Has it really been eight years since we set off en masse for Stoke, a banner/bedsheet daubed with “Last one out of Donny, turn off the lights” flapping off the bridge on the M18 as we went? Just over ten thousand of us were there at the Britannia Stadium for the first ever Conference Play-Off Final; a fraught, stomach churning but ultimately joyous last 107 minutes of non-league football for the club.
We’ve all got our own memories of that day, and my own include getting in the largest round of drinks I’ve ever bought in Delilah’s Bar at the Britannia (“Four pints of Smiths please”… “anything else?” “yes, eighteen pints of Carling”), an order so large we had to put all the drinks on a table by the bar and then carry the table across the room. But, whatever our individual recollections they all end at one focal point. The head-bandaged Gregg Blundell threading a killer ball into the left channel… Paul Barnes finding a hitherto unknown gear to get round the outside of his man and play a first time square cross… and Franny Tierney meeting it first, holding off the challenge to slot home the Golden Goal. That Golden Goal.
Dubbed Sir Francis Tierney by the Rovers fans as a result it was a shame that injury curtailed the winger’s impact on the Football League in the following seasons, but the ovation he received each time he took the field was tantamount to both his popularity and the importance of that goal. Indeed when Rovers secured the Division 3 title at Boston a year later it was Tierney’s reluctant shuffle onto the field at the far end of the ground for the post-match celebrations that brought one of the loudest cheers. As a result of his goal May 10th will always be a significant date for Rovers fans, so why not relive it below once more on us. Happy Sir Francis Tierney Day everyone.