DONCASTER Rovers injury-hit striker Steve Brooker has not had much to smile about since joining the club from Championship rivals Bristol City early in 2009.
But he couldn’t contain his delight at firing Rovers into a 50th minute lead after latching on to a long free-kick by keeper Neil Sullivan and holding off a defender and rifling the ball home from 20 yards.
Said Brooker: “The ball sat up nicely for me so I thought that I’d give it a go.
“I was delighted to see it fly into the back of the net. It has to be one of the best goals I’ve scored.
“I was pleased for myself but pleased also for the team. It gave us the cushion that we needed at that stage.
“It was just a pity that we couldn’t hold on to the lead. “It’s a relief that we are finally safe. It is has been in our hands for the last few games but we’ve not been able to score enough goals. We were starting to run out of games but we’ve finally done it with a game to spare and everyone is delighted.”
Brooker’s goal, his first since scoring on his loan debut for Rovers at Watford in November 2008, sparked off a huge celebration - both on and off the pitch.
“I ran to the bench because they were the people who know what I’ve been through over the last couple of years,” said Brooker.
“They’ve seen me working hard on my rehab every day following the three operations that I’ve had and the other niggles which you always get when you’ve been out a long time.”
Brooker, who has started just one game during his time at the club, is out of contact at the club in the summer.
He admits that he doesn’t know what the future holds as far as Rovers is concerned.
“I don’t think the fact that I scored a goal today will make any difference to what the manager thinks of me,” he said.
“My main concern is trying to get myself 100 per cent fit again in the summer and I’ll take it from there.
“I’ve been having a bit of problem with my other ankle and I probably need a routine ‘clean out’ operation at the end of the season.”
Brooker’s goal secured Rovers the point they needed at the start of the game to be mathematically certain of staying up no matter what Sheffield United did in their two remaining games.
But with the Blades, who were leading until late in the game, being held to 2-2 by visiting Barnsley, Rovers would have been safe in any case.
“We didn’t know the score at Bramall Lane until after the game; we were just concentrating on what we had to do,” said Rovers’ No 2 Richard O’Kelly.
“We felt that we had got on top in the last 15 minutes of the first half and we wanted to continue to do what we had been doing well and to tweak one or two things which we felt that we could do better,” he said.
“It was disappointing to lose Jason (Euell) who had looked lively and enthusiastic, as he has in the last couple of games since coming back into the side, but Steve’s come on and show us what he can do.
“I was delighted for the team that we scored but particularly for Steve Brooker. He’s been a true professional throughout his time at the club and I can’t speak highly enough of the man.”
With the club now safe from relegation, Rovers may well decide to bring forward the dates of planned operations for such as centre-back George Friend and skipper Brian Stock (ankle).