STEVE HOOSSACK: Burge out to impress Rovers

editorial image
0
Have your say

New signing was one of hottest properties in the game in his teens

THURSDAY

DONCASTER Rovers’ new signing Ryan Burge has certainly had an eventful career in the game.

Burge, who had been playing in the fourth tier of Spanish League prior to joining Rovers on a short-term deal he hopes will result in a longer deal, was one of the brightest prospects in the country in his mid-teens.

If he can rediscover that sort of form again, Rovers could have got themselves a bargain,

Rovers media manager Steve Uttley, who has taken over as editor of the club programme, asked me if I’d contribute a 500 word article for a forthcoming programme.

Steve, who suggested I do a piece on what it is like to be a sports journalist in 2011, is trying to deliver a different look to the publication and is looking to bring in guest writers to do one-off articles.

We had a bit of a laugh in the press conference with manager Sean O’Driscoll.

A young lad from a Yorkshire-based radio station asked half a dozen or so ‘and finally’ questions which Sean, who has a dry sense of humour, picked up on.

I started my first question ‘and finally’....

Sean both spoke highly of, and sympathised with, Alan Irvine, who had been sacked as Sheffield Wednesday boss earlier in the day.

FRIDAY

THE Dons could hardly have had a tougher start to the season than a trip to Featherstone Rovers in their opening Northern Rail Cup Pool A match, and so it proved.

Rovers might not be the force they were in the 1970s, when they reached two Challenge Cup finals and were league champions and league runnners-up in different seasons, but their tight Post Office Road ground is still a tough place to go.

Without spending a fortune, Rovers’ boss Daryl Powell has assembled a good squad over the last couple of years and they finished top of the Championship table (the division below Super League) last season.

Having supported Rovers, for whom my dad used to play, for many years before getting into journalism, I always enjoy my visits back to the ground.

Apart from the gale-force wind, the first thing I noticed on arriving at the ground was the floodlights. which were nowhere near the brightness of those at the Keepmoat Stadium and which made it difficult to pick out players from the press box. It didn’t help that the Dons had seven new players on debut.

The Dons got off to a dream start with full-back Mick Butterfield, who still had a fair bit to do, collecting a kick through deep in his own half and racing 80 metres to score a superb try after less than two minutes.

The Dons, who were much the better side early on, would have added to their lead had former Featherstone player Paul Hughes not knocked on in the act of scoring.

Rovers were slow to get into their stride but when they did there finishing was clinical and they scored three tries in six minutes.

Dons winger Dean Colton, who spent a season at the West Yorkshire club a couple of years ago, went close to cutting the deficit before Rovers struck again to lead 22-4.

The Dons’ prospects of getting back into the game in the second half, when they had the wind at their backs, weren’t helped when hooker Kyle Kesik was sent-off on the stroke of half-time.

Rovers dominated the second half and the Dons only made infrequent attacking sorties into Featherstone’s 20 - loose-forwad Mike Emmett scoring a second try during one such occasion.

Rovers ran in 11 tries in all and, but for the wind, which made goal-kicking difficult, would probably have won by even more points.

On this sort of form it will take a good side to prevent them from lifting the NRC for the first time at Bloomfield Road in July.

As for the Dons, they showed enough to suggest that they could win at least a couple of their remaining Pool A games and do well in Championship One.

Had I not been working I would have watched the opening game of the 2011 Six Nations Championship between Wales and England at the Millennium Stadium - always one of the more tasty affairs especiallty at Cardiff.

By all accounts, it was a decent start for England who will have been delighted to get their campaign off to a winning start - especially in World Cup year.

SATURDAY

I made my first visit to Millwall’s Den for their home game against Doncaster Rovers.

What was already a tough game, against a Lions’ side which had won its last five home league games, was made even more difficult for Rovers when both James Coppinger and James Hayter were ruled out after picking up knocks in the midweek win over Burnley.

What could have been an entertaining game was ruined by a gale force swirling wind and a bumpy pitch and it won’t be a game which will last long in my memory.

Neither side deserved to win and Rovers were unlucky to go down to late goal.

It was good to see Steve Brooker start a league game for Rovers at last after all his injury problems.

He still has a way to turn back the clock, but hopefully Saturday’s game will be the first step on the road to the Brooker of old.

As part of their fifth Dockers’ Day celebrations, the Lions reunited the 19887-88 team which were promoted to the top flight for the first time.

Amongst the former Millwall players of that era was Teddy Sherringham, who was much in demand for a photograph in the media lounge before the game.

MONDAY

SPURS’ loanee Ryan Mason, who recently returned to Rovers for the rest of the season, was called up for the England’s Under-20 friendly international against France on Wednesday.