Watson backs funding of Saunders promotion bid

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DONCASTER Rovers suffered a few scary moments on Halloween before booking their place in the second round of the FA Youth Cup with a 1-0 win over Morecambe at the Keepmoat Stadium last Wednesday night.

Rovers took an early lead but were never able to relax against a bigger and more experienced Shrimpers side.

In a rare interview on Friday, former vice-chairman Dick Watson and one of the Rovers three major shareholders, revealed that there would be a second ‘Meet the Shareholders’ meeting in January following the success of the first open forum event held back in June.

“It was widely documented that after relegation we had to cut our cloth a bit and reduce our wage budget but even in doing so we still armed manager Dean Saunders with one of the biggest budgets in this division,” he said. “Our aim was to ensure that our first season back in League One wasn’t a struggle and if possible we would attempt to get back up to the Championship.

“Dean has used the funds that we have given him well and I think it is clear that the team are starting to gel. I’m sure that we’ll continue to improve as the season progresses. We’ve been impressed with the start we’ve made so far and, as a result of Dean’s dealings in the transfer market, we’ve changed our budget from the initial consideration to give him even more flexibility in the market.”

Dons boss Tony Miller tied the knot with girlfriend Debbie, who has been converted to a rugby league fan since starting to date Tony a couple of years ago on the same day.

Doncaster Rovers Belles manager John Buckley told me prior to Rovers FA Cup first round tie against Conference North side Bradford Park Avenue at the Keepmoat Stadium, that he was helping to coach Rovers Under-13s before resuming his duties with the FA Women’s Super League (WSL) team in January. He also told me that seasoned England international Sue Smith, ruled out for the whole of the 2012 WSL campaign with a serious knee problem after being injured on her Belles’ competitive debut at the start of the season, continues to make good progress with her rehabilitation and expects to be able to join in pre-season training early in the New Year.

Doncaster Knights fell away in the second half of their Championship derby at Rotherham.

I never felt that Rovers wouldn’t beat Park Avenue, though they lost their way a little bit after the visitors had made it 2-1 on 56 minutes, and in the end ran out fairly comfortable 3-1 winners. But credit Park Avenue, who played some neat football.

Rovers juniors lost both their 100 per cent record and their grip on the FA Youth Alliance Cup they won last season for the first time, after suffering a 5-4 defeat in their Northern Alliance first round tie at Accrington Stanley earlier in the day.

Rovers led 3-1 in the first half. But the North-West Alliance side levelled before the break and then opened up a 5-3 lead in the second half.

Doncaster Lawn Tennis Club hosted another successful Bonfire Night at their Saxton Avenue base in Bessacarr that evening.

Open to members and the general public, the event is always well attended and is easily the club’s biggest fund-raising function of the year. I always enjoy having a chat with such as former Doncaster Rugby Union Club captain Howard Thompson, stood around the fire at the end of the night.