On Christmas Day morning whilst we were all unwrapping yet another pair of Doncaster Rovers socks it seems the players themsleves were peeling open a very different gift. A great big box of divisional survival form. Since the festive period Rovers have matched one of the country’s top four teams in the FA Cup and most importantly have strung together four successive league wins.
The latest of thes victories came on Wednesday with a battled 1-0 victory over Sheffield United not only giving Rovers their first ever win at Brammall Lane, but also lifting Doncaster out of the Championship bottom three for the first time since September. In the wake of Tuesday’s victory some fans on another forum labelled this victory as possibly being this season’s ‘Mansfield moment’.
To many of you that sentiment will be lost, but let me explain. In 2003-2004, Rovers’ first season back in the Football League, the club had been everyone’s favourites for relegation. Yet in February the club were very much in the title race as they travelled to play fellow challengers Mansfield Town. Yorkshire folk don’t have short memories and so with two decades nowhere near enough time to quell inevitable Miners Strike related aggro, genuine league related tension and a relatively full-house at Field Mill the atmosphere was charged to say the least.
Rovers trailed at 1-0 half-time, but in the second half they not only found their second wind, but their third and fourth as well. Rovers competed for every ball, and harried the home sides whenever they dared try and retain any posession. In a devastating display Rovers overturned the scoreline, with two goals inside eight minutes helping them to a 2-1 win. The performance itself was genuinely magnificent, but the upshot of it was even more telling. Rovers went top of Division Three that night, and remained there until the end of the season for an unlikely, but fully deserved Championship.
Thanks to ‘philskyross’ we can relive the glory of the original Mansfield moment once again with this video incorporating that two goal fightback, but first an apology. To the old fella and his even older father who had the misfortune to occupy the seats next to me for this game. Let me take this opportunity to apologise for grabbing you by the jacket as Blundell scored his second goal and screaming into your overjoyed, but nonetheless terrified face. I’m sure you’ll agree in hindsight it was a reasonable reaction.
So then, soak it up. Listen to the atmosphere, remember how good Michael McIndoe was at that level, watch Leo Fortune-West pefect the art of being a walking nusiance, listen to the travelling support and most of all revel in Gregg Blundell’s clinical strikes. Memories are made of this…