DONS’ winger Dean Colton will kick-off his three-month testimonial against Doncaster Amateur Select in the club’s final warm-up game at Wheatley Hills Rugby Union Club on Sunday (2pm).
It will be the Championship One club’s first game north of the river since moving from their Tattersfield base in the mid-90s.
Colton came up through the junior ranks at Toll Bar, who will be supplying a number of the Doncaster Select side, before signing for the Dons as a teenager.
He made his debut for the Dons in the 2001 season and played at half-back or hooker before being converted to a winger.
Apart from a season at Featherstone, Colton has spent all his career playing for his hometown club and has proved a remarkably consistent performer over the years - solid in defence and a proven finisher.
One of the fastest players in the British game in his mid-20s - he could still give most players outside of Super League a run for their money - the likeable Colton has long been a fans’ favourite.
Thus he can be guaranteed a good turn-out, not only Sunday, but for the other events he’s got lined-up.
Colton has suffered more than his fair share of disappointments over the years whilst playing for the Dons, but there have been plenty of highs as well: “I suppose 2008 has got to be my best season,” he told The Star in an exclusive interview ahead of Sunday’s game.
“We reached our first-ever major cup final when winning through to Blackpool to face Salford, who had been relegated from the Super League the previous season, in the Northern Rail Cup final.
“Although we were beaten and didn’t really do ourselves justice, it was a great achievement for a National League Two side to reach the final.
“We also won promotion back to the League One after beating Oldham in the Play-Off final at Warrington.
“I was also picked for the Scotland side for the 2008 World Cup in Australia and I played in two of the group games.”
Prior to flying out Down Under, Colton witnessed the break-up of the Dons’ squad and the departure of high-profile head coach Ellery Hanley, as the playing budget for the 2009 season was slashed.
“It was a shame because had we been able to keep the squad together, and add just a couple more players, we’d have done well,” he said.
After just missing out on promotion last season - the club letting a match-winning lead slip away in a classic Play-Off quarter-final at Rochdale, Colton is tipping the Dons to win promotion this time around.
“I think we’ll do well this season,” he predicted. “We’ve got a good mix of young and senior players and Paul Cooke is obviously going to be a big signing for us.
“We’ve missed someone like him to fill the shoes of Paul Mannson and Graham Holroyd.”
Colton is one of only three Doncaster-born players in the 2012 squad along with fellow stalwart Craig Lawton and close-season signing from Gateshead, Mike Kelly.
“It’s disappointing that there haven’t been more local players coming through since Craig and Peter Green (now with Sheffield Eagles) all joined around the same time from Toll Bar,” he said.
“Hopefully games like Sunday will help to change this as it will give local amateurs the chance to showcase their talents.”