Paul Goodwin: Reflections on that night at the stadium, its significance and the bigger picture at Doncaster Rovers

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To the right, to the left, straight ahead - everywhere you looked there was Rovers red and white.

And then came the wall of sound. The volume dial turned to the maximum.

This is what it's all about. Pride, passion, purpose. Even as a non-native it felt joyous, even a tad emotional, to witness. If only it could be, and could have been, like this more often.

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Okay, so the result against Crewe was ultimately a painful one and, a month on, still stings. An opportunity missed to really fast forward Grant McCann's masterplan. The sizzling atmosphere might just have overawed a few.

The scene at a packed Eco-Power Stadium before Doncaster Rovers' play-off semi-final second leg against Crewe Alexandra.The scene at a packed Eco-Power Stadium before Doncaster Rovers' play-off semi-final second leg against Crewe Alexandra.
The scene at a packed Eco-Power Stadium before Doncaster Rovers' play-off semi-final second leg against Crewe Alexandra.

But, in the greater scheme of things, it was also an evening which symbolised Rovers' renaissance under McCann. After a miserable few years this club was finally, and thankfully, back on the right path.

It turns out hiring an experienced manager and investing in the squad was exactly what was needed after all. Who'd have thought eh?

If you build it they will come. For owner and now chairman Terry Bramall, who took the acclaim of the South Stand before kick-off as he walked to his seat, the packed house was a very timely reminder of Rovers' potential - and also a stark reminder of how they are punching below their weight in League Two.

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Just a few months earlier Bramall was feeling the heat from a small section of fans as the club appeared to be heading towards a dogfight just to preserve their EFL status. The sinking ship McCann inherited was taking much longer than anticipated to rescue.

So, surveying the glorious scene at the Eco-Power Stadium, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief more than anything else.

Relief to see supporters re-engaged and reconnected with their football club, particularly the hard core who remained loyal during recent troubled times.

Relief that it is no longer a chore to watch (and report on) Rovers.

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Relief to see a manager in the home dugout who players and fans alike have total belief in.

Tellingly, McCann revealed in his in-house post-season debrief that he walked into a dressing room with a 'sense of no expectation' when he rejoined Rovers last May.

You could argue such a lacklustre attitude stemmed from the very top of the club. Former chairman David Blunt certainly has a lot to answer for when it comes to explaining Rovers' slide from League One promotion contenders to League Two strugglers.

Why Bramall did not intervene sooner, preferably when the club still had third tier status, remains somewhat mystifying.

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But all of the noises currently coming out of the club suggest he now has a renewed determination to leave a positive legacy not just off the pitch but on it too.

Personally speaking, having followed this club's fortunes very closely for the best part of two decades, all I have ever wanted is for it to be the best possible version of itself. Quite clearly that was not the case towards the end of Blunt’s reign. It was notably achieved back in the days of Dave Penney and Sean O'Driscoll but generally speaking, under the umbrella of Club Doncaster, Rovers have gone round in circles somewhat - often rebuilding, twice relegated back to League Two.

Longer term puzzles remain, like succession planning for life after Bramall and McCann.

But with the proper backing from Bramall, McCann at the helm and fans fully on board, Rovers have the platform to rise again. Roll on August!

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