John Ryan: We owe it to you to try and keep King Billy

Rovers' Billy Sharp controls the ball under pressure from City's Sean St. Ledger (l) and Lee Peltier. Picture: Andrew Roe
Rovers' Billy Sharp controls the ball under pressure from City's Sean St. Ledger (l) and Lee Peltier. Picture: Andrew Roe

MY Rovers hero, the late Alick Jeffrey, hogged the headlines and rightly so.

He was some young talent.

But right now we know the name grabbing them in the 21st century - Billy Sharp.

I might be taking a short winter break in Barbados but the hotline between the Keepmoat Stadium, Cantley Park training ground and my mobile has been as hot as the 30 degrees registered on my hotel veranda!

After the inept performance against Notts County, minus King Billy, and with Cardiff City looming on the horizon, vice chairman Dick Watson and I started chatting and we opted to draw up another contract for our prime striker.

It was, as they say these days, a no-brainer after going goalless against the Magpies and now with just one aim to concentrate on - Championship survival.

Dean Saunders was in the loop and he said he wanted to keep him if at all possible to bang in the goals between now and the end of April to keep us in the Championship.

Dean also wants Billy to spearhead a team aimed at the top six for next season.

The only name on our valued fans’ lips right now is that of Billy Sharp.

We owe it to them, as well as the manager and the team, to fight our corner and try and secure his services for as long as possible.

I’ve heard he was off to West Ham for a medical, Southampton were showing him and his partner around the city, and Ipswich could come in - but that’s all from the rumour mongering factory.

Leicester City are the only club to have come in for him so far.

Billy has a clause in his contract allowing him to talk to other clubs past a watershed figure and I have always given him my word.

But any club professing promotion as their number one aim must pay a hefty six figure amount to us should they make it.

We would always also write in a sell-on clause.

However, right now, let us hope nothing comes of this and he is in our side on Saturday come 3pm.

Billy loves it here and simply adores the fans.

He is not in a hurry to move away for the sake of a change of scenery.

He is also a northern lad and there was no way he would go to Ipswich, although I must say their fans were magnificent in the wake of his tragic loss of Luey Jacob.

I’d say if a Premier club came in, and the likes of Stoke City, Sunderland and Wolverhampton have been watching us on a regular basis of late, we would struggle to keep him.

We all know at one stage he will go but if he scores the goals that takes us to safety then he could have even more options for next season.

If he had not been injured at Brighton I reckon we might well have had more points on the board right now as I rate him as the best finisher in the Championship.

He is lethal on his day.

When he pulls that trigger the ball really zips and his accuracy is good, also with his head.

It shows in the stats - 40 goals in 85 league starts for us.

I’ll let you into a little secret that Dick Watson was brought up as a Leicester City fan before he moved to Doncaster.

Right now there is no way Dick wants to see Billy heading off for the East Midlands.

Come 3pm on Saturday, when Billy comes out on that pitch, I want all Rovers fans to give him the biggest cheer he has ever had - and he has had some big cheers lately!

I also, with this extra commitment Dick and I are prepared to make, want to see a full stadium cheering the whole team on to three points.

It won’t be easy but Cardiff did have a setback on Tuesday night in the Carling Cup when they lost their first leg semi-final with Crystal Palace.

Mustapha Dumbuya has, of course, moved to Palace and I’d like to wish him all the very best on loan at Selhurst Park.

I really like the way the former non-league player took his chance with us.

I hear there is good news on the injury front too, with James Chambers back in training and Tommy Spurr back in full training.

It all adds to my optimism that we are going to make a steady climb up that table.

Finally, I was sorry to see QPR part company with my old mate Neil Warnock.

I have always got on well with Neil and he is great company and also a great manager.

He’s had success wherever he has been - Scarborough, Notts County, Plymouth, Oldham, Bury, Sheffield Utd and Crystal Palace.

I look forward to seeing you on Saturday.