Doncaster RLFC: A case of what might have been as the game heads to Wembley
Those Doncaster RLFC supporters travelling down to Wembley Stadium on Saturday could be forgiven for thinking ‘what if?’
The Dons looked to have booked for their place in the last four of the inaugural 1895 Cup competition – the final of which will be played after the St Helens-Warrington Challenge Cup final – when leading Sheffield Eagles 28-12 midway through the second half of their quarter-final.
Eagles snatched a dramatic last-minute try to claim victory and then went on to beat Batley Bulldogs, who the Dons had beaten at home in their Challenge Cup fifth round tie back in April.
“It would certainly have been great to see the Dons playing at Wembley and they could have been there because they should have beaten Eagles that night,” said Stewart Piper, the club’s honorary president.
The former long-serving winger welcomes the 1895 Cup final being played on the same day as the Challenge Cup final.
“It gives teams from outside the Super League a chance of playing at Wembley and hopefully it will become established going forward though I’m not sure the timing is right,” he said.
It will be the third year that the club have laid on a coach to take Dons supporters to the final.
“The coach doesn’t look as though it will be as full as last year when we had some Sheffield Eagles’ supporters on board, and it probably doesn’t help that no Yorkshire team is involved,” he said.
“Given our links with Hull FC it would have been better for us had they beaten Warrington in the semi-final.”
Despite numbers being lower than hoped, Stewart says that both he and Ray Green, who has held down a number of top jobs at the club over the years, will try to ensure those travelling down to the capital have an enjoyable day.
“Ray and I are hosting the trip on behalf of the club and we’ll be getting on the microphone on the way down and telling a few amusing anecdotes and generally trying to entertain people,” he said.
Although the Challenge Cup possibly doesn’t boast the prestige of years gone by, Stewart says it’s still a special occasion.
“The atmosphere is still the same going down Wembley way and I really enjoyed last year’s final which saw Catalans Dragons become the first side to win the Challenge Cup,” he said.
Club CEO Carl Hall, the RFL’s vice-president this year, will be involved in some of the ceremonial events on the day.