Doncaster Rovers Football Club
Doncaster Rovers (locally known as Rovers) are a League One football club based in the town of Doncaster in South Yorkshire.
The club was founded in 1879 by Albert Jenkins, a worker at the Great Northern Railway works in the town. He had seen the popularity of football in nearby Sheffield, and decided his town needed its own team. The name derived from a group of apprentices who first played together against a deaf team and, on the walk back to their ground, decided to call the club Doncaster Rovers.
In 1885, after years of drifting from pitch to pitch, Rovers settled on a permanent ground. Nestled behind the Institute for the Deaf and Dumb, as it was then known, the ground became known locally as the Deaf and Dumb ground. However, a year later it was officially named Intake Ground.
The club’s first competition was in 1888, when they entered the FA Cup for the first time. They unfortunately lost to neighbours Rotherham 9-1. Nevertheless, this foothold in the game meant, in 1890, the club were founder members of the Midland Alliance league, and finished second during the first season. A year later they entered the Sheffield and Hallamshire FA Challenge Cup, and won, beating Sheffield United 2-1 at Bramall Lane – a remarkable achievement for the new club.
The next season saw Rovers step up to the Midland League. They won the championship twice in three years and were subsequently voted into the Football League in 1901. That same year, they were victorious in the regional Mexborough Montagu Charity Cup. However, after two seasons in the second tier of the Football League, Doncaster dropped once again to the Midland League, only to be re-instated a season later.
In 1907, Doncaster finished at the bottom of the Second Division with a still-standing record low of only 8 points. The club was relegated back into the Midland League, and the only glimmer of hope for Rovers’ fans was another victory in the Sheffield and Hallamshire FA Cup in 1912.
Things got worse as, two years later, the club went into liquidation, owing to huge debts run up since the outset. However, within a month a reformed Rovers were ready to take on the Midland League’s finest once more. Their hopes of a new era of success were dashed though, as just one season later the league was suspended for World War 1. The club followed suit, and their Intake ground was handed to the army for use as a military base.
The Famous Belle Vue
Doncaster Rovers reformed in 1920 after the end of the war. However, they were forced to move to new pastures because the Army was still using Intake as a military depot. The Midland League had started up again by this time, and a new ground was found for Rovers near the centre of Doncaster. Belle Vue, as it was called, opened in 1922 to a record crowd of over 10,000 fans, and until its recent demolition held a fond place in the hearts of many supporters, both home and away. The opening gave Rovers the boost they needed, and in the same season they won the Sheffield based Wharncliffe Charity Cup, and placed an impressive second in the Midland League.
As a result, for the first time in over a decade, Doncaster were back in the Football League, entering the Third Division. For 11 years, the Rovers struggled in the Third Division, before finally being crowned as champions in 1935. A short stint followed in the second tier, before the Third Divisio beckoned once more, just a year before World War 2 broke out and the leagues were shut down once again.
In April 1949, Doncaster signed Huddersfield legend Peter Doherty, and installed him as player/manager. For the next 10 years, Doherty shaped the fortunes of the club, securing them a place in Division Two for seven consecutive seasons. Rovers slipped up again though, and a return to the Third Division was their unfortunate reward.
For years, Rovers fought hard in the lower divisions, drifting between the Second and Third Divisions with no real success other than promotion. Indeed, in 1969, Rovers fell down to the Fourth Division, their lowest league position yet, and languished there for most of the 1970s and 1980s.
The Dark 90s
In the early 90s, Doncaster fans thought they had found a saviour in investor Ken Richardson, who ploughed money into the failing club. He brought in a new generation of players, and the club looked like it was on the up. However, when Richardson failed to make the profit he had hoped from Rovers, he withdrew the money, and the club were forced to sell the new players to stay in the black.
They were relegated once again, and a short stint in the Football Conference followed while Richardson was sent to prison for attempting to burn down Rover’s famous Belle Vue ground in a failed insurance scam. Fans note this as the most miserable period of Rovers history.
In 1998, a wealthy resident from Doncaster decided he would save the club and bought it, promising a new stadium and a fresh influx of talent to propel the club back into the football league. Five years later, the groundwork paid off, and the club gained promotion back into League 2. They were flying, and the following season were promoted again to League 1. They are currently in their third season in League One, and in 2006 had a successful run in the League Cup, beating Premiership teams Aston Villa and Manchester United before losing out to Arsenal in the quarter final.
The club’s chairman, John Ryan, continues to invest heavily in the club, and it looks likely that soon enough Rovers will continue their run of success and move up once again to the Championship.
Division 3 – Winners (1934-45, 1946-47, 1949-50, 2003-04)
Division 4 – Winners (1965-66, 1968-69)
Football Conference – Winners (2002-03)
Johnstone’s Paint Trophy – Winners (2007)
Sheffield County Cup Winners (1891, 1912, 1936, 1938, 1956, 1968, 1976, 1986)
Midland’s Counties League – Winners (1897, 1899)
Conference Trophy – Winners (1999, 2000)
Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup – Winners (2001, 2002)
- Ticket Line – 01302 762576
- Ticket Price – Adults from £15 to £22, Concessions from £8 to £16, 12 – 16 year olds from £8 to £16, Under 11s from £5 to £16
From the M1 motorway, join M18 Eastbound at Junction 32. From A1(M) join M18 Eastbound at Junction 35. Travel down M18 and leave at Junction 3, signposted Doncaster. Turn left at the top of the slip road, head down the dual carriage way and across roundabout. Go straight on and across the second roundabout, past McDonalds. Then turn left at the third roundabout into the Keepmoat Stadium Car Park.