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The Verdict: Indispensable Rob Jones can inspire team - and crowd - at home

Doncaster Rovers vs Crewe 
Down & out for the count , Rovers Skipper Rob Jones is KO'd after a clash of Heads

Doncaster Rovers vs Crewe Down & out for the count , Rovers Skipper Rob Jones is KO'd after a clash of Heads

  • by Paul Goodwin
 

LACED up footballs and muddy pitches might be long gone but nothing has survived the modernisation of football quite like the old fashioned centre half.

And in giant defender Rob Jones, the type of commanding centre back Doncaster have lacked since they let Jason Shackell slip from their grasp, Rovers can boast their very own blast from the past.

Jones’ no-nonsense approach to defending might be considered by today’s purists to be stuck in something of a time warp.

But his already immense contribution to Rovers, and his uncanny knack of continually heading away danger, has already brought great joy to supporters - particularly those older fans that might yearn for the good old days.

More joy, it must be said, than Rovers’ stuttering attacking play at the Keepmoat.

But don’t panic! If anyone can inspire this Rovers team onto even better things, it’s ‘Corporal’ Jones.

Jones’ almighty physical presence, uncompromising style and obvious leadership qualities would not have been out of place in another Doncaster team famous for its fantastic form on the road.

In 1946/47 when Rovers notched an incredible 18 away wins on their way to the Division Three North title - losing just three times all season - a bustling centre back named Syd Bycroft struck fear into opposition forwards.

Bycroft served as a policeman during the war. Jones was a teacher before breaking into professional football.

For both, their sheer authority and strength has not just helped prevent goals in the past, it can inspire their teammates to produce the goods too.

Jones is a throwback to a by-gone era. He’s an old fashioned warrior, a natural born winner, and he’s just the type of character that Doncaster could have done with in the dressing room last season.

With the 33-year-old playing in front of him, it is no surprise that Gary Woods has looked twice the keeper than he did as a nervous Championship stand-in.

It is no coincidence at all that Tommy Spurr has slotted in seamlessly at centre back, producing some of the best performances of his career in a position he is not really that keen on.

And it was no great shock that Jones’ return to the side on Saturday coincided with a return to winning ways at Portsmouth, thanks to another disciplined defensive display, and then Carlisle.

Jones is an intense character. One that prefers to walk the walk, rather than talk the talk.

His careful positioning and obvious height advantage has immediately helped Doncaster address their weakness at defending set pieces, while his goal at Brunton Park showcased his threat in the opposition’s box.

A Rob Jones in this sort of form can inspire Doncaster to reach new heights at home.

And if all else fails Captain Fantastic could always go up front, like Dean Saunders hinted at earlier this season - he certainly wouldn’t let anyone down in that position!

@paulgoodwinDFP

 

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