Omar Bogle on his Doncaster Rovers exile, not giving up hope and his determination to repay the faith

He may have been in the wilderness for 15 weeks but Omar Bogle insists he never gave up hope of turning out for Doncaster Rovers again.

Sunday, 23rd January 2022, 4:00 pm
Updated Sunday, 23rd January 2022, 4:17 pm
Omar Bogle

Though involved during the first month of the season, Bogle was exiled by then-boss Richie Wellens who was determined to hammer home his desire to move the striker on before the closing of the transfer window.

When deadline day came and went without an exit for Bogle, he was banished to train with the youth team along with midfielder Ed Williams, with Wellens reiterating he had no intention of selecting either man again.

But it would be Wellens to leave the club first when he was sacked at the start of December.

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It paved the way for a return to the fold for Bogle and Williams, particularly as youth team boss Gary McSheffrey was handed the reins, initially on a caretaker basis.

Within a week of McSheffrey taking charge, Bogle had made a substitute appearance and has been regularly involved in the side since, including grabbing his first goal of the season against Wigan Athletic at the weekend.

Wellens may have maintained a steadfastly stubborn stance over Bogle’s role within his squad but the striker himself always believed he would get a second chance with Rovers, one way or another.

“Being honest, my focus was always about trying to get back into the team here, by hook or by crook,” he told the Free Press.

“I’ve been happy at the club and I’m settled here so it was always about working for the opportunity to get back in.

“It’s important that when I’ve got the opportunity, I take it.

“There was always the possibility that something would come up in January and I’d have to move on but I wasn’t focused on that. It was about getting back in.”

The 29-year-old admits he endured a difficult time during the period immediately after being banished from the first team set up by Wellens.

But he feels the welcoming environment laid on by McSheffrey and his youth team players saw him quickly gain focus.

And there was never any danger he would be in for an easier ride away from the senior squad.

“After the first few weeks, it was fine and I kind of got my head around it,” he said.

“I knew I just needed to crack on and make the best of a bad situation. That’s what both me and Ed did.

“The youth team players and staff were unbelievable with us.

“And we tried to help the boys as much as we could.

“You have to embrace the situation you’re in, try to enjoy it and work hard, which is what we did.

“We worked really hard. The youth team are doing their running every single day, which was good for us.

“We did extra sessions away from the club because we knew that when you’re not playing games, training isn’t enough when you’re not getting the 90 minutes.

“It’s not the same as match fitness from a game. You don’t get that.

“I remember the first game against Oxford and my bearings were all over the place because it’d been the first time I’d been out there for months.

“As the games go on, and I’m involved, I’ll keep getting fitter.”

Maintaining the right attitude was important for Bogle who, along with Williams, proved a popular addition to the youth team set up.

The pair was vocal supporters of the U18s in their FA Youth Cup tie at the Eco-Power Stadium earlier this season.

Approaching his time with the group in a professional manner would ultimately pay off when McSheffrey was plucked out of youth coaching and handed the senior role.

“There are players that have been in that same situation before and their attitude and approach are all wrong,” Bogle said.

“When something like that happens, and the youth team manager takes charge of the first team, he could easily have thought you’ve been with us for three months and not shown anything positive.

“It was natural for me to be how I was. No one would have known Gaz would get the job!”

Sitting on the sidelines as Rovers struggled on the pitch this season was not an easy experience for Bogle, who admits to feeling frustrated at being unable to join the cause.

But he is determined to play his part in the relegation battle over the next few months.

“These boys aren’t just my team mates, they’re my friends,” he said. “So naturally you want to help them.

“It’s a great club so it’s hard to see when the team is not getting the results they should be getting. It’s even more frustrating when you see the quality in the team.

“I know we’ve got loads of good players.

“I’m here now and the gaffer has given me an opportunity. He’s shown me that he believes in me and it’s up to me now to get match fit and help the boys as best I can.

“That will only come by playing matches and trying to score as many goals as I can to help the team get out of the position we’re in, keep us in this league and build some momentum for next year.”

Bogle was welcomed back with open arms by Rovers supporters who sang his name long before he came off the bench with 21 minutes to go against Oxford for a re-debut of sorts.

And he has appreciated the support he has received from all quarters.

“It meant a lot,” he said.

“At a point I didn’t think it was going to happen.

“It means that hard work pays off.

“It was hard in the first few weeks but then we got our heads down and the opportunity was there.

“I guess it’s football. That’s all you can put it down to.

“It’s been a difficult time but you live and you learn.

“I’ve come out of the other side of it a stronger person and stronger mentally.

“I pray to god that I never have to experience it again.”

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In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.