Andrew’s painful experience at Queens makes the news

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DONCASTER-based line judge Andrew McDougall has been a pretty anonymous figure at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships over the years.

The vast majority of the huge crowds who flock to SW 19 every summer come, of course, to watch the world’s best players in the most prestigious tournament in the sport.

But all that is likely to change next week as a result of the injury he suffered whilst officiating in the final of the men’s singles as Queens on Sunday.

Andrew made the back pages of some national newspapers, as well as the national news, after picking up a cut shin following an angry outburst by Argentinean David Nalbandian, who kicked out at the plywood box which housed his line-judges chair.

Andrew, who has regularly officiated on the Wimbledon show courts, will now be instantly recognised by many people not only on court but walking around the vast Wimbledon complex.

I dare say that he will prove a more familiar face than some of the East European women players who will be contesting the honours over the next fortnight.

Such was the uniqueness of the incident that it is bound to be shown on televised sporting quizzes as part of a ‘what what happened next?’ round.

Hopefully Andrew’s time at Wimbledon will be less painful than his experience at Queens - though some fans still enjoy watching the odd bad boy on court.

Having been at Wimbledon on several occasions when John McEnroe ‘lost it’ I can vouch for the fact that many people - myself included - enjoyed the excitement his bad behaviour generated.

I for one am hoping that England go on to reach the final of the Euro 2012 Championships.

Not that I will be watching if they do as, after covering over 50 games a season, and doing hundreds of stories, I am always ready for as much of a break from the game as possible and rarely watch any football after Doncaster Rovers’ last game of the season and the start of their pre-season campaign.

I also like to play a bit of sport during the couple of months when Rovers aren’t in action - including golf and tennis.

I’ve played golf on all three evenings when England games have been shown on television and the two courses I played on were almost deserted and we virtually had them to ourselves. Which is certainly not the norm for this time of the year.

Well done to Dons’ star Paul Cooke on completing seven marathons in seven days in aid of a Hull-based hospice which looked after his mother in her final days last year.

Cooke didn’t have a history of road running, nor had he done any serious training for the daunting challenge.

Praise, too, for Dons boss Tony Miller for deciding to run alongside Cooke to give him support in his penultimate run on Monday.

It was a typical gesture by one of the most genuine people in the game.

No doubt he is still feeling the effects of his first attempt at the distance.

Rovers chairman John Ryan and former No 2 Dick Watson mounted a vigorous defence of the so- called ‘Willie Mckay experiment’ at this week’s public meeting at the Keepmoat Stadium.

“The experiment was a failure because we got relegated,” said Ryan. “But it was done for the best of motives and it cost Dick and I probably a couple of million each.

“The bottom line was that we’d gone seven league matches without a win and had picked up just one point and it looked as though we were going to go down.

“Sean (O’Driscoll) was a great manager for this club but he’d had enough - we all had.

“Sean did great but his time was up - as was probably my time.

“We made a change and took a gamble and said we either go down meekly and just accept relegation - which we would have been a lot better off doing financially -- or we give it a go, bringing in Diouf and the rest of them and it could have worked.”

Said Watson, who it is thought helped persuade Ryan that it was time for a change: “For those of you who were at the game at Reading - who were in poor shape at the time - we were absolutely hopeless.

“We conceded two soft goals and we created nothing and on the train on the way back home I was depressed - football depressed - and I thought ‘we’ve got to try something.’

“When Willie (Mckay) came along and suggested that he could bring good players in and help us get up the league table, that’s what we tried to do.

“I think in one way it was successful.

“After the Reading game I thought we could be a complete embarrassment and finish up with 10 points at the end of the season.

“But we gave it a go. Willie Mckay worked hard, Dean Saunders worked his butt off, and at one time it looked as if it could work when we had those wins against Leicester and Southampton because I thought we were on a bit of a roll then.

“But it all came to an end when we played badly against Millwall and Derby and lost them both.”

I’ve been impressed by the way new Doncaster Rovers’ chief executive Gavin Morgan has settled in at the club since replacing the long-serving Dave Morris just under four months ago.

I’ve heard good things about him from several people connected with other clubs linked to the Keepmoat Stadium complex who have had dealings with him.

The former rugby union star has done well for himself in the town since hanging his boots up, and he has big plans for the stadium which he outlined to me this week.

He is confident of turning the loss-making facility around and hopes to be able to generate a small profit within the next two years by encouraging much more use of the venue.

Despite having his own ideas, he is keen to both encourage input from fans and act on the feedback where possible.

He has wasted no time in trying to improve the match-day experience for those fans who like to have a pie and a pint at the stadium and arranged for the caterers to provide a free sample of the type of food which will be on sale at the ground next season.

I’m not normally a lover of pies but I sampled a couple and I have to say that I was impressed - as was virtually everybody I spoke to at the event. I know money is tight for a lot of people but on the evidence of Monday’s free samples fans will at least get value for money.