I had to come off a junction early if I didn't want to face a 40-minute delay, so I had to travel the last 10 or so miles on local roads. I got to the ground and parked up at a local factory for the reasonable price of £3. After a 10 minute walk to the ground and a quick look around the club shop, it was time to go in. I saw a bar but opted not to go in as I thought I could get a drink in the ground. But they only did Carlsberg and Tetley's which I didn't fancy. The Keepmoat was a nice ground but must have one of the loudest tannoys in Football with really noisy music played at some points, see this Youtube video of the halftime scores being read out to get an idea...

There was an amusing exchange between some Brighton fans in an executive box with Doncaster fans slinging such remarks as "Sit down you Southern c**t" and then to the bloke in charge of the commercial department at the Keepmoat (after the Brighton fans had been told to sit inside "Why did you sell the box to Brighton fans? Why don't you give it to people from Doncaster! As for the game, it saw the hosts have a lot of possession but high flying Brighton took the lead on 20 minutes. It was to be a former Wycombe trialist setting up a current Wycombe player for the opener. Liam Bridcutt who we had stupidly let go signed for Brighton a few weeks later and went on to net them £4m when he signed for Sunderland. Anyway, his pass set up Craig Mackail-Smith who netted from close range after being left unmarked. Doncaster equalised on 78 minutes - El Hadji Diouf scoring a penalty after his initial shot was handballed by visiting defender Joe Mattock.

After the game, I drove back to Scunthorpe to pick up Paul, but not before stopping to take pictures of Bottesford Town - one of the grounds I had missed on the way up, and also filling the car up with diesel. The journey home was not so smooth. The road people in their infinite wisdom had decided to completely close the M18 for a couple of junctions due to roadworks and so instead of a quick route onto the M1, I had to go down the A1 all the way to Leicester, which with jams and slow moving traffic on that as well, was really frustrating. And to make things worse, Wycombe had been well-beaten 4-1 at Scunthorpe, in another dreadful performance. I was glad I went to Doncaster then. We eventually got home at 9.15 after a good run down the motorway and ended up getting back not long after the coaches, not bad considering we left an hour later. I bought a couple of cans from a local shop to have before and during Match of the Day, before drifting off to sleep as I was up early for work again.


Originally, I’d intended to revisit Doncaster during the 2016/17 season. I’d gone as far as arranging to see a concert in Leeds in the evening and booking the required trains to Doncaster. But Wycombe went on a run of poor performances, the nadir being a 2-0 home defeat at home to Barnet. Before I’d even got home from that game, I’d explored my options and booked an extra train ticket to Goole, where a good time was had. I wasn’t going to miss out on my pub crawl though, Doncaster had a number of excellent pubs and so I still met my Doncaster pal Matty for a few pints before heading off to my game. I was glad when the fixtures came out and the away game was on a Saturday. I had brief thoughts of booking trains, but in the end, I decided to book on the Independent supporters club coach. My initial hope was that they would stop near Doncaster so I could go on another drinking session. As is turned out, we didn’t, stopping some 25 miles away in a place called Duckmanton, near Chesterfield. I needn’t have worried about going thirsty though, as The Arkwright Arms looked an excellent establishment - good food, 10 real ciders and 6 perries according to the website. Coach and ticket were booked and I spent the preceding week really looking forward to it.

I had a poor night’s sleep before the game, only getting around 5 hours interrupted shut-eye. I was already up when my alarm went at 7.15, getting dressed, having breakfast and walking down the shop to get a paper. I met my Dad at the coach stop at 8.15 and soon enough we were on our way. I was pleased to get a double seat to myself and cracked on with starting my blog before reading my paper. Various music and videos kept me company on the way up, but by 11.40 we were at our pre-match pub. A couple of new ciders were tried, namely Mr Whiteheads Hampshire Perry and Virtual Orchard Hop In. I also had a pint of my favourite Black Dragon Cider, all this in convivial company while watching the Haverhill derby in the FA Cup on the BBC website. It was a good stop and at 1.45 we left for the ground. 35 minutes later we were there and it was an absolute pleasure to head off to meet Ben and Andy, two lads who I’ve not seen for ages. My other mate, Matty couldn’t make it, so I headed to the club shop, buying a pen and a fanzine for a quid each.

From there it was to the away entrance where the relaxed atmosphere continued. I met my Dad in the ground and posted a few updates on social media. Gareth Ainsworth had adopted a very defensive line up and one of our new signings, Bryn Morris on loan from Shrewsbury was starting. He didn’t really see much of the ball and it was goalless at the break, the hosts enjoying the better of the shots on the possession. Wycombe were not out of it though, but we were relying on chances on the break, especially from set pieces. Wycombe withstood pressure well, but it finally gave in the 55th minute, Malik Wilks tucking into the bottom right-hand corner from inside the area. Wycombe really had no idea going forward, despite seeing a bit of the ball. Doncaster sealed the game on 76 minutes, a well worked ball from a free kick saw Joe Wright fire past a static Wycombe defence. It was 3-0 a couple of minutes later, more laughable defending saw James Coppinger take advantage after we lost track of the ball again. It was most disappointing to collapse so badly, but the scoreline was harsh on Wycombe and maybe should have only been a two-goal margin. It wasn't a happy journey home but I made practical use of it by uploading my blog.


THE KEEPMOAT STADIUM is a smart modern ground, built in 2007. With a 15,000 capacity, it is ideal for Doncaster Rovers. 
The views and legroom are excellent.  It is pretty well designed too - you can get a good atmosphere going in there if you want, and despite some noise from the Brighton fans, the home support was mainly quiet. But I know a fair few of them, and they are a friendly bunch. Outside the stadium, quite a neat thing is a separate pitch with a small stand and athletics track - presumably used for some reserve games.

The tea bars are pretty poor, they had sold out of Yorkshire Wraps and had a very limited range of drinks. There is a retail park as well, as well as several food vans, but due to me getting there quite late, I didn't get a chance to explore properly. I heard that there was a bar at the ground that admitted away fans but have not had the chance to explore further.

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