"We don’t want to be getting away with it, we want it to be true" - Richie Wellens tasked with restoring Doncaster Rovers' identity

Richie Wellens has been charged with bringing back the substance behind Doncaster Rovers’ tag of ‘the Arsenal of the north.’

By Liam Hoden
Thursday, 27th May 2021, 7:01 am

During their four year spell in the Championship from 2008 onwards, Rovers were regularly compared to the Gunners due to their eye-catching possession football.

Chief executive Gavin Baldwin says the phrase is still regularly used when he meets people within the game but admits he does not think it is still valid to describe Rovers that way.

He is however convinced that new manager Wellens can restore such lofty status to the club with his own philosophy for how the game should be played.

Richie Wellens

“I genuinely got upset last year because I felt we lost our identity,” Baldwin told the Free Press.

“I used to genuinely drive to games on a Saturday and look forward to watching Doncaster Rovers play. “I was proud of how we played and the style we played.

“The second half of the season, and before that too probably, I felt we lost all our identity, how we play, who we are, what we are as a team.

“When I meet and speak to people now, they still say ‘Oh, Doncaster Rovers, their playing philosophy is brilliant, the Arsenal of the north.’

“Can you say that we were like that at the end of last season?

“But we have that reputation and we’re getting away with it.

“That is what we need. We don’t want to be getting away with it, we want it to be true.

“And we believe that Richie will bring that to the table.

“Speaking to Richie in interviews, it was all about identity, how we play, pressing, front foot, attacking.

“That was major because it was exciting me and I’m sure it will excite the fans too.

“But equally, he knows the division and he knows the players in League One.”

The new look Rovers leadership team, including talent ID manager Graham Younger and advisor James Coppinger, carried out their first recruitment meeting last week with the green light given to pursue several of Wellens’ targets.

The Rovers boss is away on holiday with his family for the next week but jetted off confident of being close to securing his first signing.


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.