For many years Doncaster Toll Bar ARLFC’s open-age side has failed to match the success of its junior sides – but all that is starting to change.
And as the club rides a wave of success, they have ambitions of finally staking a claim for the crown of top amateur side in town.
After sweeping to the Pennine League Division One crown they will have a chance to do just that with all three Doncaster amateur sides set to compete in the same division next term.
“We’ve never been the highest-placed club in Doncaster but we’ll have the chance to put the record straight next season in Championship One,” coach Ian Tattersall told me.
“I’m not saying that we’ll the win division like last year’s Division One champions Illingworth have done, but I can’t see why we can’t be competitive at the top end.”
Toll Bar lost just one game all season, the opening match at Brotherton, and never looked back.
And Tattersall puts the success down to the spirit forged among the squad.
He said: “There is a great team spirit at the club and the players all respect their team-mates, none more so than former Dons captain Craig Lawton, who has played every game.
“Although it’s been a real team effort, there are always outstanding players and for me they’ve been Craig and fellow forwards Kieran Cross and Karl Mills.”
The open-age side has come a long way since Tattersall arrived at the club at the start of last season, fresh from an assistant coach role with the Dons and a spell with the Sheffield Eagles.
After stabilising the club in Division One, he was keen to build a solid and successful future.
He said: “We had a lot of injury problems in that first season so to finish fifth was creditable.
“It wasn’t an easy season but we laid the foundations for what we’ve achieved this season.
“When I came back I told the committee I wanted to put a proper structure in place and that we needed to show a bit more professionalism.
“I also made a point of contacting good players who had come up through the ranks, many of whom I had coached, who had been lost to the club for a variety of reasons.
“We got a lot of them back and we’ve kept them because they are happy in the environment we’ve created.
“They are also learning new things in training and in matches.”
Success of the magnitude achieved this term did not appear likely following a difficult pre-season, particularly after opening the campaign with defeat.
Tattersall said: “Without wishing to make excuses, we’d had a bad build-up.
“Promising young centre Jordan King, who had been outstanding for us the previous season when we struggled with a lot of injuries, broke his ankle in training.”
Teenager King has the ability to play at a higher level according to Tattersall but he expects him to remain with Toll Bar for the immediate future at least.
The club are also through to the Andrew Bennett Memorial Trophy final – a competition which caters for Division One clubs and below – and will play West Leeds at the start of next month.