Doncaster Rovers: Andrew Watson - the man who could be king at the Keepmoat

Who will guide Doncaster Rovers into the future has long been a question that has hung over the club.

Sunday, 28th August 2016, 8:00 am
Andrew Watson

With primary stakeholders Dick Watson and Terry Bramall in their mid-70s, there has been a worry Rovers may find themselves unintentionally rudderless with the passage of time.

But earlier this year, a major step was taken to plan for the future of the club as director Andrew Watson was named vice chairman.

Andrew Watson with Rovers boss Darren Ferguson

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And many are looking to the 47-year-old as the man to take the helm from his father and Bramall.

“I think, as in all business, you’re looking at succession and succession planning,” Watson told the Free Press.

“My dad is 74. Terry is the same. David Blunt [chairman] is in his 60s.

“There has to be a plan for the future and it’s something we’ve always looked at.

Andrew Watson with Rovers boss Darren Ferguson

“I felt it was the right time, not to step up to the plate as it were, but to play more of an active role.

“You can be a director of a football club and sit in the background.

“Becoming vice chairman is a prominent position.

“And it’s something I’m proud to be. It inspires you to work hard and try to bring success to the club.

“Being a local guy as well, it’s a great position to be in and a great honour.”

Other than studying at university in Leeds for four years, Watson has lived in Doncaster since the age of two.

A former Edlington Comprehensive pupil, he lives in Tickhill as he did when he was a child.

While the family’s active role in Rovers did not come until 2006, Watson and his father were regulars at Belle Vue long before.

He said: “My dad used to take me to Belle Vue.

“The one game that stands out is the FA Cup win over QPR when David Harle scored the winner.

“Players like Brendan O’Callaghan, Peter Kitchen, David Harle stood out to me and then later on the likes of James Coppinger, Brian Stock, Paul Green, Jason Price.

“I’ve been a Doncaster fan for a long time and we want to repeat the success here now.”

Father of two Watson describes it as a proud moment when he first joined the Rovers board, a few years after his father and Bramall became major shareholders in the club.

Though there have been many ups and downs over the past decade, he insists the passion for Rovers remains strong.

And so does a determination to succeed.

“You look back and it seems like just a few years ago but I’ve been a director eight or nine years,” Watson said.

“I remember that first game when we came in. I think it was against Blackpool. A goalless bore draw.

“It wasn’t a great game but somehow we’re still here and it’s great to be still involved.

“It was a proud moment to come in as a Doncaster lad, a sporting person with football in particularly.

“We’re passionate about it, passionate about football and we want to succeed.

“Success on the pitch is the primary goal and then it influences everything else in the club.

“Success is what we want. It costs a lot of money to do this.

“We’ve been involved for ten years, at an average of £1million a year. It’s a lot of money.

“We want to enjoy it as well.

“It’s not great when you’re stood in the directors’ box and you’re being shouted it. We certainly don’t want that.

“Hopefully this season will be a different matter.”

Success for Rovers in the short term is clear: promotion back to League One.

But Watson is looking to the longer term and targeting a strengthening of the club’s fanbase.

A year ago, at the club’s biannual Meet The Owners event, Watson spoke of his pride at seeing an increased number of Rovers shirts on the backs of youngsters in the town.

It was perhaps, at that point, the most he had spoken at such an event but what he said answered any questions over his own passion for the club.

And his desire to increase the size of the wave of new supporters of the club remains a year on.

He said: “It’s great to see kids around the local villages wearing Rovers shirts as opposed to five or ten years ago when it was mainly Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea.

“There’s a notable difference that kids are wearing Rovers shirts.

“My son Archie will be in the U11s in the Academy and the number of kids down at the Keepmoat on nights is incredible.

“There’s 100s of kids here. Long may it continue and may more kids wear Rovers shirts.

“We want them to become fans. We’re trying to develop that more and more so we get more.

“It’s going to take some time to build the fanbase up. We’re not saying it’s going to happen overnight.

“But hopefully it can only have a positive effect.”

There is a distinct possibility Watson could find himself running the club inside the next decade.

Being the figurehead at Rovers is not something from which he would shy away.

“I’m never one to look too far in the future because you never know what is around the corner,” he said.

“If the opportunity was there, I’d be willing to take on that role.

“When that is, nobody knows.

“Obviously there is some strategic planning and that’s one of the reasons I’m in this role now.”

So, with the future of Doncaster Rovers potentially in his hands, what are Watson’s aspirations for the club?

“A successful football club on the pitch,” he said.

“We have to be realistic as to what success is and take it a step at a time.

“Success in the short term is promotion to League One and then build on that.

“And League One to the Championship would be our ultimate goal.

“We’re trying to make it work off the pitch with other initiatives, the Foundation, the education side, the Academy.

“There are lot of future plans to generate income into the club, to make it more successful and be able to provide extra finances for the playing squad.

“But the long term goal is to be in the Championship.”

Deliver Rovers back to the second tier, and those questioning the future will surely be satisfied the club is in good hands.