Doncaster RLFC: Gary Thornton upset by timing of Dons sacking

Gary Thornton parted company with the Dons this week.
Gary Thornton parted company with the Dons this week.
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Gary Thornton paid the price for Doncaster RLFC’s disappointing start to their League One campaign.

The club released a statement on Tuesday saying that Thornton had left his position as head coach by ‘mutual consent’ and that his remaining coaching team would take charge until a new man was appointed.

“I don’t want to make a big thing of it but as far as I am concerned I was sacked,” said Thornton. “I know these things are never easy, but the way it was handled has left a bad taste.”

Thornton took over from Paul Cooke midway through the 2015 Championship campaign, when they were well adrift at the foot of the table, and failed to keep the club up.

The club reached last season’s League One promotion play-offs but were well beaten by Barrow in the semi-finals.

The Dons have dropped to seventh in the table after picking up just one point in three games and Thornton admits results haven’t been as good as everyone at the club had hoped.

But the former Batley and York boss, who has come under fire on social media in recent weeks, said he was confident that he could have turned things around despite his concerns that his squad wasn’t as strong as the likes of Toronto and Barrow, despite an increased budget.

“Our performances haven’t been great at times this season and I was very disappointed with our second half display in the 28-28 draw against London Broncos on Sunday,” he said.

“But had we not bombed two clear-cut scoring chances then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

Although Thornton claimed his sacking ‘came out of the blue’ he accepts that coaching is a results-driven business.

“I know it’s all about results and had (CEO) Carl Hall said to me that the club would give me to the Keighley game (on Sunday week) and had we lost that then I would be sacked then I would have accepted the decision,” he said.

“But the timing (from my perspective) was absolutely dreadful. We play Hemel on Sunday, who haven’t won a game all season, and we’d have certainly fancied our chances there and a win could have put us back in the top-four.”

A genuine man who put in many extra hours behind the scenes, Thornton was well liked and respected by his coaching staff and retained the support of his players.

He said he would be taking a break from the game but that he hoped to take up another coaching role in the future if the opportunity arose.