Stalwart Brooks puts the Don in the Dons

Dons stalwart Don Brookes, of Scawthorpe, with his 2012 Championship One winners medal.
Dons stalwart Don Brookes, of Scawthorpe, with his 2012 Championship One winners medal.

There are club stalwarts and then there are club stalwarts.

There is no doubting the credentials of Don Brooks and his place in the storied history of the Dons.

The 84-year-old has carried out various roles at the club over the years and is very much an institution.

Brooks coached the club’s Under-17 and Under-19 teams and later became a member of the first-team coaching team under Les Belshaw.

He also coached the club’s second team only to see the club disband it at the end of the 1967-68 season, partly because it proved too successful.

“The chairman said the club couldn’t afford to keep running the team because it was costing too much money in winning pay,” recalled Brooks, who was axed along with the rest of the coaching staff at the end of that season.

A qualified first aider, Brooks returned to the club in an official capacity when being appointed ‘sponge man’ at the start of the 1972-73 season.

Over the years, Brooks worked alongside many coaches in his role.

“I thought that John Sheridan was one of the best coaches we’ve had at the club,” he said.

“I also thought that Ellery Hanley did a good job.”

Among the other coaches to have impressed Brooks is current team boss Tony Miller. “Tony was an excellent player for the club, and worked under Singe (St John Ellis) and Hanley and he’s proven to be a good coach in his own right,” he said.

Like a lot of people connected with the club, Brooks is disappointed with attendances at the Keepmoat.

Although he readily concedes that the facilities are in a different league to those of their previous homes, Brooks claims: “It’s not the easiest place to get to from the part of town where we have the most support if you haven’t got a car. We used to get better crowds when we played at Belle Vue.”

Keen angler Brooks takes more of a back seat these days, but is still involved most weekends.

“I still help out with the pre-match rubbing down and massaging,” he said.

“I’ve been saying for the last few years that this will be my last season but I keep on doing it.”

It will be a sad day when Brooks, one of only two life members, finally hangs up his boots.

For now, he is enjoying being part of the club’s challenge of remaining in the Championship.

And Brooks has backed the Dons to keep their Northern Rail Cup campaign on track in tonight’s quarter final clash with Swinton Lions.

“I think we can beat them – though it could depend on how many dual-registered players from Warrington they field,” he said.