Expert corner: Brian Makepeace

FULL back Brian Makepeace, Rovers' oldest surviving captain, made 380 appearances for the club between 1951 and 1961. Born in Rossington he worked at the local colliery before joining Jackie Bestall's Doncaster side on a part-time basis as a 17-year-old. Now aged 77 Brian was a key member of the side that spent eight seasons in the old Division Two and also played in every game of the marathon 1955 FA Cup tie with Aston Villa - which Rovers finally won after a fourth replay!

ROVERS were my only league club so it is obviously a club still close to my heart.

Football has changed beyond belief since my days (not least the wages!) and there are different playing systems altogether these days.

But, quite honestly, I preferred my time rather than today - particularly for me, being a defender.

It seems to me that those in charge of the game are trying to take the tackling, particularly 50-50 challenges, out of the game.

I know referees have a difficult job but some of the decisions can be baffling at times.

Players from my generation wouldn't be able to get away with some of the tackles we used to make nowadays!

Obviously styles are different between then and now but our team spirit was good and we had an excellent manager in Peter Doherty.

He was an inspirational figure to everybody in the dressing room.

I would say our team compared favourably to the current Doncaster side.

Our team was very workmanlike, had great spirit and helped each other - all key components of a successful side.

The key players were Bert Tindill, who was quite prominent in attack, and centre half Bill Paterson - and then there was Alick Jeffrey.

Alick had the potential to be a great player and he was very good for his age at that time.

But he could have been even better had he managed to avoid injury.

If he were playing in today's game I think he would hold his own at the highest level with his skill and he certainly would have the desire to do well.

Looking at current players who are comparable to Alick, I would have to say Steven Gerrard comes to mind.

He is a skilful player, who is also very workmanlike, and along with his ability Alick's great strength was his workrate.

I have very happy memories of all five games we played against Villa which we finally won when Alick, who had only just turned 16, scored twice!

We played at Doncaster in the first game and, if my memory serves me right, there were no goals in that game.

Despite Villa being a First Division side they were all very close games.

It was drilled into us by the manager that we could beat them and that they were not as good as we thought they were.

It gave us the confidence we needed to keep battling and that's what carried us through to winning the tie.

That's how the current team need to think going into the replay.

Rovers have probably got over the fact they were playing a Premier League club and have seen that these blokes are not that much better than them.

Now they know they can compete with them and are still in with a shout even though they have to go to Villa Park.

If they can carry on what they are doing and don't afford Villa the time and space to play the football they can, then they could win it.

Prediction: The great win at Sheffield United will give Rovers confidence for the Norwich game and I think they will continue their winning streak with a 2-1 victory. Villa will be tough but, if things go well, we can nick it 1-0.

Free Press prediction: A hard fought 1-0 win over Norwich before Rovers force extra time with a 2-2 draw at Villa.