Thanks to popular STAND subscriber Wayne Tomlinson who emailed us today to remind us that the 1st May is of course Tristram Whitman Day. Sometimes you forget how far Doncaster Rovers have traveled in just a decade, and as we get set for a second spell in the second tier it is often a little too easy to forget that only 10 years ago we were still a non-league club. It is now 10 years to the day since Rovers hosted Chester City in the first-leg of the first ever Conference Play-Off semi-finals.
Despite finishing in the higher league position, a clash of dates with the horse-racing across the road meant that Rovers had to play the Belle Vue leg first, and in front of a packed Belle Vue had fallen behind to a Kevin McIntyre goal 37 minutes in. Rovers almost bounced back straight away through Ricky Ravenhill, but the midfielder’s effort came back off the bar and as full-time loomed Rovers still trailed by a single goal. And then, in the fourth minute of time added on for the dismissal of Chester’s Mark Quayle, and with Ravenhill left strewn on the turf with cramp, came Whitman’s big moment; cutting in from the right he hit a swerving shot that deceived Wayne Brown in the visitor’s goal to find the bottom corner.
The goal, not only kept hopes alive for the second leg, but also sparked incredible scenes of celebration across Belle Vue, as Whitman made an arcing celebratory run across the face of the Pop Side, dodging celebrating Doncastrians spilling out onto the turf as he went. An unforgettable night, and one which ensured both Whitman’s infamy amongst Rovers supporters, and also proved a hugely significant contribution to Rovers’ route back to the Football League from which they haven’t ever really looked back.