Now is inevitably a time to reflect on another eventful year at Doncaster Rovers.
I don’t think anyone ever believed we’d be facing a relegation battle in the Championship, much less demotion itself.
We were very unlucky to go down after that James Husband tackle at Leicester City conceded a penalty to a team who were phoning it in against us, with not much left to prove, and no burning desire to relegate us.
No one man was responsible, not even Paul Dickov.
The only single man that meant anything that day was one of us – supporter Ray Dunning, who tragically passed away after collapsing during the game. Leicester’s classy response to the incident subsequently formed an unlikely bond between the two clubs, reminding us that football can unite people despite its often divisive nature.
Nonetheless, relegation meant that the club, rather than seeking a scapegoat, reinforced the belief that we didn’t deserve relegation and gave Dickov a vote of confidence.
However, if Dickov’s first pre-season was overshadowed by takeover talk thanks to John Ryan’s mysterious friends over at Sequentia Capital, the summer of 2014 saw dark clouds raining on Rovers’ pre-season parade, with Ryan’s apparent return to the fold with local celebrity Louis Tomlinson failing at the eleventh hour after the league requested further evidence of finance.
Ten days of effective pre-season training were left for Dickov and his team of left-overs, inevitably leading to a very shaky start to the new season.
The impatient, petulant, younger fans among us unsurprisingly bought into the modern-day football culture of quick-fix solutions and scapegoats but sure enough, as the club stuck by their business model of striving for long-term sustainability, so they also stood by Dickov, who has begun to recover from the pre-season farce and settle us down into a club just five points from the play-off positions with a game in hand on many other teams.
Let’s just hope any optimistic expectations we have now are not met by the same unpleasant surprises of last season.
The toughest test begins now.