Fe fi fo fum, I smell fish and chips and those little mini donut things. It’s widely believed that because of the recession more and more Brits are choosing to stay on these shores and head to the seaside instead for their holidays to save money. If that’s the case I can assure you they aren’t travelling by train to Blackpool and taking in a football match whilst there. Wembley and the Millennium Stadium aside this is set to be my most expensive trip to watch Rovers, and one I’d have normally balked at. But instead I’m here on the 8:19 train out of Worcester writing this preview on my phone all because of how stupidly good our season has become.
There are many Rovers who denounced our season as over after Saturday’s defeat to Plymouth. I don’t subscribe to that thought. This campaign is still likely to be Rovers best in my lifetime, likely to be the best in over a century, and could possibly the best season ever. Rovers finished 7th in the second tier in their inaugural league season of 1901-02, the earliest of early benchmarks, they have never matched it, but are currently as close ad they’ve ever been. So no, I refuse to accept the season is over and instead I for one am dragging it out for as far as it will stretch.
Had Rovers defeated Plymouth on Saturday then today’s match would have held huge significance in the play-off race. Instead it’s significance is much milder but it remains a potentially pivotal fixture. Rovers are ninth and Blackpool seventh, a win for the hosts will hurl them right into the play-off mix, a win for Rovers and we can all be permitted to dream for another week. Still fighting for promotion to the Premier League with four games to go has a nice sound to it, and it isn’t the sort of noise you would attach to our motley pub team.
The timing and participants of this fixture meant that when it initially appeared on the fixture list back in the Summer it would have been labelled with the ‘potential relegation decider’ highlighter pen by many. That it is instead of significance at the other end of the table comes down to two very different managers. The brash excitable confusing soundbite filled world of Ian Holloway perhaps befits Blackpool, offering as it does all the serenity of a night time stagger past the garish amusements and gift shops on the seafront. The style of ‘Ollie’ is of course much at odds with that of our own reserved, calculated and sadly now stubble free Sean O’Driscoll. Both men have achieved results beyond their means in this season’s Championship, and as a result of their work all present at Bloomfield Road will be enjoying second tier football again next season, if not better.
There’s a fair chance that Ben Smith and Gary Woods have been practicing their shooting this weekend in the hope of being nudged further up field as Rovers remain down to the barest bones for this trip to Blackpool. With Billy Sharp’s thigh injury now likely to keep him out for the rest of the season Doncaster’s injury list now boasts eight names. Sharp is joined on the sidelines by Brian Stock, Martin Woods, Jason Shackell, Waide Fairhurst, Steve Brooker, Byron Webster and Mustapha Dumbaya. Add to that the five squad players currently out on loan – Paul Heffernan, Lewis Guy, John Spicer, Charlie Fisher, Robbie Clark – and Rovers only have three more players available unavailable. As such it’s probably safe to expect Sean O’Driscoll to name an unchanged side.
The BBC website suggests that Ian Holloway may change his line-up “for his team’s second match in the space of 48 hours”, though why he made his Blackpool side play on Saturday after they’d beaten Scunthorpe on Good Friday is anyone’s guess. The Seasiders have no new injuries to worry about, with DJ Campbell looking to build on his high impact sub appearance at Glanford Park with a place in the starting eleven.
Predicted Rovers line-up
(4-2-3-1) Neil Sullivan; James Chambers, James O’Connor, Shelton Martis, Gareth Roberts; John Oster, Mark Wilson; Jamie Copponger, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Dean Shiels; James Hayter
subs: Ben Smith, Adam Lockwood, Sam Hird, Sean McDaid, Jordan Mutch
Travelling to the Game
Blackpool are now three quarters of the way through the redevelopment of Bloomfield Road, sadly the final remaining undeveloped quarter is where Rovers fans will be housed for this game. The 1,750 capacity Eastside is a temporary uncovered seated stand running down the touchline which may or may not have arrived here from it’s previous location behind the final green at Royal Lytham St Annes. Just make sure you pack the waterproofs as it is open to the elements and you are all allowed at least one yell of “Get in the Hole”.
If you’re braving the Holiday traffic you need to leave the M6 at junction 32 and take the M55 into Blackpool, on which you will eventually pass the ground on your right. There are large pay and display car parks located across the road though you may strike it lucky with a free on-street spot along nearby roads. Those travelling by train will most likely arrive at Blackpool North station from which the simplest route to the ground is taken by the number 11 bus which passes the end of Bloomfield Road en route to Lytham St Annes.
For those willing to walk from Blackpool North it is around a thirty minute journey to the ground on foot. Turn left as you leave the station then right then left onto Cookson Street, which you follow to the end. Here turn left then right onto Park Road which you need to follow for about half a mile before turning right into Ashton Road. At the end of Ashton Road cross over Grasmere Road then turn left onto Central Drive; Bloomfield Road is the fourth right. Being Blackpool there are amusements, bars and food outlets aplenty on the seafront for those arriving early.
No Holidays for Viva Rovers as we bring you our second live match Twitter feed in three days. To stay abreast of the latest action at Bloomfield Road in bursts of 140 characters or less follow @vivarovers or keep an eye out for the #drfc hashtag on Twitter. You can also follow these despatches from the North West in the Twitter Updates box on the right of this page to keep up with how Rovers fair, how wet we get, and how much action my Kiss Me Quick hat gets me.
Those after full live commentary will need to subscribe to Rovers Player (formerly Rovers World) through the official club website though the sound of Paul Mayfield’s voice should offer some compensation for the price you pay. BBC Radio Sheffield will be broadcasting updates from the match or alternatively you could follow the BBC’s Live Text service online. And lastly on television there is the BBC Score Interactive service via the red button [insert your own joke about Garth Crooks poor punditry here – we’ve run out].