Doncaster Rovers v Sunderland: Chris Brown’s got a foot in both camps

Chris Brown
Chris Brown

“I’m going to have to say a draw, otherwise I’ll get pelters.”

It’s no surprise that Chris Brown is sitting on the fence ahead of Doncaster Rovers v Sunderland tonight.

He was born in Doncaster and, during two spells at both ends of his career, became a crowd favourite at Rovers.

But his broad Mackem accent tells you it was Sunderland where he was raised, coming through the ranks at the Stadium of Light to launch a professional career which ended rather prematurely through injury two years ago.    

“It's great to see both teams doing well,” said Brown, 33.

“Grant McCann's come in and rejuvenated the squad at Doncaster. His recruitment has been very good.

“I haven’t seen any of the games but I’ve seen some of the goals and the way he’s got them playing. 

“The new ownership’s rejuvenated Sunderland and a massive cloud has been lifted. The fans are really getting behind them and it reminds me of the time when Niall Quinn took over the club and I was playing.

“There seems to be a positive energy around the club and that can transfer onto the pitch.

“I think they’re a few points off the top but they’re too good a team not to go up from that league.

“It’ll be a proper test for Donny.”

Brown has pinpointed a former Rovers teammate and an unlikely free transfer signing from Bury as key to the contest.

“The main man for Sunderland is Chris Maguire,” he said. “I know Josh Maja’s got the goals but it’s Maguire making them tick at the moment and he’s been a great find for them on a free transfer.

“You’ve got to look at Copps as well.

“It’s going to be who is more influential on the game.”

Brown is backing both clubs to last the course in League One as they seek a return to the Championship.

He said: “There’s 12 or 13 games gone now, it’s not as if we’re talking two or three games in.

“We’re a quarter of the season in and they’re up there.

“It’s a bit worrying the amount of goals Rovers concede at times but the fans must be happy.

“I think both sets of fans will be happy. Sunderland’s fans are just enjoying going to the games again.

“So I can see both teams being up there at the end of the season.

“I think Sunderland are a bit too good not to go up and I think Donny will be there or thereabouts in the play-offs. 

“You’re always guaranteed goals with big John [Marquis] so if you can keep him fit they’ll do well.

“That league is all about momentum. When we got promoted in 2013 we didn’t play great every week but we picked up results.

“I think Donny have got enough in their team to grind out results, especially with the experience they’ve got.”