Where Are They Now? Doncaster Rovers’ Conference Opponents

Amongst all the off-field wrangling and boardroom posturing it may have actually escaped your notice that Rovers have a match tonight. And not just any match either as we host our bogey team Yeovil Town in front of Sky’s many cameras allowing viewers across the nation to watch us to capitulate to a solitary strike late in the first half. This isn’t the first time Rovers have hosted The Glovers live on television though; ten years ago a Conference match between the two teams met at Belle Vue was also broadcast live by Murdoch’s satellite conglomerate.

Yeovil, celebrating a league title secured by Chester’s draw with Woking earlier that afternoon, went on to win 4-0 in that last televised fixture, but much has changed in the decade since. Via the play-offs Rovers also went up that season and the two sides have continued to grow, to the point where tonight they will meet in a fourth different division in a decade. But whilst Yeovil have followed the Rovers up to the second tier, what became of the 35 other teams Rovers came up against in Conference fixtures? As you’ll see from our round-up below, the incredible truth is that a quarter of them no longer exist.

Altrincham Crest

ALTRINCHAM

NOW: Conference North (6th Tier)

Altrincham have yo-yoed between the top two divisions of non-league for the last fifteen years and met Rovers for just one of those; 1999-2000. Reprieved from relegation from the Conference for three successive seasons between 2005 and 2008 due to other sides financial misdemeanours, they eventually dropped to the Conference North in 2011.

 

Barnet crest

BARNET

NOW: Conference Premier (5th Tier)

Barnet dropped into the Conference for Rovers’ final two seasons in non-league, but had return to the fourth tier by 2005. Having maintained their league status on the final day of the season for three successive campaigns the Bees were eventually relegated at the end of last season under the management of Edgar Davids. Having left Underhill, their home for over 100 years at the end of last season the club now play at The Hive in Edgware.

 

Barrow AFC crest

BARROW AFC

NOW: Conference North (6th Tier)

Thrown out of the Conference in 1999 Barrow worked their way up from the Northern Premier League to return to non-league’s top division in 2008. Despite an impressive Cup run that saw them backed by 7,000 fans at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium Barrow couldn’t quite replicate form in the league and were relegated to the Conference North at the end of last season.

 

Boston United crest

BOSTON UNITED

NOW: Conference North (6th Tier)

After their murky promotion to the Football League under Steve Evans in 2002, Boston lasted five years as a League club before relegation in 2007. Having been entered onto a Company Voluntary Arrangement just before their final game of that season, The Pilgrims were relegated not to the Conference, but the Conference North. At the end of 2007-08, with the club still in a CVA they were demoted another division to the Northern Premier League.  They returned to the Conference North in 2010.

 

Burton Albion crest

BURTON ALBION

NOW: League Two (4th Tier)

Conference opponents for only our final season in non-league Burton continued their upward progression by winning the Conference title in 2009. After three seasons spent in the bottom half of League Two Burton finished last season in 4th place, but were beaten by Bradford City in the play-off semi-finals.

 

Cheltenham Town crest

CHELTENHAM TOWN

NOW: League Two (4th Tier)

Another side who Rovers faced in only one non-league season, The Robins won the Conference title in 1999 to progress to league football. Since becoming a Football League side Cheltenham have had two spells in the third tier, the first of which was infamously prolonged when The Robins defeated Rovers on the final day of the 2007-08 season to salvage their place in League One and deny Rovers automatic promotion to the Championship.

 

Chester City crest

CHESTER CITY

NOW: Dissolved (Reformed as Chester FC, in Conference Premier (5th Tier)

Beaten by Rovers in the 2003 Conference play-offs, Chester regrouped to win promotion back to the Football League in 2003. After a number of seasons of struggle Chester City were relegated back to non-league in 2008 and entered administration shortly after. Things did not improve and the club were back in administration again in 2009, and a subsequent season beset with troubles and mismanagement came to a head in February 2010 when the club failed to fulfil a fixture at Forest Green. The club were duly expelled from the league and dissolved. In their place came the supporter-owned Chester FC who began life in the Northern Premier League in 2010 and following three successive title wins are now back in the Conference Premier.

 

Dagenham & Redbridge crest

DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE

NOW: League Two (4th Tier)

After being pipped to the title by Boston in 2002 and then beaten in the play-off final by Rovers in 2003, Dagenham had to wait until 2007 before finally making it to the Football League. Victory over Rotherham in the 2010 play-off final took the Daggers to the third tier, but their time here lasted just one season and they were relegated back to League Two in 2011.

