As I’ve reiterated weekly since the season’s finale the lack of regular football for the Rovers makes this feature decidedly difficult. Finding available and relevant video footage becomes as easy as negotiating a transfer fee appears to be in the real world. The obvious focus of this week’s edition was the only Rover still in action, Brian Stock, currently on his way out to Croatia to play for Wales. But alas footage of his international debut was sporadic, sketchy and mostly German, so we went on to plan B.
As most of you are aware Viva Rovers has a distinct Welsh connection which extends beyond Brian Stock and into friendships with many fans of Wales’ Football League teams. As Friday wore on, with the Championship Play-Off Final against Blackpool less than twenty-four hours away, it became clear that our Cardiff supporting associates were beginning to come over all queasy. This nervousness was perhaps best encapsulated by a tweet from fellow blogger Mirko Bolesan; “Play-offs are horrible. It’s like knowing you’re going out tomorrow, but you don’t know if you’re going to a friend’s wedding or their funeral.”
Doncaster Rovers own play-off record of course is a much envied one. Rovers have been involved in play-offs twice and have triumphed in both. The 2008 League 1 Play-off final against Leeds United is perhaps most favourably recalled by many, but I would argue it didn’t hold the sentiments of which Mirko Bolesan speaks as much as Rovers previous final. Yes, it was a nervy afternoon and ultimately a great victory, but in that game Rovers had nothing to lose. The had been written off by almost everyone and every corner of the media, who simply assumed Leeds stature would carry them through.
And so for this week’s Viva Video we go back to Rovers’ other Play-Off Final experience. May 2003, and the first ever Conference Promotion Play-Off. The semi-finals against Chester City had been as close, as tense and as nervy a two encounters as you could go through. And then game the final, and a match to shred any nerves that had dared make it as far as the Britannia Stadium. It was an epic afternoon, and one which we relive below with this excerpt from the Ashes to Glory DVD.