A fitting send-off for former Dons head coach

editorial image

IT was standing room only at Pontefract crematorium yesterday for the funeral of former Doncaster Rugby League Club’s head coach John Sheridan.

John, who as current head coach Tony Miller told me, ‘didn’t have an enemy in the world’ died recently aged 78. He had previously suffered a stroke.

I always got on well with Castleford-based John despite the fact that he often called me the ‘the poison pen’ - a name prop Kevin Parkhouse jokingly gave me after I wrote a particularly critical report back in the mid-80s.

He was someone I respected as a coach and as a person and I hope his wife and family will have taken some consolation, at what must be a particularly sad time for them, at the turn out.

Among the mourners were John Green, John Evans, Kevin Jones, Keith Jones and Andy Timpson, who John all brought to the club in his first spell in charge in 1984.

As well as Miller, Dons chief executive Carl Hall and back room staff Pete Bell and Don Brookes, also attended. In addition to a number of his former Castleford team-mates, such as former Great Britain stars Dennis Hartley and Garry Schofield, who played a few games for the Dons during their time at Belle Vue, paid their respects.

John Kear, who steered Sheffield Eagles to a shock Challenge Cup win over Wigan at Wembley, and now coach at Batley, was also there.

The last thing I expected when I drove down to Meadow Lane on Sunday - my third visit in recent weeks - to cover Doncaster Knights Championship game against Nottingham, was to be reporting on a 52-7 defeat.

Meadow Lane is never an easy place to go at the best of times and the fact that the green and whites are flying high in the table right now made for a particularly testing encounter. But with new director of professional rugby, Clive Griffiths, watching his new charges for the first time, I had expected Knights to at least give them a run for their money.

Admittedly, Clive hadn’t had much time to work with his new charges due to a prior commitment with the Canadian national team. But the fact that he was at the game, though wisely taking a back seat, would, I thought, inspire the players on the day. But it was the home side who were inspired on the day as they ran in eight tries against one.

As well as a bonus point win, the home club were presented with the inaugural Robin Hood Shield. I understand that the home club had wanted the Shield to be decided over both games between the two clubs, but that Knights weren’t keen on the idea. I think it was something to do with the fact that both Nottingham and Doncaster claim to be the home of the legendary outlaw.

Doncaster Rovers answered their critics, who have been unhappy with some of their home performances by walloping a sorry-looking Scunthorpe United 4-0 at the Keepmoat Stadium.

I could well have done without the long drive to Brunton Park following the even longer trip to Portsmouth four days earlier, but the stunning scenery helped make amends. It wasn’t a bad game either, with four cracking goals being scored in Rovers’ 3-1 win.

Clubs like Carlisle, who look to have a couple of quality young players, are really struggling financially which probably explains why the stadium lights were switched off during the post-match conference.