 

Dover Athletic crest

DOVER ATHLETIC

NOW: Conference South (6th Tier)

Relegated from the Conference in 2002, Dover found themselves in the seventh tier Isthmian League after the reorganisation of non-league in 2004. They dropped a further level in 2005, and almost ceased to exist in January that year before a consortium led by former director Jim Parmenter saved the club and wiped out an existing CVA. Successive promotions in 2009 and 2010 have lifted the club to the Conference South.

 

Farnborough Town crest

FARNBOROUGH TOWN

NOW: Dissolved (reformed as Farnborough FC, in Conference South (6th Tier)

Relegated in Rovers’ first Conference season Farnborough Town returned for Doncaster’s final two years as a non-league team. After dropping to the Conference South in 2005 the club hit financial difficulties and entered administration in 2007, befor being dissolved that summer. Phoenix club Farnborough FC were established in Southern League Division one, and the reformed club have since won two titles to reach the Conference South again.

 

Forest Green Rovers crest

FOREST GREEN ROVERS

NOW: Conference Premier (5th Tier)

FGR arrived in the Conference at the same time as Rovers, and there is something pleasing in knowning that the only team to have been ever present in the fifth tier since. Tipped for relegation in most of their fifteen seasons at the top level of non-league, they looked to have finally succumbed to the drop in 2010, but Salisbury City’s financial misdemeanours saved them at the eleventh hour. Now owned by green energy tycoon Dale Vince the club infamously don’t sell red meat at their New Lawn home and have installed solar panels on their roof and the world’s first organic pitch.

 

Gravesend & Northfleet crest

GRAVESEND & NORTHFLEET

NOW: Conference South (6th Tier) (renamed as Ebbsfleet United)

Renamed as Ebbsfleet United in 2007 the club were taken over by MyFootballClub later that year in which members to the MyFC website had a say on Ebbsfleet’s transfers and player selection. The club were relegated to the Conference South in 2010 where they remain, though in April this year MyFC’s remaining members (membership had dropped from 32,000 to under 9,000) voted to hand over two thirds of their shares to the Fleet Trust.

 

Halifax Town crest

HALIFAX TOWN

NOW: Dissolved (reformed as FC Halifax Town, in Conference Premier (5th Tier)

Following their relegation from the Football League The Shaymen met Rovers in the Conference during the 2002-03 season.  In 2007, the club was placed into administration and though they avoided relegation they  failed to secure a CVA and were  wound up in 2008 more than £2million in the red. Though the Supporters’ Trust had led a breakaway group, the club was reformed by the same directors as FC Halifax Town and began afresh in the Northern Premier League Division one North in 2008. They were promoted back to the Conference Premier in the summer.

 

Hayes crest

HAYES

NOW: Dissolved (merged with Yeading United to form Hayes & Yeading United, Conference South (6th Tier)

Hayes were relegated in 2002 and in 2007 merged with Yeading United to form Hayes & Yeading United who continue to play in the Conference South. The new club left Hayes’ Church Road ground – scene of the infamous mid-match segregation of 2000 and subsequent snack-bar related sing-a-long  – in 2011, with the stadium demolished for housing soon after. Whilst Yeading United’s old ground is refurbished the club have been ground-sharing with Woking in front of understandably meagre crowds.

 

Hednesford Town crest

HEDNESFORD TOWN

NOW: Conference North (6th Tier)

Relegated from the Conference in 2001, Hednesford dropped further, falling into the seventh tier in 2006. Their geographical location has led to The Pitmen being shunted between the Northern and Southern Premier Leagues for the next six seasons before victory over FC United of Manchester in the 2013 play-offs saw Hednesford return to the Conference North.

 

Hereford United crest

HEREFORD UNITED

NOW: Conference Premier (5th Tier)

After three successive Conference play-off failures, Hereford eventually won promotion to the Football League in 2006 after defeating Halifax Town in the final. In 2008 the club finished third in League Two to secure promotion to League One though they lasted just one season in the third tier. Despite the best efforts of former Rovers’ Assistant Manager Richard O’Kelly, the Bulls dropped back to the Conference in 2012.

 

Kettering Town crest

KETTERING TOWN

NOW: Calor Southern League Division One Central (8th Tier)

Long-time Conference stalwarts Kettering Town soldiered on in the fifth tier until 2011-12. Hit by financial difficulties Kettering left their Rockingham Road ground, and saw it repossessed by bailiffs. Playing first at Rushden’s Nene Park and then at Corby Town’s Steel Park Ketetring struggled on the field too, the club announced they were unable to pay their players in November and were eventually relegated in a CVA agreement in 2012. Things did not improve the following season with The Poppies only able to field ten men in one game and having to forfeit a number of following games. The club are now based in Burton Latimer.

