Richie Wellens' conviction has paid off - and it should for Doncaster Rovers too: Liam Hoden column

The surroundings could not have been more different. A cramped and creaking snackbar in the bowels of Oldham Athletic’s Boundary Park home. A plush executive box overlooking the pristine Keepmoat pitch.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 12:06 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th May 2021, 12:54 pm

Five years or so had passed between my in-person meetings with Richie Wellens

But in both he spoke with tremendous passion about managing Doncaster Rovers.

All those years ago, we were queuing for a half time cuppa on an afternoon where Wellens was on media duty for a game which saw two of his former clubs going head to head.

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Richie Wellens

At the time, he had not yet begun his journey into management but was picking up experience in the academy set-up of Manchester United, from which he emerged as a player.

But, even back then, he had a conviction that he would one day be in charge of Rovers.

Fast forward to the executive box and Wellens sat across a table as Doncaster Rovers manager, speaking with the self-same determination.

It was that conviction and determination, coupled with a clear idea of how he would mould Rovers, that ultimately landed the 41-year-old the opportunity he had long craved.

His second interview during the recruitment process had been a triumph. Those present felt he would have crawled over hot coals to get the job.

His enthusiasm has not waned since he was handed the reins either, as he demonstrated with the passion he showed as he met the media for the first time as Rovers boss.

Wellens spoke with real clarity about what he feels Rovers need and what he can bring to the party. It suggested the formulation of his plans stretch back much longer than the last fortnight.

The decline towards the end of last season left Wellens with a few open goals as he sent out his first messages to Rovers’ supporter base.

That he hit the target with his words should not take away from the fact there was plenty of thought and depth behind the answers he gave.

He has very clear and realistic ideas of how to not only rectify the issues that caused the decline but get Rovers back to where they have been before.

There is certainly an element of proving people wrong, or at the very least setting the record straight about the calibre of manager that he is.

Wellens needs to get this job right and he is more aware of that than anyone else. He’s had successes in each of his three jobs so far, but it is perceived failures that ring out for louder and longer.

The thick streak of determination in him will serve him well going forward. And it should serve Rovers well too.

Emerging from that executive box after a 90 minute round of interviews with Wellens, Noel Hunt, Gavin Baldwin, Graham Younger and James Coppinger, it was difficult not to feel excited.

It is undoubtedly the start of a new era for Rovers with a fresh leadership team and pretty much as close to a clean slate as you can get with a squad in need of a rebuild.

And the man in the driving seat has a natural knack for stoking excitement himself.


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.