“We call him Tommy Ferguson.”
Asked to name the ‘teacher’s pet’ at Doncaster Rovers in a recent interview, John Marquis had only one teammate in mind – Tommy Rowe.
It is not hard to see the special relationship between Darren Ferguson and the midfielder, one that earns him plenty of stick from the rest of the Rovers squad.
Rowe was signed by Ferguson for Peterborough United in 2009 and was made captain during the manager’s second spell in charge.
Undoubtedly, the relationship played a significant role in Rowe agreeing to drop into League Two this season despite interest from within the two divisions above.
The eight year relationship is never going to be seen as anything but something to gently poke fun at in the dressing room.
Good thing Rowe brushes it off rather easily then.
“The lads have a bit of banter with me about that,” he told the Free Press with a smile.
“Obviously I’ve been with him for seven or eight years of my career so we’ve got a great understanding.
“He will talk to me quite often about things and I will be honest with him.
“It’s just one of them.”
As Rovers have powered towards promotion this season, several players have enjoyed their best campaigns for some time, Rowe included.
The 28-year-old has netted 12 goals and made 13 assists so far this season.
John Marquis sits on 23 goals – more than 40 per cent of his career tally – while veteran James Coppinger has turned back the clock.
Rowe believes Ferguson deserves a great deal of credit for getting the best out of his players this term.
And he says Ferguson giving the squad respect and freedom has been key to that.
He said: “It’s always helped me to be open with the way we play.
“He’ll be open about the way I play and if he thinks I’ve not performed then he’ll tell me and I’ll have to react to it.
“It’s been a good season for me so far because he’s allowed me to play in different positions.
“There’s times when you want to play in a position which benefits you more but it’s about the team.
“This is what this club has been good at this season – players playing out of position and doing excellent in there.
“Matty Blair for instance has played at right back quite a lot and he’s been amazing all season, and in midfield.
“We’ve got Craig Alcock, Niall Mason, boys all over the place.
“They’re not in their natural positions but I think you get that respect from the gaffer and it gives you that confidence to go out there.
“It comes from that really.”