BACK TO THE FUTURE: How Doncaster Rovers’ main quality in 2013 will be vital in the new year

James Coppinger (second left) celebrates his winner at Griffin Park.
James Coppinger (second left) celebrates his winner at Griffin Park.

One factor defined Rovers on the pitch during 2013: togetherness.

The season-defining April day at Brentford encapsulated the way togetherness powered Rovers to promotion.

Not the incredible finish but the 95 minutes that preceded it when Rovers threw themselves in front of everything the Bees had and frustrated their hosts until they ran out of ideas.

Togetherness defined the League One title winning side. A small group of players brought together by Dean Saunders on a budget with the aim of battling their way towards promotion.

And battle they did, often until the bitter end.

Forged in the image of Braveheart leader Rob Jones, boy did it do the job.

Rovers were never beaten until they were beaten, providing thrilling moments well before they reached Griffin Park and helping them sit in the box seat for promotion on that final day.

The celebrations which followed showed how close the group had become. It was not merely the circumstances under which they crossed the line, nor the achievement itself that brought day after day of partying, the closeness did that.

It could hardly have been a bigger contrast to the manner in which Rovers finished the previous season when ‘The Experiment’ ravaged squad morale to an all-time low.

The togetherness of the squad was something Paul Dickov identified immediately on his appointment in May.

He spoke of not wanting to break up the spirit of the squad while he plotted Championship stability and he largely managed to do that, on his own terms.

When Rovers took to the field in August, their intensive pressing game was powered by the battling spirit, given a second tier makeover.

But it could not be maintained and the impressive start waned, putting Rovers into a battle against the drop in the second half of the season.

The bond between this group no longer seems as strong as it did in the first half of the year.

The togetherness has not necessarily disappeared entirely along with the high energy approach, but it could do with making a bigger show of itself.

There are tough times ahead for this Rovers squad. There are plenty of battles looming.

But we have seen plenty of evidence as to how togetherness can get you through those.