Championship New Boys: Doncaster Rovers
Doncaster Rovers are the sixth and final instalment in Vital QPR`s roundup of the Championship new boys.
Facts and Figures
Ground: Keepmoat Stadium - 15,231
Manager: Sean O`Driscoll
Football League Third Division North - Champions: 1935, 1947, 1950.
Football League Fourth Division - Champions: 1966, 1969.
Football League One Playoffs - Winners: 2008.
Football Conference Playoffs - Winners: 2003.
Football League Trophy - Winners: 2007.
Football Conference Cup - Winners: 1999, 2000.
All time attendance record: 37,149 v Hull City (Third Division North, 1948)
Record victory: 10-0 v Darlington (Fourth Division, 1964)
Record defeat 0-12 v Small Heath (Second Division, 1903)
Record Buy: James Hayter - £200,000 from AFC Bournemouth
Record Sale: Rufus Brevett - £275,000 to Queens Park Rangers
It seems somewhat hard to believe that merely five years ago Doncaster Rovers finished third in the Conference, before beating Dagenham & Redbridge at Stoke City`s Britannia Stadium. A thrilling encounter that finished 3-2 after extra time, courtesy of Francis Tierney`s 110th minute golden goal.
Thus their Football League journey began, a journey that has ultimately seen their majestic rise to the second tier of English football.
It didn`t take Rovers long to make their impact on the Football League, an attack supplemented by the wingwork of Michael McIndoe saw them ascend straight through Division 3, finishing top of the league with 92 points.
David Penny`s men didn`t seem overawed by their lofty League One status, as they gave the division a good run for their money, finishing 10th. No side seemed to relish the prospect of playing at Belle Vue, least of all local rivals Barnsley who were beaten 4-0, a side which included Rangers forward Daniel Nardiello.
The following season the signs of improvement were becoming more evident, as an 8th placed finish was accompanied with a mesmerising League Cup run, which saw Rovers dispatch of Wrexham, Manchester City, Gillingham and a comfortable 3-0 win over Aston Villa. Their cup run came to an end with a cruel blow, losing on penalties against Arsenal, despite a valiant effort to draw the game 2-2 after extra time.
After a stuttering start to the 2006/07 season David Penny left the club by mutual consent, and not soon after former AFC Bournemouth manager Sean O`Driscoll took charge. In a season of transition at Doncaster, they finished a respectable 11th place in League One, and O`Driscoll wasted no time in handing them a piece of silverwear, beating Bristol Rovers 3-2 in the final of the Football League Trophy, a game that was settled by Graeme Lee in the 110th minute.
It was the end of 2006 that Doncaster bid a fond farewell to Belle Vue after 84 years, making way for the state of the art Keepmoat Stadium. A crowd of 14,297 were in attendance at the first game at the newly crowned stadium, as the hosts went down 4-0 to Bolton Wanderers in the F.A. Cup.
O`Driscoll didn`t take long to find his feet with Donny, as last season he led them to the Championship. Looking strong bets for promotion throughout the season, they kept pace with Swansea and Carlisle throughout, but after a disappointing defeat away at Cheltenham Town, they had to settle for the playoffs.
A mercurial midfield display from James Coppinger saw them to the final, as the ex-Newcastle man scored a hatrick to fire Donny to Wembley. Against all odds Rovers outplayed Leeds United with hero James Hayter scoring the 48th minute header, and with that the local bragging rights were all for Doncaster Rovers, as the unfashionable Conference side soared to the English second tier.
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