 

Kidderminster Harriers crest

KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS

NOW: Conference Premier (5th Tier)

The Harriers lifted the Conference title in 2000, but after five seasons in League Two they were back in the non-league top-flight by 2005 and have remained there since. Beset by financial difficulties in 2011, the Harriers’ Supporters Trust were instrumental in keeping the club afloat and now hold a seat on the board.

 

Kingstonian crest

KINGSTONIAN

NOW: Ryman Premier League (7th Tier)

The other red and white hoops, despite Ian Duerden’s cup heroics Kingstonian were relegated to the Isthmian League in 2001, before suffering further relegation to Isthmian Division One in 2005. Now sharing their Kingsmeadow home with AFC Wimbledon, who purchased the lease in 2003, the club are back at the seventh tier after winning Ryman League Division One South in 2009.

 

Leek Town crest

LEEK TOWN

NOW: Evo-Stik Northern Premier League First Division South (8th Tier)

Rovers met Leek Town during the second of their only two seasons at non-league’s top table. Such was the Southern axis of the Conference in that season that Leek were considered Rovers ‘local opposition’ with The Blues defeating Rovers 1-0 at Belle Vue on Boxing Day 1998. I can still see David Penney’s late penalty cannoning back off the crossbar all the way back to halfway. Since leaving the Conference in 1999 Leek have remained in the Northern Premier League, shuffling between the division’s two tiers.

 

Leigh RMI crest

LEIGH R.M.I.

NOW: Dissolved (reformed as Leigh Genesis, South Lancashire Counties Football League (Sunday Football)

After five seasons in the Conference Leigh RMI fell to the Conference North in 2005, and dropped a further division to the Northern Premier League in 2008. In June that year the Club were renamed Leigh Genesis with plans to move the club to the 11,000 capacity Leigh Sports Village – an ambitious project for a club who had their crowd noise piped through speakers when Rovers visited in 2002. The ‘new-beginning’ failed to materialise and after two further relegations the club was dissolved in 2011. It has since been resurrected in Lancashire Sunday football.

 

Margate crest

MARGATE

NOW: Ryman Premier League (7th Tier)

The Gate reached the Conference for the first time in 2001, but having ground-shared with Dover Athletic from 2002 they were relegated in 2004 after failing to upgrade their own Hartsdown Park ground in sufficient time.  Now back at the palce they have called home since 1929, Margate remain in the Conference South.

 

Morecambe crest

MORECAMBE

NOW: League Two (4th Tier)

Under the guidance of Sammy McIlroy Morecambe won the Conference Play-Off Final to earn promotion to the Footbal League in 2007. Though they reached the League Two play-offs in their third season, they have remained at the fourth tier ever since, and moved to a new home at Globe Park in 2010.

 

Northwich Victoria crest

NORTHWICH VICTORIA

NOW: Evo-Stik Northern Premier League First Division North (8th Tier)

After going into administration the Vics were relegated from the Conference in 2005. Though they returned at the first attempt, a second spell in administration saw them relegated back to the sixth tier in 2009. With the club’s financial situation not improving they were further demoted to the Northern Premier League in 2010. Homeless following the sale of their Victoria Stadium, itself a replacement for the Drill Field which they left in 2005, Victoria were dropped a further division for financial issues in 2012. Though the Vics remain in operation in 2012 Northwich’s Supporters Trust formed a breakaway club 1874 Northwich who began life in the North West Counties League Division One (10th tier) this season.

 

Nuneaton Borough crest

NUNEATON BOROUGH

NOW: Dissolved (reformed as Nuneaton Town, Conference Premier (5th Tier)

Relegated from the Conference on the final day of the 2002-03 season, Nuneaton Borough continued in the sixth tier, but left their long-standing Manor Park Ground in 2007. A year later, having been forced into administration the club was dissolved, and reformed as Nuneaton Town, beginning life in the Southern League Division One Midlands. Now based at Liberty Way, the club reached the Conference Premier in 2012.

 

Rushden & Diamonds crest

RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS

NOW: Dissolved (reformed as AFC Rushden & Diamonds, United Counties League Premier Division (9th Tier)

Conference champions in 2001, Max Griggs’ play thing lost in the play-off final in their first season as a League club, before winning the League Two title in 2003. They lasted just one year in the third tier, and by 2006 were back in the Conference. By then Griggs had handed over control to the Supporters Trust, but in 2011 the club were expelled from the Conference Premier  due to their unstable financial position, and subsequently dissolved. In 2012 Supporters created a new phoenix club, AFC Rushden & Diamonds, in the United Counties League. Their impressive Nene Park stadium remains vacant and unused since Kettering’s brief tenure.

