Peaks, Troughs & Eternal Optimism
Dark skies over Donny…but the sun will always threaten to shine through
Every post at present starts with lamentation of another defeat, but it doesn’t always have to be this way.
Doncaster Rovers…what does it mean to us? Yes, it has been dream after dream, largely uninterrupted, for nearly 15 years now at this club. Four promotions, a trophy win and a handful of truly amazing days out – Stoke, Cardiff, Wembley, Brentford – but it can’t last forever.
Football is cyclical in many ways. For all the spells of success a team may enjoy, they will also spend long periods in the doldrums, in mediocrity, suffering through the pain in the hope that the good can return. Even teams sitting high up like Manchester United and Chelsea have had to suffer through years of failure before enjoying rampant success. Chelsea went 50 years between league titles before Jose Mourinho and Roman Abramovich teamed up to take them to the summit of English football in 2005.
Teams who fall on truly hard times, who face or even succumb to expulsion and bankruptcy come back to taste the delights of success once more. We Rovers fans know a thing or two about that. Hereford played in the division we occupy today, League One, as recently as 2009 but last season went out of business and had to start anew. Less than a year on, their fans will get to enjoy a memorable day out at Wembley when they meet Morpeth Town in the F.A. Vase Final on May 22nd. A deserved reward for long suffering fans, and something they will have never witnessed before – their beloved Hereford turning out on the hallowed Wembley turf.
Our own club know exactly what this feeling is all about…almost cast into the ether of nothingness in the late 90’s, we lost our league place and pretty much everything that we could. Yet we came back, and the fans who suffered through all of that trauma got to smile in the sunshine again. Multiple times in fact. Indeed only four years ago, almost to the day, we lost 2-0 at Southampton courtesy of two goals from DRFC legend Billy Sharp, on our way to relegation from the Championship. Several players were snapped at a nightclub on the eve of the fixture, and fans cried that the players just didn’t care about the cause of the club. Does that sound at all familiar? Despite that and the inevitable drop into the division below, we came back and a year on enjoyed one of our greatest days in over 130 years of existence, so loss of a league place does not mean we lose it all.
So even if this season ends in the ignominy of relegation, a second in three seasons and our first drop back to the fourth tier since our unlikely championship triumph of 2004, it isn’t the end. I dare say most if not all Rovers fans who read this article will continue to attend games at the Keepmoat and around the country, cheering on our beloved club whether we’re taking on Newcastle and Leeds in the Championship or duking it out with old friends Yeovil and York further down the pyramid. The Dickov’s, Ferguson’s and Bramall’s of this world will continue to come and go, for better or worse, but we will remain constant.
Yes, I got pretty disheartened by our latest defeat, a 4-1 humiliation away to bottom club Colchester on Good Friday. I threw my arms up, kicked the preverbial cat and tweeted some angry thoughts…but at the end of the day I still got into bed in an old Rovers shirt as I do most nights, and still spent most of this Easter weekend pondering the past, present and future of the club I hold so close to my heart. Tomorrow afternoon we go again, in search of a first win since January 2nd against a Blackpool side in just as much trouble as us down at the foot of the division, and maybe just maybe we can find the will to come out on top and give ourselves a fighting chance.
And if we don’t, if we lose again and ultimately drop down into League Two at the end of next month…nevermind. We can pick over the reasons why this proud club has lost its shine, lost its impetus, but come early August in the midst of the Olympics, after what no doubt will be another summer where the England national team flatter to deceive on their way to a meek Quarter Final exit at the European Championships, we will still head down to Lakeside to cheer on the men in red and white hoops, hoping for three points against Newport, or Forest Green, or even Yeovil.
Because we’re Donny Rovers, and they can’t get rid of us this easily, that’s why.