Dons: Former players take trip back in time

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Former Dons winger Stewart Piper hailed the club’s recent inaugural Past Players’ Association dinner as a big success after stars from as far back as the late 50s supported the event.

“The evening’s turnout was great as far as I am concerned and I’ve also got 10-15 people who couldn’t make it for various reasons,” he said.

“We hope to put on a couple of such events a year and I’m looking for 100 people at the next one.”

Players from as far away as Hull attended the function at Thornhurst Manor.

Among the Doncaster-based contingent were the likes of Neil Turner, Kevin Jones, Audley Pennant, Mark Gibbon and Dale Barrett and Fata Sini.

Ken Ellis, father of current Great Britain star Gareth Ellis, brother Graham, Richard Pell, Martin Rowse, Alan Hutchison and Sam Masson all made the trip from West Yorkshire.

The majority of the players, who were welcomed by chairman John Scarrow, took an interest in the many scrap books on show - one of which included a report of the 29-20 win at mighty St Helens on the club’s top flight debut in the mid-90s.

Also on show were numerous stories and action photos by Phil Callaghan dating back many years in an exhibition put together by long-serving official Ray Green.

With Dons stand-off Paul Cooke, set to take over as player-coach next season, unable to make the event, Piper stepped in at short notice as guest speaker.

During his amusing ‘Tales of Tattersfield, he jokingly recalled that he was dropped by coach Alan Rhodes, who was at the dinner, for his testimonial game in the 1981-82 season.

He also told of the occasion the team’s kit smelt of cat food after the person who washed it at home allowed her cats to sleep on it the night before a game.

Former record try-scorer Neil Turner echoed Piper’s view that the evening had been a success.

“I think it is a great idea,” he said.

“We tried to form one a few years ago but there is a lot of hard work involved trying to track people down. Stewart’s done a great job.”

Turner is one of the few former players to watch the Dons after hanging up his boots, but others on the night promised to make an effort to attend games in the future.

Green urged as many of the former players to turn up at head coach Tony Miller’s last home game in charge against Sheffield Eagles on September 1.