Doncaster Rovers pick best Cherries

Back in charge: Eddie Howe has taken Bournemouth on a fine run since returning to the club
Back in charge: Eddie Howe has taken Bournemouth on a fine run since returning to the club

DONCASTER Rovers’ chairman John Ryan turned a 5-0 drubbing against Bournemouth at Dean Court in the 2004-05 season from a negative into a positive several years later.

Early in the 2006-07 season when Ryan was looking for a replacement for manager Dave Penney, who he felt had taken the club as far as he could, he remembered that day and how the Cherries had given Rovers a footballing lesson.

Despite speculation linking the club with high-profile names, Ryan’s target was always the relatively unknown (especially in the north of England) Sean O’Driscoll.

The Wolverhampton-born O’Driscoll, who had worked wonders on a shoestring budget at the South coast club, was persuaded to throw in his lot with the ambitious South Yorkshire club. His departure, alongside No 2 Richard O’Kelly, was a setback for the Cherries.

They had already seen full-back James O’Connor move to Belle Vue for a Rovers club record fee for a defender of £130,000.

He was not to prove the only Bourmemouth star to follow O’Driscoll to Rovers that season with record scorer James Hayter moving North for a club-record £200,000 fee.

O’Driscoll’s first signing was former Cherries midfielder Brian Stock, whose move to Preston hadn’t worked out as he had hoped. O’Connor, Stock and Hayter, who scored the only goal of the game in the League One Promotion Play-Off final against Leeds United at Wembley, all played a key role in not only helping Rovers win promotion to the second tier of English football for the first time in 50 years but winning richly-deserved plaudits for the quality of their football for the majority of their four years in the Championship.

After several years when their survival was in doubt, the Seasiders are now on the crest of the wave after winning five and drawing one of their last six games since Eddie Howe, who played under O’Driscoll, returned to the club. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see them up there next May.