DONCASTER ROVERS: Writing was on the wall from first day of season

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THE club’s final game of the 2011-12 season against Ipswich Town didn’t go to script as we suffered a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Tractor Boys.

Poor marking from a set piece led to their first goal - for some reason we just haven’t come to grips with set plays for the past couple of seasons.

To some Rovers fans their second goal was controversial. Did Stevenson’s long-range shot cross the line after coming back off the underside of the crossbar? I think the ‘liner’ got it right, although he was not in the best position to give the goal.

But Rovers struck back when Fabien Robert slotted home from a great left wing cross.

The visitors then struck home a penalty, although looking at the television footage the initial contact was outside the box.

At least we can say we scored the last goal of the Championship season - Habib Beye tucking the ball away from a James Coppinger free-kick in injury-time.

The players got a great reception at the final whistle from the fans who stayed behind, but why did we have to have so many bouncers and police on duty at the game? Rovers’ fans have always heeded warnings about going on the pitch.

There was a great turnout for the club’s end of season awards dinner at The Dome on Saturday night.

George Friend won the Player of the Season award, James Husband the Young Player award and Brian Stock’s winner at Peterborough was voted Goal of the Season. The Youth team won the Youth Player of the Season award.

Well done to Hilary from the commercial department, who won a holiday to Marbella for her knowledge of the European Championships in the true or false competition.

My night ended in town at the Chey bar, where players and fans finished of a good night.

My son greeted me with: ‘what time of day do you call this?’after I rolled in at 3.40 am.

The highlight of the week was Tuesday night, with the youth team winning the Football Alliance Under 18s Cup final at Exeter City.

I travelled down to St James’ Park along with 20 other fans and 30 or so parents and a sprinkling of “South West Exiles.”

The lads did the club proud.

Exeter had the better of the opening 30 minutes, playing some good football, but we outmuscled them - a term you do not hear too much about when talking about a Rovers’ side - and we ran out worthy 4-0 winners with goals from Jordan Ball 2, Josh Meade, and captain marvel Brett Lucas.

It was definitely our night - one of the players’ family even won the £200 half time raffle.

There was a good crowd of 1,516 - it looked loads more than that though - and the kick-off had to be delayed for congestion at the turnstiles.

It was good to see Mickey Walker, Stuart Highfield, Suzanne Uttley and George Friend and his dad backing the team. Congratulations to the lads and to management duo Paul Stancliffe and Paul Wilson. Their success bodes well for the future.

I think our party made the right decision to stay overnight in Torquay, as the motorway was shut on the players’ journey home and they didn’t arrive back in Doncaster until 5am; we were in the pub by 10.30pm!

It was also a nice gesture from Paul Wilson to phone us next morning, and thank us for our support.

After all the rain we had travelled through to get to the game, we were in short sleeves, and the pitch had to be watered . . . drought, what drought?

I have been asked if I could arrange my fellow travellers’ summer holidays as all the stay-over trips we have arranged this season have been blessed by brilliant weather.

The inquests into where it went wrong this season at first team level will now begin.

The injuries to Sharpy and Hayts in the first game did not help matters as we had no recognised stiker for a couple of months. Further injuries to the squad led to Sean O’Driscoll and Richard O’Kelly losing their jobs.

The failure to score goals and to defend - especially from set plays - late goals, referees who certainly showed us no favours, the “French/Senegal connection” and Billy going to the Saints all contributed to our relegation,

We all have our own opinion, but the last month of the season when the ‘old guard’ were back in, has injected a bit of new belief into the fans.

With finances permitting, and hopefully strong season ticket sales, let’s hope we can bounce back soon.

Stick with the team - Rovers is for always , not just the good times.

A big ‘thanks; to John Ryan for sticking in there. If you have your views on what went wrong get in touch with the sports bag at The Star (email starsport@jpress.co.uk).

Highlights? The wins over Southampton, Leicester, Ipswich away, Picqionne’s wonder goal at Forest and Billy’s goal against Boro after the traumatic week he had. Incidentally, good luck to him in the Premiership.

We are going on a League One tour next season, whilst Wembley beckons in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and the Play-offs (if we don’t finish in the top two).

There will be no Saturdays off for international games.

Have a great summer, and, if you haven’t already done so, please renew your season tickets. Roll on August . . . Rovers ‘till I drop.