A teary-eyed John Ryan declared it a ‘sad day’ after stepping down as chairman and director of Doncaster Rovers.
Ryan brought to an end a 15 year spell at the head of the club a matter of hours before Rovers’ key South Yorkshire derby with fellow strugglers Barnsley, as disagreement in the boardroom took their toll on the 61-year-old.
And as news spread to Rovers’ travelling support, Ryan took his place among the fans for the second half, greeted by chants of ‘there’s only one John Ryan.’
“It’s a sad day for me,” he said.
“I’ve been chairman of this club for 15 years.
“You saw the tremendous reception I had from the fans. It was extraordinary.
“It certainly brought a tear to my eye.
“I had the send-off of all send-offs.
“I want to put on record my thanks to all the fans who wished me well and I certainly wish Doncaster Rovers well.
“I wanted to end my reign as it began, sitting among the supporters.
“I’ve been a fan since 1958 and I felt it would be appropriate to sit back among so many people that have backed me in my time as chairman.”
An emotional and visibly drained Ryan spoke with pride at his tenure in charge of Rovers which saw the club rise from near oblivion, out of non-league and into the second tier for the first time in 50 years.
He said: “Fifteen years is a pretty good stint and I think I’ve done all I intended to.
“All those years ago in 1998, when Doncaster Rovers had just been relegated out of the league, only had four players and the stand had been burnt down, I made predictions and every one came true.
“I’ve had four promotions, two cups and one relegation.
“Any chairman would be proud of that.
“There have been two major highlights for me.
“The first was at Stoke when we got out of the Conference and back into the league.
“And the second, never to be forgotten, was when we beat Leeds United at Wembley. You’ve got to enjoy that as a Doncaster Rovers fan.”
Ryan added his best wishes to current manager Paul Dickov and the players who battled out a tense 0-0 draw at a rain soaked Oakwell.
He said: “I really wish good luck to Paul Dickov and the lads, they really are a top group.
“They gave me a big round of applause when I went in because I think they recognised the work I’ve done over a lot of years.
“Let’s hope someone can come along and take the cudgels and wield them as well as me and do as good a job as I have done.
“I really thought I had another promotion in me and I’m sad I won’t have the chance to do that.”