Your away day guide to Doncaster Rovers’ opening fixtures of new season

Jack Peat, author of the Great Pie Revolt: A Gastronomic Guide to the Football League, gives a rundown of the best food and drink spots for Doncaster Rovers fans ahead of the new season.

By Jack Peat
Thursday, 28th July 2022, 10:36 am

Brutalist breweries, submerged city pubs and one of London’s finest craft beer bars awaits travelling Rovers fans at the start of new season.

With League Two fixtures getting underway early this season owing to a winter World Cup there will be plenty on offer for those hitting the road for a good away day this summer.

Rovers kick off the season away to Bradford City on Saturday and then host Sutton United in what will be the first time the two clubs have met in over 20 years.

A general view outside of Bradford City's Utilita Energy Stadium. Photo: George Wood/Getty Images

That’s followed by trips to Wimbledon and Northampton, who will both be looking to be in the running for the automatic promotion spots by the end of the season.

A food and drink guide to the Football League

Speaking to Doncaster Free Press ahead of the season’s opening games, Jack Peat, author of The Great Pie Revolt: A Gastronomic Guide to the Football League, is urging fans to look beyond the food and drink spots within the vicinity of the stadium and instead indulge in the rich variety of cafes, pubs and microbreweries that are often just a short walk away.

Peat said: “There has never been a better time for travelling fans to experience the rich tapestry of local food and drink spots across the Football League.

“Those making the trip to see Rovers away can enjoy a feast of brilliant places before and after the game, adding to the overall enjoyment of their day out.”

Peat’s inspiration for the book came following a thrilling 3-2 win for Rovers against Southend United at the start of 2018/19 season.

“I almost missed that game because I was having so much fun eating local seafood and drinking local beer in beer garden nearby,” he said.

“It was at that point I realised that away days can be about so much more than the football.

“Every club in the Football League has its own culinary identity, so you can kill two birds with one stone if you are minded to seek them out.”

Peat has compiled a full rundown of Rovers’ opening fixtures using extracts from his book, which is available in Waterstones now.

It all kicks off with a trip to Yorkshire rivals Bradford, and an interesting anecdote about their famous amber and claret kit.

Bradford City

When do Doncaster Rovers play Bradford City?

Doncaster Rovers and Bradford City will meet at the Utilita Energy Stadium on July 30.

What is its culinary connection?

Although the origins of Bradford City’s signature claret and amber kit are disputed, it has been widely claimed that they are probably based on the resemblance to the colours of either wine and beer or rhubarb and custard. The city once formed part of Yorkshire’s Rhubarb Triangle, famed for producing ‘early forced’ rhubarb, and the local produce would have provided a welcome warm pudding after a cold winter’s fixture. Today Bradford has a proud culinary scene that has evolved to incorporate a compelling mix of traditional and international cuisine. Its reputation for Asian food is well established and it frequently takes the mantle of the Curry Capital of the UK. But be sure not to overlook its real ale heritage, with stunning beers from Timothy Taylors, Saltaire Brewery and Bingley Brewery all keeping the city well watered.

Where are the best places to drink?

Sunbridge Wells, Millergate, BD1 1SD

Take a walk back in time in Bradford’s historic tunnels which have served as prison cells, an air raid shelter and a soul club over its time. The subterranean maze of bars, shops and eateries work as a perfect pre or post-match boozer with a good range of Saltaire beer on for a really affordable price. A five-minute walk from either Foster Square or Bradford Interchange.

Where are the best places to eat?

Sultan Restaurant, 204-206 Keighley Rd, BD9 4JZ

A stone’s throw away from Valley Parade, the Sultan Restaurant is widely regarded as the best curry house in the UK’s Curry Capital. Boasting an intriguing menu that isn’t beholden to the usual Anglo-Indian staples, you are treated to an authentic experience and an economical one at that. Be sure to try the Chicken Karahi, which is served with salad, a mint yoghurt dip and warm, fluffy, home-made chapatis.

AFC Wimbledon

When do Doncaster Rovers play AFC Wimbledon?

Doncaster Rovers and AFC Wimbledon will meet at Cherry Red Records Stadium on August 13.

What is its culinary connection?

Vegan, litter-picking recyclers with a distaste for food waste tend to be associated with the trendier east end parts of London these days, but it wasn’t always that way. In the 1970s, out for a walk in the Common, Elisabeth Beresford’s young daughter mispronounced ‘Wimbledon’ as ‘Wombledon’, thus planting a seed of inspiration in her mother’s mind. Shortly after Britain was graced with fury, eco-conscious little creatures which made it their life’s work to tidy up after humans as they went about their messy, daily business. Living on a veritable diet of plants, fungi and tree products that even the most adventurous hipster might not dare try, they gauged on acorn juice, elm bark casserole and grassbread sandwiches as staple parts of the menu. Fifty years on and vegan cafes lie within walking distance of the park and a Womble known as ‘Haydon’ makes regular appearances at home games at the reclaimed Plough Lane stadium. As the song goes, he remains ‘underground, overground, wombling free’.

Where are the best places to drink?

The Wimbledon Brewery, Unit 8, College Fields Business Centre, SW19 2PT

When William Cook started The Wimbledon Brewery in 1832 there were 115 breweries in the London excise district. Today there are roughly the same amount, but their composition has changed drastically over the ages. Thankfully at Wimbledon things have remained much the same, and you can enjoy their ales in a lovely Tap Room which serves up a variety of fresh cask and keg beer.

Where are the best places to eat?

Windmill Tea Rooms, Windmill Rd, SW19 5NQ

Passed down through generations of the same family, the Windmill Tea Rooms in Wimbledon Common offers one of the best breakfasts in the area and by far the best vantage point for spying wombles. Their full English can be enjoyed with black pudding, bubble and fried bread if you so choose.

Northampton Town

When do Doncaster Rovers play Northampton Town?

Doncaster Rovers and Northampton Town will meet at Sixfields Stadium on August 27.

What is its culinary connection?

In April 2019, Danish multinational brewers Carlsberg were forced into an embarrassing admission. Contrary to a longstanding slogan and sizeable marketing efforts they confessed they were probably not the best beer in the world and had instead become too preoccupied with “being the biggest”, a legacy they wished to undo by completely rebrewing the tipple “from head to hop” and relaunching with a more “honest” marketing campaign that would drive reappraisal. The new ‘pilsner’ would also do away with previous associations with ‘beer’ which came into being when the initial slogan was first dreamt up at the company’s brutalist brewery in Northampton on the banks of the River Nene. Inspired by a Danish longship, the building was awarded the Financial Times’ Industrial Architecture Prize in 1975 in recognition of its strong geometric form and a large glass gable end which exposes the tanks and pipes of the brewing equipment. It still stands today, and you might say it is among the most striking breweries in the world, probably.

Where are the best places to drink?

The Malt Shovel Tavern, 121 Bridge St, NN1 1QF

Dressed in the style of a Belgian beer cafe, The Malt Shovel Tavern is a superb real ale pub located in the back garden of the Carlsberg brewery. Not that you will find much of the world’s greatest down here. Expect ales from Hook Norton, Oakham Ales and Phipps instead.

Where are the best places to eat?

The Good Loaf, 1 Overstone Rd, NN1 3JL

When restaurant critic and MasterChef judge William Sitwell declared Northamptonshire Britain's “most foodie county” he did so because, in part, it produces over 687 million loaves of bread a year. Sample a hearty range for yourself at The Good Loaf, where you will find sandwiches and paninis using locally-sourced ingredients. The pastrami and Monterey Jack cheese come highly recommended.