James Marshall: League Two return would be ‘gut-wrenching’

Rovers celebrate winning the old Division Three in 2004
Rovers celebrate winning the old Division Three in 2004
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League Two is once again looking like a realistic destination for Doncaster Rovers, writes James Marshall.

The last time we were looking ahead to a season in the fourth tier, I had just been to the Britannia Stadium in 2003, aged nine, and celebrated Francis Tierney’s golden goal to take us out of the Conference.

To drop back there after talking about Premier League football only a few years ago, and playing Premier League standard football against Stoke City only a few months ago, would be absolutely gut-wrenching.

I’ve seen enough football to know what comes around goes around. You win some, you lose some. Chelsea are fighting to finish above West Brom. Leicester City are top of the Premier League. Football is weird.

A ‘pub team’ could not just keep rising could it? The way we went from Conference to Championship, if we continued that trajectory we’d be looking forward to a trip to the Nou Camp in the Champions League, rather than League Two.

But the decline has been far faster than the rise and it needs arresting. And it should start now, not in August.

Do Rovers look doomed to relegation? Just about.

But assuming we can’t pull off a near miracle, I want the fans to at least have something to shout about.

If we are to go down, let’s go down fighting.

However, more importantly the club must re-engage with the heart of their supporters, put a team and a coherent plan together, and bounce back.

The rise of Rovers was built on a terrific attitude throughout the squad and an identity, a clear playing style. The recent decline has seen a lack of these components.

To the board, the owners, everyone at the club: back your manager, whether it be Darren Ferguson or not, and give him a squad full of players who’ll fight for the badge. Develop an identity.

After all, the fans are the ones to which the phrase ‘Rovers ‘til I die’ truly applies.