Doncaster RLFC: Stalwart Stewart Piper empathises with current squad

Stewart Piper
Stewart Piper

Stewart Piper is celebrating 50 years involvement with the town's professional rugby league club.

Chairman of the club's ex-players' association, Stewart made his debut for the now defunct under-17s side in 1965.

He was later signed by the Dons and made his debut on Boxing Day, helping the club record a win over Widnes.

But Stewart, who went on to make nearly 250 appearances for the club, didn’t pick up too many winning pay packets over the years.

“In those days Doncaster was regarded as being a rugby league outpost,” he recalled this week.

“The club brought players in from all over Yorkshire and some of the players from Hull, which had, and still has, a huge rugby league tradition, used to look down at the handful of Doncaster-based players in the squad.

“We also used to cop all the flak for defeats because we lived local and the supporters saw us about town.”

Despite the best efforts of Stewart and his various team-mates, the Dons were rarely far from the bottom of the table at the end of most seasons.

But when it came to supporting his benefit season in 1982 the club’s fans remembered his loyalty and commitment and helped him raise a then club-record £5,000 plus.

Stewart continued his involvement after retiring and has sponsored the club for over 30 years.

He was also asked to be the honorary club president when Carl Hall bought the club five or six years ago.

Like everyone connected with the club, Stewart is concerned that relegation to League One is looking more of a certainty with every defeat.

But he said: “I’ve still not given up on the team and I still think they’ve a chance of staying in this division.

“They may have lost every game this year, which has come as a big surprise after we finished fourth last year, but we’ve come close on a few occasions.

“As I well remember from my playing days, things never seem to go your way when you are on a losing run.

“But you’ve got to keep your spirits up and that’s what the players have been doing and they run London a lot closer than the score would suggest.”

Stewart never finished on the winning side against Featherstone Rovers but he is not writing off the team’s chances of victory there tomorrow evening.

The Dons will be up against former boss Paul Cooke, who signed for Rovers as a player earlier this month.