Diouf’s message of hope

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Thursday: No sooner had I returned to the office after attending Doncaster Rovers’ weekly press conference, during which manager Dean Saunders said that he hoped to be completing the signing of former Premier League star El Hadji-Diouf later that day, than I was summoned to another press conference at the Keepmoat Stadium, where he actually did.

There were quite a few media people there, but realising that I had a tight deadline to meet, Rovers’ media manager Steve Uttley kindly made sure that I got first bite of the cherry.

For a variety of reasons, it was the first time that I had spoken to Diouf since he’s been at the club.

But he came across as being sincere in his desire to help keep Rovers in the Championship and he seemed confident of doing so,

Diouf didn’t arrive at the club with the best of reputations, and continues to be booed by opposition supporters every time he gets on the ball.

But I’ve not heard anyone connected with the club say anything but good about him.

FRIDAY: The wintry weather played havoc with my plans for my scheduled afternoon off with pitch inspections being arranged in the afternoon for both the Rovers-Reading game and Doncaster Knights’ Championship game at London Welsh.

I was fairly confident that Rovers game would go ahead given the fact that they had had a double layer of plastic sheeting, one layer borrowed from Doncaster Racecourse, covering the pitch for most of the week.

Rovers boss Dean Saunders had also told me the day before that the pitch was playable.

I was less hopeful of Knights’ game being on and wrote a back page story for Saturday’s paper so that I was ready to go as soon as the 4pm pitch inspection had been carried out. So I was more than a little surprised when I learned the the pitch had been given the all-clear by an RFU referee. I also had to write another story.

SATURDAY: I received a text saying that the game against Reading had been called off. Rreferee Tony Bates had ruled several areas of the South Stand goalmouth were dangerous.

Rovers had done all they could have done to have got the game on and still felt the hot air blowers would have done the trick, but Mr Bates felt there would still be problems come kick-off time.

The decision upset the Reading team and both sets of fans.

But having just started with a cold and chest infection I was rather glad in a way that I did not have to spend two to three hours out in the cold at the Keepmoat.Although Rovers missed out on what was expected to be an above average gate, it wasn’t all bad news with fellow strugglers Coventry City, Millwall and Bristol City all losing.

I watched the first half of the Scotland-England Six Nations clash from Murrayfield but turned over at half-time following a first half virtually devoid of entertainment.

International ruby union has come a long way as a spectator sport over the last 20 years, but this game was a throwback to the days when I used to question the sanity of people who paid good money to watch what were often little more than a kicking and set-piece contest - especially if England were playing.

But thought caretaker England coach Stuart Lancaster was brave in his team selection and innovative in other areas and deserves to be given time to prove himself good enough to keep the job.

It seemed strange to see former Rovers’ star Billy Sharp in a red and white striped Southampton shirt in the second half of the Saints goalless draw at Birmingham City.

Sharp came off the bench midway through the second half of the game but couldn’t conjure up a winner for his new side in a game spoilt by the weather.

I’m sure that Saints’ boss Nigel Adkins would have taken a point before the kick-off given the Blues’ impressive home record this season.

SUNDAY: It was hard not to sympathise with Doncaster Knights’ boss Brett Davey when he told me of the club’s wasted journey down to London Welsh’s Old Deer Park ground - the referee siding with the visitors that the pitch was dangerous in parts.

Davey is critical of the situation whereby the away club are forced to travel on the decision of someone other than the match official in such circumstances. He makes a valid point.

Obviously every effort should be made to get games played but whenever there is more than a 50-50 chance of it being called off due to the weather, as must have been the case on Friday afternoon given the forecast for more overnight frost, commonsense should prevail,

MONDAY: England’s cricketers slumped to another defeat as Pakistan wrapped up their three-match Test series in Dubai, 3-0.

There may not have been many people at the games but the result will still resonate around the cricketing world. England had to work to become the world’s No 1 cricketing nation. They may have to work even harder to stay there.