Dave Penney’s back on the ball

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FORMER Doncaster Rovers’ boss Dave Penney is helping to give local youngsters the sort of quality coaching that he never had at their age.

“I grew up in Castleford, which was a massive rugby league area, and there wasn’t much football coaching and I didn’t start playing competitively until was 13,” he said prior to the first session of his Academy at the Keepmoat Stadium complex on Wednesday evening.

“I suppose that I didn’t do too badly and got better the longer I played, but had I received some coaching at an early age I probably would have been a better technical player,” said Dave, a UEFA pro-licence coach.

The Academy, which caters for 5-8 year-olds (6-7pm) and 9-12 year-olds (7-8pm) is open to anyone wanting to improve their football skills

“The main thing is that everyone enjoys the sessions, but if I feel anyone is good enough I will point them in the right direction at Doncaster Rovers’ Centre of Excellence,” said Dave.

LONG-serving Doncaster Rovers’ kit manager Dave Richards, who retired at the end of the season, held his ‘leaving do’ on the same night. I’ve known Dave for many years and used to sit near him during the years when I travelled to games on the team bus and his ‘tales’ used to help pass the boredom on many a long trip.

I will always remember the last time Rovers played at Torquay. Dave and media manager Steve Uttley charged their drinks bill at the team’s hotel on the eve of the match to my room as a joke. Fortunately, I discovered what they were up to before the bill got too high, but I never got my £18 back.

DONS’ star Paul Cooke told me when we met up on a job on Friday that he plans to run seven marathons in seven days in aid of a Hull-based Dove House Hospice next month when the Keeepmoat Stadium club have no game for three weeks.

Standing 6ft 5in tall and built more like a second-rower than a stand-off, the former Super League star is hoping to raise around £5,000 for the hospice who cared for his 58 year-old mother in her final days before her death last June.

Although 31 year-old Paul split the rugby-mad city when leaving Hull FC, for their arch-rivals Hull Kingston Rovers, he says that he has had pledges of support from fans of both Super League clubs. Amazingly for someone who has set himself such a challenge, Paul has never run a marathon before or even done much training for one. “It’s not so much about the times but about completing the run each day,” he said. “I’ll have someone on a bike at the side of me each day and I’ve got some physio’s lined up after every run and players I’ve played with in the past, as well as some of the coaching staff at Doncaster, have promised to join me at various times during the seven days.”

THE Dons did the family of fallen Doncaster soldier Liam Maughan, killed in action in 2009 whilst serving in Afghanistan, proud at Sunday’s clash against Rochdale Hornets at the Keepmoat.

Over a half-a-dozen soldiers from The Rifles regiment, in which 18 year-old Liam served, provided a guard of honour as the two teams walked out to the stirring strains of ‘Jerusalem’ prior to everyone observing a minute’s silence. Liam’s family were in attendance.