Where We Came From: #1 – FGR, Aug. 14, 1999-2000
Updated: Jul 16, 2019
Digging out the programme from my first ever football match for the purposes of an article for popularSTAND (issue #89 on sale this Saturday at the Gillingham game), I thought it was worth sharing the wonders of our Conference days with you all again. We all love a bit of nostalgia, right? Here is what I found when I sat down and read the booklet from that game, the opening match of the 1999/2000 season against Forest Green Rovers at Belle Vue.
Cover to Cover
This was also the era of charismatic chairman John Ryan and his lovely ladies, playing up the quirky fact that he was a successful businessman in the plastic surgery industry. As we can see on the cover, and later on within the pages, John was never too shy to pose with a model or two, and getting them in Doncaster Rovers’ kit of the time was some feat, especially with that ‘Beazer Homes’ logo pasted onto the front of it.
A strong Rovers squad of 17 is listed here, although a fun quirk from this season that isn’t present here is the superstitious removal of the ‘#13’ slot in subsequent issues. Yes, long before Massimo Cellino banned the number 17 from Elland Road, Rovers were skipping that unlucky 13, although this was made easier in the days before dedicated squad numbers for each player. Although his name is spelt wrong here, and intermitently throughout the entire booklet, Ian Duerden was the star of the times for Rovers and he marked this particular game with a hat-trick in a 3-2 comeback win over our opponents. Goalkeeper Andy Warrington and captain Dave Penney would go on to forge lasting legacies at the club as well, whilst stand-out names on the Forest Green line-up include Wayne Hatswell, scorer of perhaps the most fabulous own goal ever seen, and Adie Mings, a striker whose son Tyrone is now a well-known Premier League defender with Bournemouth.
The big question I’d love to have answered is what on earth his other nickname was, presumably something not fit for print. We can only wonder, with little other than his hair colour and toothy smile to go on. This page also included a piece from Mickey Walker, YT manager at the time, discussing the youth squad’s imminent move into High Melton College, where they would live in digs and study alongside their pursuit of a football career. This was clearly a noble endeavour by the club at a time when there wasn’t a lot of money to go around, and on a personal note it enabled my own mother to get to know some of these young lads, including future first teamers like Green and Jamie Price, whilst working on the switchboard there.
Elsewhere in the magazine, some nice little snippets of Rovers’ well-remembered past include photos from the testimonial held that summer for former Rovers manager Steve Beaglehole, which was played against a strong Leeds United side at the peak of their powers in the Premier League. Although Matty Cauldwell suffered an injury that day (“Dirty Leeds” as ever) it looked a great day for all at the club, and includes the above picture of Beaglehole with Rovers stalwart Ken Avis, former announcer at Belle Vue and Supporters Club Secretary at the time. Avis, along with one Paul Mayfield, were the men to contact to book on the visiting coaches to away games in this programme, really driving home just how long Mr. Mayfield has been working tirelessly for Doncaster Rovers.
Although not pictured, there are some great advertisements including classic programme staple Arthur Leach, complete with amusing cartoons depicting blind referees, an upcoming event at the Crown Hotel in Bawtry featuring “Celine Dion Cabaret” in the wake of the Titanic craze that swept the world in the late 90’s, and a curious full-page commercial for Arrow Shoes, using the slogan “You can’t beat PVC” and showing a slender young woman in a full dominatrix outfit. Not sure this would pass mustard today but it sure was an eye-catching way to get noticed!
The 1999/2000 season started with a victory, but it wasn’t an overly successful year for Rovers. The team came in 12th in the Nationwide Conference finishing just seven points clear of the bottom three, but did win the Conference Cup for the second year running (coverage of which will be featured in an upcoming edition of ‘Where We Came From’). Despite John Ryan touting the heavily-backed Rushden & Diamonds for the title at the start of the campaign, R&D had to settle for 2nd place behind Kidderminster Harriers, having to wait another year to reach the Football League themselves although neither side is any longer even at National League level. The division’s top two scorers and only men past 20 goals in the league, Justin Jackson (29 for Morecambe) and Carl Alford (24 for Stevenage) would go on to sign for Rovers but did not live up to their lofty reputations during their time at Belle Vue.
I hope you all enjoyed reading this piece as much as I did researching and writing it. In just three days time the 2017/18 season gets underway, and who knows how different life at Doncaster Rovers may look almost 20 years on from now, when the 2035/36 season gets underway?