The Verdict: Why a little bit of love goes a long way at Doncaster Rovers

Paul Dickov has a hug for goalscorer Federico Macheda.
Paul Dickov has a hug for goalscorer Federico Macheda.

Doncaster Rovers are the highest ranked side in South Yorkshire. Their ten-game barometer reads ‘so far, so good’.

Little wonder then, there’s an early season feel of fun, enjoyment and optimism at the Keepmoat Stadium.

And it’s that feeling of positivity itself - radiated by boss Paul Dickov - which has very much played a part in helping Rovers get a headstart on their local rivals.

While tensions continue to rise at both Sheffield clubs, Doncaster are going about their business on the field in typically understated, under the radar fashion. It suits Rovers just fine.

The recent trip to Hillsborough was an eye opener.

Walking through the grand entrance, Wednesday’s illustrious past, and the sheer size of the club, was documented by a timeline of classic photographs which stretched from the front door to the press room.

Doncaster’s past is very different. But what this club lacks in size, stature and honours, it more than makes up for in other ways.

Rovers in recent years has become a place for players to get their career back on track.

There’s something about this club - whether it’s that homely family feel, or its proximity with the local community - that seems to get the best out of its players.

There’s something just a little bit different about this club.

Footballers are a special breed. They like to be loved. And at Doncaster it genuinely feels like players get the TLC, and more, that makes them tick.

It’s probably one of the main reasons why Doncaster continue to arguably punch above their weight.

Billy Sharp, Rob Jones, David Cotterill - all recent examples of players who perhaps have felt unloved elsewhere, who have thrived at Doncaster.

There’s evidence for all this love too.

It’s rare for the communal area at Cantley Park not to be buzzing with noise, banter and friendship.

It’s obvious on twitter - judging by the openness with which they goad each other - that the players have a very close bond.

It’s people behind the scenes, like fitness coach Ben Rome and groundsman Andy Thompson, who play a massive role in making the squad feel even more loved.

And Dickov, the man entrusted with making the club tick, appears to be the perfect match too.

By displaying a real honesty and sense of humour in his press conferences, the Scot immediately clicked with supporters.

He might not have much love for officials, but Doncaster’s boss come across a genuinely likeable guy - as long as you’re pulling your weight.

And in the process he’s made some very early inroads into giving the club its identity back, after it disappeared along with Championship status last year.

After the fall-out of the experiment, the inquest into Dean Saunders’ reign and a somewhat attritional, albeit successful, League One campaign, Dickov’s fusion of work ethic and attractive football has put a smile firmly on supporters’ faces.

And this season should be about enjoyment for Rovers fans, seeing their side back among the Championship big boys.

Thus far, with some cracking contests already in the bag, it has not disappointed on that front.

There’s lots to love about Doncaster Rovers at present. A little bit of love can go a long way.