Doncaster Rovers head to Cardiff this weekend for their first league fixture in the Welsh capital since March 1998. That of course was Rovers’ nadir season with a shell of a football club being left to flounder around on the foot of Division 3, like a goldfish tipped from it’s tank.
That match was lost 7-1, to a Cardiff City who were at the time suffering one of the worst seasons in their own history. Rovers goal, a last minute consolation strike from Adie Mike, was greeted by the handful of Rovers fans in the Ninian Park main stand as if it was a cup winner; gallows humour having set in a long time before. So forgive us if we draw a line under that match and instead visit happier times.
Two years ago, Rovers returned to Cardiff in very different circumstances. The opponents were Bristol Rovers, the occasion was the Johnstones Paint Trophy Final and most notably the venue was the Millennium Stadium. As a follower of the Welsh national team I have been lucky enough to pay numerous visits to the Millennium, but the buzz of seeing your own team play there is something special.
It’s easy to dismiss the JPT and it’s predecessors as an unecessary distraction and addition to the football calendar. But a trip to the final, at the Millennium or now back at Wembley can do wonders for a club’s morale, and finances. And let us not forget, winning the JPT robably helped Sean O’Driscoll stave off some of the reactionary types from baying for the end of his reign.
Eventually it will be nothing more than a footnote in the history of our club, but there is no denying it was a fantastic experience. So let us go back to that sunny April Sunday. It all seems so long ago…