Alas it seems there really is no smoke without fire – smoke machines excepted obviously – because it appears there was indeed more to Rovers’ team selection on Tuesday night than met the team-sheet. As suspected by many, though it has to be said not Viva Rovers, it turns out that many of the rumours scurrying around the ground on Tuesday night were in fact true. The Doncaster Star today reported that two Rovers players, James Hayter and John Oster, were arrested for misbehaviour in Doncaster town centre on Saturday night.
According to the Doncaster Star the incident occurred after “Hayter was told by police officers, using recently granted dispersal powers to tackle alcohol-related problems, to leave the town centre because of his behaviour. When he was seen again a short time later he was arrested and Oster was also taken into custody when he tried to intervene on his team-mate’s behalf”. The two players subsequently spent the early hours of Sunday morning in police custody. Oster is now on police bail whilst Hayter will face no further action, from the local authorities at least.
So, that clears up one mystery at least, with the absence of Oster and Hayter from Tuesday’s line-up now explainable as a consequence of foolish and unprofessional behaviour. However, one mystery still remains, why are the club trying to keep the whole story under wraps, even when it has already broken? Ten hours after this story appeared in the Doncaster Star there is still no official comment or explanation available from the Doncaster Rovers website. During the ‘Sean O’Driscoll to Burnley’ rumours the national media mistook such silence as a stoic rebuttal of outside interest, of course those of us who try to use the club’s official web presence know that this is just the latest episode of a seeming lack of desire to inform.
The club’s approach to the whole incident is baffling to say the least. The unwillingness to publicise the incident, or indeed the nature of it is understandable, but there are far more tactful ways of going about this than their chosen method of lies followed by silence. On Tuesday night the club’s match report of the Middlesbrough game simply stated that “Jason Shackell, Brian Stock, John Oster and Dean Shiels were all out with injury”. The following day, in an article Sean O’Driscoll’s thoughts on the match the manager was quoted as saying “Both Dean Shiels and Brian Stock were struggling with ankle problems and John Oster is suffering with a hamstring problem. James Hayter was feeling unwell before the game – it’s a long season and we need to protect people as much as we can”. Perhaps the players are injured and unwell, after all prison food is not the best and leaping up to knock those helmets off requires quite a leap, but simply stating that is a long way from the truth, and a truth which will obviously surface.
Earlier this season, in response to another bout of criticism to the lack of non-advertisement based content on the official website in comparison to other club’s, a member of the Rovers media department claimed that this was because they only reported the truth. As a result of their handling of this incident, such an already far from acceptable explanation is now looking as flimsy as Steve Brooker’s ankles. The actions of John Oster and James Hayter are inexcusable and unprofessional, and as much as it pains me to say it, sadly as far as the communication aspect is concerned their attitudes in this instance match that of the club they play for.