As a new manager prepares to settle into the Doncaster Rovers’ managerial hotseat, we’ve taken a light-hearted look back to some of the names who’ve taken on the challenge down the decade.
Some have proved winners, some have proved outright losers - and we’re chronicling some of the best and worst.
But have we got it right?
Let us know your thoughts!
SIMPLY THE BEST
1. PETER DOHERTY
One of the top players of his time, Doherty won a league title with Manchester City, an FA Cup final with Derby County and gained 16 caps for Ireland. He came to Doncaster in 1949, where he assumed the role of player-manager.
His coaching techniques were revolutionary at the time, emphasising ball practice and instead of endless laps of the pitch, Doherty suggested volley-ball, “to promote jumping, timing and judgement”; basketball, “to encourage split-second decision-making and finding space”; and walking football, “to build up calf muscles”. He led Rovers to their highest ever league finish, 11th in Division Two in 1950-51.
2. SEAN O’DRISCOLL
Ironically nicknamed “Noisy,” the quietly spoken manager ruffled the feathers of a few fans when he first arrived with cries of “who?” but he quickly won over supporters as the standard of football improved. He oversaw Rovers’ 3–2 success over Bristol Rovers in the Football League Trophy final in 2007 and teered Doncaster to promotion into the Championship after a 1–0 victory over Leeds United in the League One play-off final at Wembley Stadium. The following season saw his side initially struggle to adapt to the demands of the Championship, but they ended up 14th, comfortably clear of relegation.
3. DAVE PENNEY
Penney guided Doncaster back into the Football League with victory over Dagenham and Redbridge in the Conference play-off final in 2003. Their stay in Division Three wasn’t long though as he managed Doncaster to the Division Three title. During a further two seasons of cementing Doncaster’s place in Coca-Cola League One Penney famously masterminded victories over Premier League sides Manchester City and Aston Villa, and nearly overcame Arsenal in the League Cup quarter-finals before finally being beaten in a penalty shootout.
4. BILLY BREMNER
Bremner was appointed manager of struggling Fourth Division Rovers in November 1978 and a rebuilding programme eventually paid dividends when the club were promoted in 1980-81 after finishing third in Division Four. They were relegated again in 1982-83 but bounced straight back the following season, finishing as Division Four runners-up behind York City. The lure of Leeds United proved too much in 1985 after seven years at Doncaster but in July 1989 he returned for a second spell, although this time round he wasn’t as successful and he resigned in 1991.
5. IAN SNODIN
Snodin started his career as a trainee at Doncaster Rovers along with his brother Glynn under Billy Bremner. He soon caught the interest of the Leeds United manager Eddie Gray and was transferred to the club in the summer of 1985 for £200,000. He later enjoyed a successful spell at Everton, despite persistent injury problems, and was appointed manager of Rovers in 1998 with the club recently relegated from the football league. Snodin oversaw a major rebuilding programme which set in motion the wheels for the club’s later success, leading Rovers to the Nationwide Conference Trophy at the end of his first season - the club’s first silverware in decades.
SIMPLY THE WORST
1. MARK WEAVER
The much despised Mark Weaver was the figurehead put into the hotseat during the disastrous 1997-98 season which saw Rovers plummet out of the Football League. A man whose previous football experience extended little beyond selling lottery tickets for Stockport County regularly came under fire from fans, along with his boss, controversial club “benefactor” Ken Richardson. It took Rovers until the 21st attempt to win during that calamitous season and pitch invasions and protests were all part and parcel of the Weaver-Richardson era until the latter’s jailing over a bungled arson plot at Belle Vue brought the regime firmly to an end.
2. DANNY BERGARA
Another short-lived appointment during the same 1997-98 relegation season was the colourful and outspoken Uruguayan Danny Bergara. After reasonably successful spells at Rochdale and Stockport, Bergara also managed the Brunei National team and the England Under-18 and Under-20 sides, with a World Youth Cup win also to his name. A brief spell at Doncaster Rovers followed, during which time the club were featured in the 1998 Channel 5 ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary “They Think It’s All Rovers” where his sweary dressing room antics were chronicled in the full glare of the TV cameras.
3. STEVE WIGNALL
Born in Liverpool, Wignall played professionally for Rovers, Colchester United, Brentford and Aldershot, making a total of 639 appearances in the Football League. After his retirement from playing he joined the coaching staff at Aldershot. After Aldershot went out of business in 1992, a new club, Aldershot Town was formed, and Wignall became their first ever manager, winning back to back promotions before former club Colchester United signed him in January 1995. During his time at Colchester he led the club to promotion and to the final of the Associate Members Cup the year before. However, he failed to repeat his success at Rovers and was never a crowd favourite.
4. DAVE CUSACK
He moved to Doncaster Rovers as player-manager in 1985, replacing Billy Bremner. The 1985–86 season would see Doncaster emerge as promotion contenders before eventually finishing 11th - one of Doncaster’s highest placings in the league since relegation from the Second Division in 1958. But Doncaster were facing relegation by 1988 and Cusack left the club during the season. He took over at Rotherham United with the Millers in mid-table, but left in April and a slide down the league led to the Millers also being relegated along with Rovers.
5. DAVE COWLING
Yet another boss from the Ken Richardson era, Dave Cowling is possibly the shortest-lived Doncaster Rovers manager in history - lasting just over a week in the job. Brought in during the 1997-98 season, Cowling was given the unenviable task of steering Rovers off off the foot of the Football League. However, it quickly became apparent that him having any say of who he picked wasn’t an option, Richardson himself choosing the players and having the say over tactics. He resigned only a few days after taking up the hotseat.
* Do you agree with our choices have we missed anyone out? Let us know your thoughts!