Paul Goodwin: John Ryan just can’t get Doncaster Rovers out of his system

John Ryan
John Ryan

Resentful. Raging. Resigned, in every sense.

Choose your adjective.

John Ryan has felt almost every emotion there is to feel ever since he boarded the Doncaster Rovers rollercoaster during the club’s darkest hour.

But last November, as the thunder clouds gathered above Barnsley’s Oakwell ground, his patience finally snapped.

The full time whistle signalled the end of a dour goalless stalemate. It was also the cue for the heavens to open, and Ryan’s now infamous departing speech.

However, as the assembled media crammed into a hushed Portakabin to witness Ryan’s final act as chairman, it didn’t really feel like the end of his 15-year love affair with his hometown club.

Sure, Ryan’s fury about the way he perceived takeover talks with Sequentia Capital to have been handled was genuine. He felt betrayed and let down, accusing club ‘compatriots’ of going behind his back during negotiations.

Still, despite his repeated insistence that he was calling it a day, this still didn’t feel like the end. Deep down, Ryan cares too much about Doncaster Rovers.

He struggled to keep his emotions in check that afternoon.

But one thing Ryan can’t hide is his pure and unadulterated passion for the Rovers - so it should be of very little surprise that he is now bidding to wrestle back the power he ultimately gave up on that unforgettable afternoon in Barnsley.

Ryan just can’t let it go when it comes to Doncaster Rovers.

He lives, sleeps and breathes Doncaster Rovers.

Upon his resignation, Ryan initially washed his hands of the club. He was a wounded animal.

He’d been through a lot, and had thought about quitting two years previously when the abuse he took from fans about the failed Willie McKay ‘experiment’ visibly took its toll on the self-made millionaire.

The Sequentia saga was the final straw for a man who has made it his mission to find a golden ticket for his beloved Doncaster Rovers. His anger was unrepentant. His love affair was firmly on hold. But you still got the feeling it wouldn’t end in divorce.

Even when Ryan took himself to sunnier climes in an effort to unwind and relax, and at least attempt to take his mind off football, you just knew that when 3pm on a Saturday afternoon came round he’d be doing everything in his power to check the latest score. In between sun-drenched sessions on his decking, Ryan would be checking the forums, scanning for news, willing his team on from afar. Ryan never stopped being a fan. He never will. And nor will he give up his quest to take Rovers right to the very top. He’s still dreaming.

Ryan was still hurting in a big way at the start of this year. His perception was that Rovers had almost attempted to erase his memory by barely acknowledging him or his resignation through the usual official club channels. That really got to Ryan.

But time is a great healer.

When he moved to praise the job done by Terry Bramall and Dick Watson in his absence during the final week of the season, it was the biggest clue yet that there was some bridge-building goind on behind the scenes.

In no uncertain terms, he’d asked the former to ‘step out from the shadows’ last November. Now, he was effectively presenting him with an olive branch.

Ryan had also re-emerged once more as a visible presence at home games as the season drew to its very unsatisfactory climax. He just couldn’t stay away, could he?

And so to the latest twist; teaming up with One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson in an attempt to re-claim the power he once had. We shouldn’t really be that surprised.

After all, John Ryan just can’t get Doncaster Rovers out of his system. And he’s unlikely to rest until he gets his way either.