Danny Schofield must bring some excitement back to the Eco-Power Stadium

Former Doncaster Rovers boss Gary McSheffrey was never the man to take over from Richie Wellens in the eyes of many supporters and thus was always fighting a battle to prove himself.
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Apart from results, some of which were arguably better than performances deserved, the main bone of contention under McSheffrey was a lack of excitement at games.

Fans want to be entertained and have a degree of optimism about the future as was the case during John Ryan’s time as chairman.

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Hopefully, that will prove to be the case under new boss Danny Schofield.

Danny SchofieldDanny Schofield
Danny Schofield

Some will say that Doncaster-born Schofield failed miserably during his brief spell in charge at ambitious Championship side Huddersfield Town having been promoted from within.

But if he has learned the lessons that shouldn’t count against him in his new role where he will be under less pressure.

In any case, Rovers would have found it hard to bring someone in who had not failed at a previous club.

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I first came across Schofield, who I wish well, when he was playing for Brodsworth Welfare in the Northern Counties East League.

I used to speak to manager Neil Brandon, who was a good judge of a good footballer, every Sunday morning during the season as part of my NCEL round-up, and I remember him regularly singing Schofield’s praises prior to his move into the professional ranks where he proved Neil right over the years.

Like all the people who have taken charge at the club since Sean O’Driscoll was sacked, Schofield will find himself being judged on his achievements even though Rovers are in a different place.

It is unlikely that Rovers will again be playing eye-pleasing football at Championship level any time soon, but realistic to hope that Schofield can steer Rovers in the right direction and make a visit to the Eco-Power Stadium something to look forward to again.

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*Whereas Doncaster Rovers have parted company with several managers in the last six years, Doncaster RLFC have stuck with head coach Richard Horne despite the former Hull FC and Great Britain star having failed to get the Dons out of the third tier since taking over midway through the 2016 season.

There will be Dons’ fans who will have thought that it was time for a change given Horne’s record and almost certainly that would have happened at many other clubs.

Yet, I agree with the decision not to make a change and told Club Doncaster CEO Gavin Baldwin, who I had a social chat with ahead of the club’s Betfred League One play-off semi-final against Rochdale at the Eco-Power Stadium last month, that I rated Horne a good coach and that the Dons should stick with him.

I stand by that decision even though the Dons, who played well enough to have upset the odds and won the game, suffered a second successive play-off final defeat at Swinton.

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I am sure that Horne harbours ambitions to coach at a higher level in the future but unless he achieves success with the Dons he will find it hard to realise those ambitions.

He will also know that there will come a time when the patience of both the club and the fans will run out if he doesn’t win promotion back to the Championship and that could happen as soon as next season.

Fortunately for Horne, I think the 2023 campaign could present the best chance for the club to go up – possibly as champions.

Although clubs have yet to finalise their squads for the 2023 season, I don’t think the promotion race will be as tough as in previous years when the Dons have come up against teams such as Toulouse, York, Bradford, Barrow and Keighley.

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Relegated Workington Town had serious financial worries last season and Rochdale have already announced that they will be operating on a lower budget than last season due to problems with their Football League landlords. Which leaves relegated Dewsbury as the likely threat.

Much will depend on what sort of squad Horne is able to put together.

As was always going to be the case, they’ve already lost several key players but supporters will be encouraged by the fact they’ve been able to retain hooker Greg Burns and half-backs Connor Robinson, who played a leading role in York’s promotion season several years ago, and Ben Johnston, all of whom finished the season well.

Personally, I would like to see the club follow Keighley’s example and put together a strong squad to start the season and look to strengthen throughout with a view of ending the campaign having secured promotion with a squad for the following season 90 per cent in place.

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*October wasn’t a good month for the Rugby Football Union with two Premiership clubs going into administration and therefore facing automatic relegation.

What implications their current situation, and possibly that of other clubs, will have on the Championship promotion race this season and going forward remains to be seen with talk of a ten-club league going forward.

What is not in doubt is that a number of top clubs have been living beyond their means financially in recent years and that should serve as a warning to those Championship clubs, such as Ealing and Doncaster Knights, who aspire to play at Premiership level.

I can’t speak for Ealing, who have splashed the cash in recent years, but I am confident that Knights will not let their hearts rule their heads in their bid to both reach the top flight and establish themselves there if that remains a possibility.

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Ironically, the Premiership’s problems come at a time when, for my money, the game has never been more entertaining to watch at that level with the emphasis more on running with the ball rather than kicking it and endless set-pieces as was often the case during my playing days.

*Cyclist Kevin Dawson is one of Doncaster’s unsung sporting heroes.

Askern-born Dawson dominated the men’s British Best All Rounder championship for the best part of two decades and still holds the record for most wins (eleven).

Dawson won his first-time trial championship back in 1992 having finished runner-up the previous year.

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He again proved the man to beat the following year as he did in 1997, 1998 and 1999.

Dawson, who also won a number of stages in major road races both in the UK and further afield, continued his dominance of the event at the start of the new decade, winning the first four championships,

He won again in 2006 before claiming his final crown in 2007.