NEVER go back. It’s a phrase often trotted out in footballing circles but quite the opposite was true for Doncaster-born Chris Brown.
A Rovers return was the perfect move for a striker who never forgot the Doncaster spirit.
As a fresh-faced teenager bombing round Belle Vue, loan man Brown quickly became a popular member of the last Rovers side to win a league title in 2004.
Almost a decade later, still characterised by that same bustling style, he is set to lead the line at Bury tomorrow on the back of two powerful performances against Stevenage and Leyton Orient that rolled back the years.
According to the 28-year-old, not much has changed in the time he has been away.
“It’s still the same,” said Brown, whose father Alan also played up front for Rovers, signed by Billy Bremner in 1984.
“I loved it here the first time.
“There’s a lot of good people at the stadium, brilliant football people, people like Dave Richards the former kit man.
“It’s a family orientated club and I love it here, and I think that spirit runs right through the club.
“I can feel it and I know the other players can feel it. It drives them on.
“A brilliant example of it was against Orient and the lengths that the ground staff went to get that game on.
“The lads certainly appreciated everything that they did and then we went out there and got the three points.”
Come the end of this season, Brown’s career could have a very satisfying symmetrical look to it.
He bagged ten goals during his seven-month loan stay, helping Dave Penney’s Doncaster lift the old Third Division championship in style.
Brown is just one short of that tally this term as part of another team chasing title honours, and the former Sunderland and Preston front man says the similarities do not end there.
“There’s a good mix of experience and youth here now,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of good young players in the squad like Benno [Kyle Bennett], Gary Woods, Hubby [James Husband], David Cotterill and Tommy Spurr.
“We’ve got the experienced lads as well, especially at the back with Rob [Jones] and Jamie [McCombe], and in midfield with Keegs [Paul Keegan] and up front with Humey [Iain Hume].
“There’s a lot of lads who’ve been there and done it, and a lot of lads helping them with legs in the team.
“I think it was the same back then [in 2003/4].
“We had a lot of, if you like, managers on the pitch with the likes of Dools [John Doolan] and Steve Foster. They were similar characters to Rob and Jamie.
“It was a great set of lads back then and you can say the same about now.”
An injury-ravaged first season back in South Yorkshire meant Brown’s homecoming of sorts has taken time to come to the boil.
But after sitting out seven months of a thoroughly forgettable season, Brown now hopes history will repeat itself as he looks to finish the current campaign on a high, by picking up another league winner’s medal.
“It’s a physical thing with me because sometimes my back plays up,” said Brown, who returned to the starting line-up at Stevenage following a groin problem. But recently I’ve felt great and I can run for 90 minutes.
“I came up against some strong lads at Stevenage and again against Orient but I felt really good.
“From a team point of view, it’s been brilliant,” he added.
“Stevenage was a great game to play in. Going one down and then pulling it back was brilliant and that set the tone for the week after.
“We came out of the blocks flying against Orient and got an early goal from Rob and that really set us up. I was grateful to get a goal but as a team I thought we were outstanding.
“It’s up to us now to keep that momentum going at Bury this weekend.”