Manny Road doesn’t usually lavish affection on opposing teams, but for Doncaster Rovers an exception can be made. It’s the results you see. There haven’t been many competitive fixtures between the two clubs, just nine in the history of the World, but in the most recent games, Bolton have scored lots of goals and Donny nonny, sorry none.
In January 2007, the Whites, then in the Premier League, journeyed to South Yorkshire for an FA Cup tie, with Rovers keen to show off their shiny new stadium. Radio Five Live pitched up sensing an upset. It didn’t happen. With just over half an hour gone, Bolton were three goals to the good. The commentary switched to another game.
The final result was 4-0, with two superbly taken goals by the a player referred to by Tony Gubba as “Teymourian the Iranian” or Andranik to everyone else. When he repeated the feat in a league game at Wigan a few weeks later, there was excitement that Sam Allardyce had unearthed a gem from the least likely of places.
Sadly, it didn’t work out. On taking over as manager, Gary Megson ignored the player and he joined Fulham, suffering a serious injury just after, which kept him out of the game for an extended period. Later, this led to problems securing a work permit and Andranik returned to Iran. One wonders what would have happened had circumstances been different.
Megson himself, took Bolton to the Keepmoat Stadium for a pre-season friendly, with Johan Elmander and co having fun in a 5-0 victory. Even Dougie Freedman managed a 3-0 win over the side now led by irritating dwarf Paul Dickov, earlier this season at the Reebok. At that time, Doncaster, in wretched form, looked like relegation fodder, but they’ve rallied since then, and will most likely be playing Championship football next season.
There’s no point trying to figure out what side Freedman will pick this evening. Even he doesn’t always know, but Dougie’s a big fan of rotation, so he’ll be frantically counting bodies, to see if he can replace the entire side which triumphed at Huddersfield on Saturday, with a happy 92nd minute ending provided by Joe Mason. Take a cushion for that bench, Joe.
That game was dull, but the 2,300 travelling fans, many who had arrived via the Real Ale Trail, didn’t care. In a season which has been a non-event, it’s encouraging to see that the fun has returned, amongst Bolton’s away following.
Perhaps Doncaster will have the greater motivation. One more win will surely see them safe, although they suffered a disappointment in going down to Birmingham at home on Saturday. The Whites are cruising now, and a mid-table finish beckons. Whether the players care enough about to that to give the following faithful something to cheer about remains to be seen. We may like Doncaster a little less by 10 pm.
– Richard McCormick