Certain players are etched in football history, destined to always be associated with a single moment, a sole instance from years spent playing the game. Jimmy Glass is eternally buried beneath a pile of bouyant Cumbrians, Marco Tardelli will be forever running from the West German goal head shaking in joyous disbelief. Two such players jump out for Rovers; Theo Streete and Francis Tierney, and it is the latter’s finest hour to which episode four of our snapshot series is dedicated.
For the unitiated Franny Tierney, or ‘Sir Francis Tierney’ as he was subsequently dubbed by Rovers’ fans, scored the goal that returned Doncaster to the Football League. In the first ever Conference play-off final at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium Rovers had thrown a way a 2-0 lead against Dagenham & Redbridge, and the match had entered extra-time; golden goal extra-time. As we stood wracked with nerves Gregg Blundell fed Paul Barnes down the left, the veteran summoned pace he had no right to have at his disposal 100 minutes into a game to get onto the pass and cut the ball across goal where Tierney swept it home. It remains the only promotion ever secured by a sudden death goal, it was for us the most golden of goals.
This picture, taken from high up amongst the 10,000 Rovers supporters who made the trip, captures the scene around half a minute or so after Tierney’s goal. Whilst generally I dislike golden goals, their one redeeming feature is that they allow for that Hollywood sports film ending we’ve all grown-up with. The match is over, there’s no coming back from it. The hero’s glory cannot be taken away by a clumsy foul or a misplaced pass in the following minutes, no, their finest hour has been instantly preserved, and we can, as they do in all those films, swarm on to the field and be part of the moment.
That said, like many others at the time I booed those who went on to the field. They weren’t supposd to be on there, they delayed the trophy presentation, they were spoiling it. But ever since the first time I saw this picture I’ve forgiven them all. You need only look at the body shapes of those running on; silhouettes of pure joy as far as the eye can see. My favourite is the fella in white just in front of the right hand goal, hands on his head in pure disbelief. After five years in enforced non-league exile we had finally reclaimed what one man had seen so intent on taken away. A minute or two after this picture was taken, as the sound of a continuous roar finally tarted to subside, a chorus of “Are you watching Richardson?” piped up and carried across the Doncaster fans. The demon had been exorcised, it was as pure a moment as we’ll ever experience as football supporters.
If you have a Rovers related photograph you think would be suitable for inclusion in our Snapshot series please get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org. Many thanks to ‘Muttley’ for allowing me to use this image.