If only the whole world were as sane as direct and informative as Dutch Uncle’s statistical pieces for Viva Rovers. We’d probably have a Government for a start, and we certainly wouldn’t have the prospect of teams having champagne celebrations for finishing fourth. A vote for Dutch Uncle is a vote for progress. Anyway before I get all misty-eyed with my view of a well analysed utopia it’s time for the second and concluding part of Dutch Uncle’s Statistical Review of the Year.
We finished part one with a look at some defensive stats, but this past season also saw Rovers register some of their best ever performances at the other end of the field thanks in no small part of course to Billy Sharp. The on loan striker’s final total of 15 league goals for the club has only been bettered at the second tier on three occasions; Reg Baines 19 goals in 1935-36 and the 17 goals scored by Kit Lawlor in 1953-54 and also Bert Tindill in 1955-56. Sharp’s impressive pre Christmas scoring run of strikes in six consecutive matches was the first time a Rovers forward has been so consistent in front of goal since Peter Kitchen in 1980-81. Only two players have ever bettered such a run, Peter Kitchen again scoring in seven consecutive matches in 1975-76 and Clarrie Jordan’ club record ten consecutive goal-scoring games in the 1946-47 season.
Sharp of course is not the clubs only goal getter, as this season, as with last, the club’s squad boasted five players with twenty or more first team goals for the Rovers; Paul Heffernan (54), Jamie Coppinger (26), Lewis Guy (24), James Hayter (23) and Brian Stock (20). This has only happened on three occasions before, in 1984-85, 1969-70 and from 1934 to 1936 when at one point Doncaster had seven players who could boast twenty goals for the club. This season was also the fifth in a row in which Rovers longest serving player Jamie Coppinger has scored five goals or more. It may not seem a prolific total, but only two Rovers players have ever bettered that record; Bert Tindill (10 consecutive five goal seasons from 1948 to 1958) and Tom Keetley (6 seasons from 1923 to 1929). Five players have matched Coppinger’s run of five consecutive five goal seasons; Ray Harrison (1949 – 1954), Alick Jeffrey (1964 – 69), Peter Kitchen (1972 – 1977), Brendan O’Callaghan (1973 – 78), and Colin Douglas (1981 – 86).
Jamie Coppinger’s longevity means that he is not just threatening goalscoring records but also appearance records as well. Copps has now appeared for the club in 216 League games and 254 competitive matches in total. This puts the midfielder 22nd in the all-time club league appearance charts led by Fred Emery with 417, and 19th in the total appearances table, led by Colin Douglas and his 468 games. Keeping with appearances (as oppose to keeping up) and Brian Stock’s long overdue Welsh international debut against Russia in September made him Rovers’ first player to be capped for Wales since Eddie Perry in 1938, and indeed only the club’s second ever Welsh international. Across the Irish see Dean Shiels’ appearance at Windsor Park made him the 16th Rovers player to play a full international, and the 9th to do so in the shirt of Northern Ireland.
Rovers 2009-10 average home league attendance of 10,992 is the second largest since the 1956-57 season average of 11,132, beaten only by last year’s 11,964. Indeed Doncaster’s recent return to the Championship has seen the club average crowds of over 10,000 in consecutive seasons or the first time since the 1956-57 and 1957-58 seasons. The total number of spectators at the Keepmoat Stadium this season, 252,810, is the 16th highest in the club’s entire history. The lowest home league attendance was the 8,827 who watched Rovers lose to Reading in February, this was the fifth highest minimum attendance in the club’s history for which we can thank the good people at S*y Sp***s. Only the post war attendance boom years of 1949-50 (11,712), 1950-51 (14,557), and 1952-53 (8,951) and last season, courtesy of the 9,534 against Swansea, have seen higher minimum crowds.
Away from DN4 the attendances followed a similar pattern with the average away crowd of 17,945 a little down on last season to make it the second largest since 1957-58. This is the 10th highest average away attendance in the club’s entire history. The overall total number of spectators who have seen Rovers on the road in the league, 412,724 is the seventh highest in the club’s history and the highest since 1953-54’s 438,696. The crowd of 43,949 at Newcastle may have been poor by St James’ Park standards but it was the highest league crowd Rovers have played in front of since 1955-56 when there were 49,659 at Anfield. The crowd at Newcastle this season was the 11th highest crowd ever for a Rovers’ league game, and the 18th highest at any Rovers fixture.
To finish off this season’s round-up there are a couple of odd stats from the past campaign. For six consecutive second tier season’s Rovers had notched exactly five home draws, but this sequence was finally broken this year as Rovers finished with seven stalemates at the Keepmoat. One final characteristic which stands out of the figures is the mirror images between home and away form in the two halves of Rovers season. In the first half of the season Rovers were difficult to beat at home, (losing just one of twelve matches) but couldn’t win away, failing to pick up a victory in their first nine away games. In the second half of the campaign however Rovers were beaten six times at home and won six of their last fourteen away games. It takes a true pro like Dutch Uncle to find these anomalies, and as ever we love him for it.
Caveat – no figures quoted in this article are official. Dutch Uncle uses many sources including club handbooks, Rothmans/Sky annuals, and best of all the official Rovers history by Bluff & Watson. For definitive data the reader is referred to Tony Bluff and/or Barry Watson.