COMMENT: A club united - why Doncaster Rovers are better together

Doncaster Rovers' celebrate their winning goal against Swindon Town.
Doncaster Rovers' celebrate their winning goal against Swindon Town.

Hands up. Who watched Portsmouth relegate Rovers a year ago this weekend and dared to dream about an instant return to the Championship?

Nope. Not many of you. A divided dressing room and summer exodus were hardly grounds for optimism.

But a year is a long time in football.

And it’s even longer at Doncaster Rovers - a club who rarely do tedious mid-table.

Promotion is still not a forgone conclusion. There’s work to do yet.

But we can all still draw our own conclusions as to why Rovers have followed up one of their most catastrophic seasons with one of their most consistent.

A top end League One budget, solid management, clever recruitment, damn right hard work; all valid reasons for the resurgence.

But one reason stands head and shoulders above the rest for me, and if Rovers finish the job it should be the blueprint for Championship survival. Togetherness.

Last season no fewer than 41 players pulled on the red and white hoops.

Players have since admitted that the training ground was a tense, divided environment. Certain players did not see eye to eye. The result, relegation.

Then Cantley Park’s revolving door instead became a welcome sign for a group of players with one thing in common - a belief that they should be playing in the Championship.

Together, united by their goal and a principle that hard work gets results, they stand on the verge of achieving exactly that.

The big difference? This season 26 players have been called upon - a close knit group who want success for each other, and who have ALL played their part when called upon.

Take Kyle Bennett. He’s had his ups and downs this season, he’s been in and out of the side, but he’s also made big contributions.

Likewise James Husband. On the bench now, but a key man since the turn of the year.

Everyone has chipped in.

That sense of belonging, desire and identity, which dissolved last season as a short sighted plan based on short term success backfired, is back with a vengeance.

And whichever division Doncaster end up in next season, sticking together is paramount.