Talking Sport Now & Then: Rovers should honour legendary reporter

Whilst clearing out some drawers at home over Christmas I came across a Doncaster Rovers’ Supporters Club York Road branch Inter Branch sports quiz winners medal dating back to the 1985-86 season.
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​I can’t remember who else was in the press team, but I do remember Peter Catt being involved.

I suspect that neither of us still expected to be involved in the Doncaster sporting scene nearly 40 years later - albeit in a lower profile capacity since our respective retirements.

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I’ve covered the Dons since the late 70s and I’m still helping the Free Press out with match reports and previews as well as writing this fortnightly column. I also covered Rovers for many years but even my long association with the Doncaster sporting scene can’t beat that of Peter.

Peter CattPeter Catt
Peter Catt

Despite being a lifelong Rovers supporter Peter generally managed to avoid seeing games through red and white tinted glasses during his long career in print journalism which is not always easy to do.

Perhaps the only time he let his opinion be coloured by his love for the club was when it came to predicting how they would do during his time at the Free Press when, on occasions, his pre-season predictions proved to be too optimistic.

After working as a freelance for many years, providing reports for the Doncaster Evening Post, The Star, Yorkshire Post and the Press Association, Peter enjoyed a spell as sports editor of this paper before working for Rovers’ media department.

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He has been a valuable member of Rovers’ match-day commentary team for a number of years and is well thought of by current media manager Liam Hoden, and the club can have no greater voice of experience and authority.

There, will, or course, be fans who have not always agreed with what either of us have said or written at times over the last six decades, but that is par for the course when it comes to sports journalism and Peter is always someone that I have respected.

Rotherham United named their press room at the New York Stadium a few years ago in honour of my former Star colleague, Les Payne, who reported on the Millers for many years.

I think a lot of people, including myself, would find it a fitting reward for Peter’s efforts over the years were Rovers to make a similar gesture.

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*Still on the subject of Rovers, I don’t think anyone who takes an interest in the club expected them to be languishing in the bottom three of League Two at the start of February. I certainly didn’t.

Their plight would have been even worse but for their late equaliser at second-bottom Sutton at the weekend - a result could go a long way towards keeping them up if results don’t improve as it prevented the home side getting to within four points of Rovers.

Although they will need to play much better and score more goals than they have done in too many games this season, my gut feeling is that they will not finish in the relegation zone.

Which is just as well given that there would be no guarantee of a speedy return were they to be relegated from the Football League for a second time as a number of former Football League clubs have found out to their cost in recent years.

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*What a tremendous advert for the Six Nations Wales and Scotland provided on Saturday which will have been enjoyed by many Doncaster Knights supporters under the main stand at Castle Park following the club’s Championship win over Cambridge earlier in the afternoon.

It didn’t look like being that way at half time, however, as Wales came in losing 27-0 at the break following a dreadful first half showing and the points looked destined to be heading north of the border.

I don’t know what was said in the dressing room but it was a completely different Wales side in the second half as they scored 26 points without reply in a game which will be talked about for years in the Welsh valleys where the sport is almost a religion.

It was fitting that Wales didn’t finish empty-handed after making such a comeback which thrilled both those in the stadium and the millions watching on television, and picked up two bonus points – one for scoring four tries and another for finishing within seven points of the winners.

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Having covered Championship side Doncaster Knights for many years, I know how much interest bonus points generated among the Castle Park faithful and added to the occasion.

I have always thought that rugby league clubs, who did briefly experiment with bonus points a few years ago, should adopt a similar scheme to the RFU. There is certainly an argument to be made for teams being awarded a bonus point for winning each half.

*As I wrote in this column at this time last year, the Australian Open is my second favourite of the four tennis grand slams, and it didn’t disappoint again this year.

Having been a member of the Doncaster club for over 25 years before injury problems caused me to call it a day a decade or so ago, I always enjoying watching the event which I feel does some things better than Wimbledon.

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Although I continue to be impressed by the skills and athleticism of the players, particularly the men, I still find the habit of bouncing the ball before serving annoying.

One of the semi-finalists regularly bounced the ball 16 times before serving. I, for one, would like to see the ball bounce limited to four, or six. It would speed up play.