Guest Column: I back Rovers against Leeds, says John Buckley

20th June 1986''John Buckley signs for Doncaster Rovers today watched by manager Billy Bremner.
20th June 1986''John Buckley signs for Doncaster Rovers today watched by manager Billy Bremner.

My time at both Doncaster Rovers and Leeds United were some of the happiest of my career, so it’ll be an interesting evening for me at the Keepmoat tonight when the two sides meet in the Capital One Cup.

I absolutely loved it at Doncaster, and I had a couple of great years there. Billy Bremner paid £30,000 for me, and I grew to love the team. Obviously, due to my position with Doncaster Rovers Belles LFC, I’ve grown to love the place too.

One of the first things that Billy said to me was that I might not love the stadium, but I would love the pitch. He was right - the surface at Belle Vue was brilliant, one of the biggest in England at the time, and I really enjoyed playing on it. It suited me and my game.

When Billy left, he said he’d come back and get me and that’s what he did when he took me to Leeds. He seemed to revel in the whole idea that no matter where Leeds went, they were hated - it was part of Leeds’ make up, and you have to have a strong mindset to deal with that. That strong mindset helped us go to a lot of places and turn teams over. It really is a Premier League club in the Championship - everything is there, the stadium, the support. The fans support them through thick and thin, and I loved it at Leeds.

If you were to push me though, I’d have to say I had happier times at Doncaster. If you were to ask me who I want to win on Tuesday, I’d have to say Doncaster too. They are the team that I look for first when I look at the results. I see every home game they play at the Keepmoat as I do some work for the PFA, providing player ratings that get sent to stat companies like Opta.

They’re certainly capable of beating Leeds. Their 3-1 loss to Blackpool was never a 3-1, they were good against Rochdale and played really well against Blackburn, a team tipped by many to be at the top of the table at the end of the season.

A lot of teams sometimes expect Rovers to go under, but they have some real quality players. Richie Wellens is one of course, and James Coppinger has always been a consistent performer. But I’ve been really impressed so far by David Cotterill, and big Rob Jones at the back. Cotterill, by all accounts, is the last to leave the training ground at the end of the day, and that sets a fantastic example for all young players. Paul Dickov has made some excellent additions to the Rovers squad, with the likes of Mark Duffy and Bongani Khumalo.

And if the Keepmoat fans get behind them, they keep the likes of Wellens fit and have a bit of luck, injury-wise, then I see no reason why they can’t finish in mid-table, or maybe even build momentum towards a play-off finish.