Tough decisions facing Rovers after relegation near miss

Retford award: James O'Connor took the prize. Picture: Rebecca Naden/PA
Retford award: James O'Connor took the prize. Picture: Rebecca Naden/PA
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AS Doncaster Rovers’ season is now officially over it is time to reflect on the last nine months.

The main thing is that we’ve stayed in the Championship.

If you look at it, we were safe after our win against Derby on March 1 (though we didn’t know that at the time) as that is when we reached 43 points.

We all know that next season is going to be no easier with the quality of the clubs and players being promoted and relegated, but in Sean O’Driscoll we believe.

However, some hard decisions will need to be made between now and the start of the season.

Injuries have been a key factor with the midfield totally devastated through injury for long periods of the season and now we are told that Stocky (Brian Stock) has had a career-saving ankle operation and could be out until Christmas. We wish him the best.

The game at Middlesbrough on Saturday typified our season. We had 55 per cent possession but not enough efforts on goal. If you don’t shoot, you will never score.

It was a bit like the Hull City game where we passed the ball about well but had no end result. Had we not let in that injury-time goal in we would have gone above Crystal Palace on goal difference.

It was good to see Billy Sharp back on the pitch after a two-month lay-off following a hernia operation. Let’s hope it’s not his swan song given that there are rumours linking him with a move to Ipswich and Derby.

Keeper Neil Sullivan had a blinder, and one wonders about his future.

Highlights of the season for me have been the home win over Norwich, in which Copps (James Coppinger) was at his best, and the away wins at Pompey, Derby and Preston.

The low point was the 6-0 home defeat against Ipswich, but onwards and upwards and it is only three months to wait until the start of next season.

The one consistent thing off the park has been the away support. Our two drummers, Ryan Kisby and Jack Wakefield, really get the crowd going. They were brilliant at Swansea.

The fans have sung their hearts out and it has been great stood up with them away this season, even if a bit deafening.

Thanks to all the fans who have travelled on the away coaches. We’ve had no incidents and you have been a credit to the Rovers, and it has been a pleasure taking you.

Also thanks to Dave Hickling, Rob Gwyllum, Melanie Shepperd, Bev Spencer, Dave Booth, Christine Thompson and any others for all the help stewarding the coaches.

On Saturday the Away Player of the Year on the Retford coaches was eventually decided, and the final result left the top five on five points apart.

The eventual winner was James O’Connor, one point ahead of Sully, but had Copps played against his hometown club on Saturday who knows?

Although he does have the consolation of picking up the Mark Hickling Memorial Trophy donated by the Harworth and Rossington Supporters bus.

So after tonight’s Supporters’ Club Dinner and Dance at the Charnwood, that’s it for the season - oh besides the little stroll in the Peruvian mountains on the Inca Trek - 62 miles at altitude in June with nine others from the Rovers for the NSPCC.

I’m really looking forward to it. The training is coming along well and I did 20 odd miles in the three peaks area last weekend.

Thanks to all who have sponsored me, although it’s still not too late call me on 07961-727769 or go to justgiving.com/roversincatrek.

We will keep Star readers informed of our progress, but I promise you all I will complete the trip. Thanks to Tresspass outdoor pursuits shop on Lakeside for all the help with the equipment.

Finally I hope you have enjoyed the column. Hopefully spruce it up for next season.