The history boys

WHEN you have been as low as the Dons have over the years, you can never be sure of anything until it has been signed on the dotted line.

There has been near oblivion. There has been Challenge Cup humiliation. There has been Another Bloody Sunday.

PARTY TIME: Russ Spiers (left with cup) leads his Dons teammates in a celebratory song after winning the Championship One title. Picture: Rob Terrace

PARTY TIME: Russ Spiers (left with cup) leads his Dons teammates in a celebratory song after winning the Championship One title. Picture: Rob Terrace

But 2012 has been the year of Another Bloody Brilliant Sunday.

And last weekend saw the most brilliant of the lot as history was made.

A first league title in the club’s 61 year existence was sealed with an emphatic win at London Skolars, sparking to life a party that began in Wood Green, travelled back up the A1 and concluded in the wee small hours back at the Keepmoat.

Also secured was a £50,000 cheque that, by the looks of some of the pictures from the party, will largely go towards bar bills and clean up costs!

Beating Championship One’s sixth placed side sounded like a simple task at first but not when considering that the Skolars had only lost at home to Barrow and Workington during the season.

And stepping out to view the extremely narrow pitch at the centre of the vast White Hart Lane Community Sports Centre, it hardly looked the best surface for the usually expansive Dons.

A few doubts certainly crept in.

Club co-owner Carl Hall admitted he was suffering from nerves in the build-up.

“It’s been tough for me, I’ve not been able to sleep,” he said.

“When you’re not a player, there’s nothing you can do about it but I never worried like this when I was a player.

“We know the players are good enough and we think they’re better than those they’re up against but you worry about the size of the occasion.

“Will that occasion get to some of the lads?”

Within the first 15 minutes, doubts and nerves had been completely obliterated with tries from Carl Hughes, Chris Spurr and Lucas Walshaw.

A big following from Doncaster had already taken over the stadium in presence and now they were taking over North London in voice.

The party had started and it just grew and grew.

Though the Skolars would hit back twice through John Paxton, there was no stopping a thoroughly professional Dons outfit.

The performance was not as thrilling as many have been this season but for dogged determination there has been little to match it.

They tackled hard, gave up little ground and exploited any space granted in the middle of the park.

Who needs wide open spaces when you can charge down the centre with power and pace?

The impressive Walshaw grabbed a second of the game, Danny Cowling went over after a fine passing move and Dean Colton completed a superb breakaway.

Then came another piece of history as Lee Waterman received an excellent pass from the talismanic Paul Cooke to set a new tries for the season record.

And after Spurr’s second try, Waterman made it 34 for the campaign by strolling through an opposition as well-beaten in spirit as they were in scoreline.

The Dons finished the regular league season as they have played it throughout – swatting teams aside with superb scoring.

And it was fitting that the record breaking Waterman would be the one to close the scoring, even if he did not manage the hat trick he so clearly craved.

“Lee’s been magnificent all year and for him to do it when we win the title, I’m really pleased for the lad,” said head coach Tony Miller.

The final buzzer brought a crescendo of noise from a Dons support who had not stopped singing all afternoon.

Miller added: “I think the players have been magnificent all year and they didn’t let us down.

“We spoke before we went out about the opportunity for a place in history.

“Doncaster has never won a league title, there is not many of the players who have and I certainly never did as a professional.

“To win a league title and to be the first from Doncaster, when there’s been a lot of good teams over the years trying to achieve that, is a massive achievement.

“I’m extremely proud to be the first person to coach Doncaster to a title.

“But it’s not just about me, I’ve got a really good backroom staff and it’s a great team effort.”

“We’ve averaged 40 points plus this year, we’ve scored the most points and won the most games so we definitely deserve the title and we’ve done it in an attractive way.”

Champagne was sprayed onto the running track at the home of Haringey Athletics Club, just as it would be onto the carpet of the Belle Vue Bar at the Keepmoat later that night.

Hall was tackled and then found himself at the bottom of a pile of players while Miller had a bucket of ice dumped over his head.

Even the bar at the stadium running dry could not spoil the celebrations as players and supporters piled onto buses with the promise of a party back home.

“I’m happy for the players and the coaching staff and all these fans because they’ve waited 61 years for something like this,” Hall said.

“This club’s been going for 61 years and they’ve never won a league so to do that means more than any prize money ever could.

“We’re the first ones to do this for the club and we’ve done it in the right way – generating the right culture and getting the players to believe in what we’re doing.

“I’m a very proud man on a very proud day for this brilliant club.”