 

Scarborough FC crest

SCARBOROUGH

NOW: Dissolved (reformed as Scarborough Athletic, Evo-Stik Northern Premier League First Division South (8th Tier)

Relegated by Jimmy Glass’ infamous goal in 1999 Scarborough were our main county rivals in the Conference. The 5-2 win at the McCain Stadium on Boxing Day 2002 remains one of my favourite ever games; it had everything except sadly a Christmas tree, after a Rovers fan was prevented from taking one through the turnstiles by staid stewards despite his protestations “but it’s the only game it’s relevant”. Sadly with four years of playing Rovers in front of 4,000 fans Scarborough were playing in front of a tenth of that figure at nearby Rossington Main. Dissolved at the end of one season in the Conference North in 2007, the club reformed as Scarborough Athletic in North East Counties League Divison One (football’s 10th tier) playing at Bridlington Town’s Queensgate after the demolition of the McCain Stadium. After winning the NCEL Premier title last season Athletic are now up to the 8th tier and have had further good news this month, with a new ground – as part of a sports village in Scarborough – approved by the council.

 

Southport FC crest

SOUTHPORT

NOW: Conference Premier (5th Tier)

Relgated to the Conference North in 2003, The Sandgroudners have yo-yoed between the fifth and sixth tiers ever since, enjoying a brief return to the Conference Premier under Dino Maamria in 2005. They have been back in the Premier since winning the Conference North title in 2010.

 

Stalybridge Celtic crest

STALYBRIDGE CELTIC

NOW: Conference North (6th Tier)

Celtic met Rovers just twice in the Conference, enjoying a solitary season in the non-league top flight in 2002-03. Founder members of the Conference North they have remained at the sixth tier for the last ten years.

Stevenage Borough crest

STEVENAGE BOROUGH

NOW: League One (3rd Tier) (renamed as Stevenage FC)

Conference mainstays Stevenage Borough won the division in 2010 to progress to the Football League for the first time. Once in the League they didn’t hang about with a play-off win over Torquay in 2011 securing a successive promotion to the third tier. Stevenage reached the play-offs again in their first season in League One but were beaten by Sheffield United in the semi-finals – a fate which prompted them to remove the Borough from their name in embarrassment.

 

Sutton United crest

SUTTON UNITED

NOW: Conference South (6th Tier)

Like Altrincham Sutton United were Rovers opponents in only the 1999-2000 season, having returned to the Isthmian League after just one season at non-league’s top table. Placed in the Conference South following its creation in 2004 Sutton were relegated to the Isthmian League again in 2007, but after lifting the 2011 title they are now back in the sixth tier.

Telford United crest

TELFORD UNITED

NOW: Dissolved (reformed as AFC Telford United, Conference North (6th Tier)

Founder members of the Conference in 1979 Telford United were wound up in 2004 after chairman 100% shareholder Andrew Shaw’s business empire went into administration. The Supporters’ Trust moved quick to establish a phoenix club with AFC Telford United beginning life in the Northern Premier League Division One. Still playing at Bucks Head AFC Telford United reached the Conference Premier in 2011, winning the Conference North play-offs at the third attempt.

 

Welling United crest

WELLING UNITED

NOW: Conference Premier (5th Tier)

Relegated from the Conference on the last day of the 1999-2000 season Welling became founder members of the Conference South in 2004 after finishing in the top half of the Southern Premier League. A fundraising drive by supporters in 2010 staved off a HMRC winding-up order to keep the club alive and at the end of last season they won the Conference South title to return to the fifth tier.

 

Woking crest

WOKING

NOW: Conference Premier (5th Tier)

The Cards remained in the Conference until 2009, when a calamitous season ended with them relegated to the Conference South. Now run by a Supporters’ Trust Woking returned to the Conference Premier ahead of last season after beating Dartford to the title.

 

Yeovil Town crest

YEOVIL TOWN

NOW: CHAMPIONSHIP (2nd Tier)

Last but definitely not least, the team it has been easiest to keep track off, not least because they keep bloody beating us. Champions in the year Rovers won the Conference play-offs, but had to wait a year longer than Doncaster to lift the League Two title. Beaten in the 2007 League One play-off final, The Glovers finally exorcised that demon last season to beat Brentford at Wembley and reach the second tier.

Glen Wilson