Steve Hossack: Ex-Rovers man still has Links with town

Nathan Stanton, Head Coach and John McGrath, Founder Director, have formed a football academy. Picture: Marie Caley D5534MC
Nathan Stanton, Head Coach and John McGrath, Founder Director, have formed a football academy. Picture: Marie Caley D5534MC

Former Doncaster Rovers footballer John McGrath finds himself in competition with Dave Penney, the man who brought him to the town a decade ago.

McGrath’s recently-formed Academy Links kicked-off a six-week football coaching course at Balby Carr, where his former manager operates from, last Friday night.

The course, which operates from 5pm-6pm for six to eight-year-olds, and between 6pm-7pm for nine to 12-year-olds, got off to a promising start with over 45 youngsters enrolling, including around a dozen who attend Rovers’ Academy where McGrath has worked for the last couple of years.

He also plans to run a course for under-16s at the same venue before the end of the year.

The 33 year-old joined Rovers after impressing Penney playing for Dagenham and Redbridge in the club’s final season in the Conference, and moved to Belle Vue ahead of the 2003-04 campaign.

Unfortunately, the personable former Aston Villa prospect made just 14 appearances for Rovers during his two-year contract.

“I picked up an injury and then couldn’t get back into the side because the lads in the team were playing so well, and I went out on loan in my second season,” he recalled at his Warmsworth home, where he has continued to live with his wife and family since moving to South Yorkshire.

Since leaving Rovers, McGrath has played for teams such as Burton, where he was Player of the Year, and York City, and is currently turning out for high-flying Conference side Alfreton.

McGrath feels that he has several more years as a player but is already planning for his future.

As well as enrolling on a media course, he will shortly complete the final part of his Uefa ‘B’ coaching course.

“I set the Academy up because coaching is something that I enjoy doing and something that people say that I’m good at,” he said.

“I intend being hands on and I’ll be doing the coaching myself along with Nathan Stanton, who recently retired with a knee injury after playing for Burton, Scunthorpe and Rochdale.

“I’m also talking to a man who has played Premiership football.”

McGrath is also looking at setting up a course in the Thorne area. As well as skills coaching, McGrath claims his courses will offer advice on things such as nutrition, fitness and life skills and will give an insight into the life of a professional footballer.

Former Doncaster defender Darren Moore is the course ambassador.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Academy-Links, or wanting to enrol for the current course at £30 for the remaining five weeks, should contact McGrath on 07519 610652.