Fan Zone: Doncaster Rovers must embrace ‘pub team’ tag

Rovers fans say goodbye to Belle Vue.
Rovers fans say goodbye to Belle Vue.

No al calcio moderno. #AgainstModernFootball. Supporters, not customers.

There is a growing trend across Europe for football supporters who are fed up with the modern football experience to take to social and print media, voicing their frustration and disenfranchisement with the beautiful game. Why is it happening, what’s going wrong and how can Doncaster Rovers protect themselves from the apathy striking the football-going public?

They are all important questions of which the club’s owners and board must be well aware, but perhaps at a club like the Rovers it’s even more difficult to manage. The club has now enjoyed over a decade of relative success and the trappings associated with it. A shiny concrete bowl stadium, increased attendances and plying their trade at the highest level the club has ever achieved are all signals of success but with that comes responsibility.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a supporter who didn’t love beating Leeds at Wembley or burst into unbridled joy when James Coppinger found the back of Brentford’s net. Those moments are what supporters live for but there have been plenty of other experiences over the years that are dearly missed. It’s easy to be dewy-eyed nostalgic when reminiscing about Belle Vue. Standing close enough for players to hear and respond to witty shouts from the terraces. Buying proper burgers, fried on a hot plate in the snack bars. Spontaneous songs being brought to life by a bunch of men who didn’t exist to one another outside the bubble of the football terrace. Talk to many supporters over the age of 25 and they’ll tell you that’s what supporting the Rovers feels like. That’s ‘proper’ football.

The way Rovers have championed fan involvement through the ‘In Rovers We Trust’ scheme is to be applauded as it shows their recognition of the crucial part the supporters play in a club, particularly when that club is so under-resourced compared to its competitive set. There does come a point though when things become over-engineered, plastic or fake. That’s not what Doncaster Rovers are about. They’re the antithesis of the “boutique club”. Rovers fans have never been concerned by fashion. That’s why they support Rovers, not Man Utd, Leeds or Chelsea. That’s why the ‘pub team’ tag has endured and must continue to do so.

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