Talking Sport Now & Then: Doncaster Athletic Club set to hit ground running

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Doncaster Athletic Club are set to hit the ground running in the opening weeks of the 2024 track and field season

Preparations for the club’s popular Open meeting on Saturday April 27 are well underway and chairman Kev Lincoln said: “We already have around 100 entries and we are on track to reach our target of 300.

As well as the usual club league fixtures the club’s track will again be hosting a number of other meetings.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Site bookings have increased from last year with most local primary and secondary schools booking for sports days, including some new customers from outside the region due to unavailability of other sites with repair issues,” said Lincoln this week.

Doncaster Athletic Club chairman Kev LincolnDoncaster Athletic Club chairman Kev Lincoln
Doncaster Athletic Club chairman Kev Lincoln

“All athletic clubs around the country face a detailed inspection of their sites by UK Athletics to test their fitness for operating. This includes, track, jump beds, throws net, sand pits, equipment, disability access and general facilities.

“At a time when local authority-controlled sites are struggling with investment, we benefit from ongoing investment to prevent any long-term issues.

“This year will see the delivery of a £16,000 pole vault landing bed and cover, to be protected by a handmade metal construction, which can be wheeled on and off, when needed. Our long jump pits will also receive three tons of new sanitised sand and an updated measuring gauge.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He added: “Moving forward, the club is considering the installation of photo finish and electronic timing. Technology is changing all the time but the plan requires

a careful consideration of costs as well as training and staffing.

“All clubs lost a generation of teenage athletes due to lockdown but we are slowly getting our membership back to the pre-pandemic days of 400 and we currently have just under 300 members.”

Lincoln admits that the sport is finding it a challenge to replace ageing officials but claims: “Our volunteers, directors and members are working hard to sustain our reputation as the best club and site in the Yorkshire and Humberside region.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

*Doncaster RLFC recently appointed Josh Riding as their new head of development.

Josh, who has been in post for several weeks, hopes to build on the foundations built by Martin Rowlands during his three spells in the role.

Having worked for former Super League club Wakefield Trinity as a development manager during which time he was also involved with the club’s Academy and scholarship programme as well coaching the Scottish U20s squad, Josh is well suited to his new role.

“Coming from Castleford where (almost) everyone plays rugby league (at sometime in their lives) the thing that I’ve noticed since being here is that Doncaster is almost the exact opposite and football is very strong over here,” he told me.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“But I’ve also found that there is an appetite to learn about the game in the local schools that I’ve visited and ‘ll be running some festivals going forward and also working with schools throughout the year delivering holiday camps which will cater for primary school pupils, some of whom were involved in Sunday’s game against Sheffield Eagles.

“A lot of the kids have never been to a game before but we gave them some free tickets and showed them around the club and we are hoping that having been here they will want to come back.

“We are also launching a Future Dons Pathway aimed at 12-16 year olds and we’ll also be running some coaching development sessions. So, there is an opportunity for anyone at any of the community clubs we are working with – and that includes some outside of Doncaster - whether it is a young player or a 40 year-old coach, to get involved and benefit.”

I wish Josh well in a role what has proved to a real challenge over the years going back to Ralph Rimmer, who went on to become the chief executive of the Rugby Football League and who is now, I believe, working in the rival code in an official capacity.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

*Of all the players to have turned out for Doncaster Rovers over the years, few have done better after hanging up their boots than striker Graeme Jones who was brought to Belle Vue from Bridlington Town by Ken Richardson.

Jones, who scored 30 goals during his time at the club, was quite an engaging character and I remember on a few occasions he would come and sit next to me on the team coach as I made a start to my report prior to leaving the ground.

Jones rarely had a bad game in his own mind though he wasn’t a bad footballer and as far as I know he still holds the goals-in-a-season record at Wigan, who he joined after leaving Rovers.

“A nine today, Steve,” he would say in reference to the marks I gave to players from both teams at the time whereas quite often I would be thinking a couple less.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He often said it with a cheeky grin but I think he meant it. He didn’t forget either and would pass comment on how I’d marked him the next time but we never fell out over it and he came into the press room to say ‘hello’ following a home game against Swansea where he was the No 2.

Currently the No 2 at Premier Division Newcastle, Jones has previously worked as a No 2, or similar role, at Everton, the Belgium national side which finished third in the 2018 World Cup, and Luton Town, prior to enjoying a short spell in charge of the Hatters.

He also worked under former team-mate Darren Moore, with whom he struck up a lasting friendship during their time at Belle Vue, at West Bromwich Albion as well as featuring in the England set-up at the 2020 Euros.