Jack the Miner’s Coalface: Selective Memory
History is written by the victors and re-written in internet forums
Future issues of popular STAND fanzine will be awash with James Coppinger tributes as he approaches his appearance record. And rightly so. He’s been a mainstay of the re-born DRFC and at the very heart of the champagne moments we’ve witnessed in a glorious period for the club.
Of course, he’s not alone. One other player has put in a shift and has played shoulder to shoulder with Copps in all of those key games. He has helped create history.
Any guesses as to who I have in mind?
Cast your mind back to those pivotal never-to-be-forgotten games… Go back to 2005 and that magical League Cup night against Aston Villa when Rovers ran riot and stunned David O’Leary’s side with a comprehensive 3-0 victory. And fast forward to the quarter-final against a very lucky Arsenal side when Rovers were just seconds away from a semi-final place. He was there, doing his bit, under the radar fetching and carrying and feeding the Heff.
Who is it? Is it James O’Connor? No. I’m not thinking of Jimmy. And it’s not Michael McIndoe.
And who can forget that incredible day in the sunshine at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff in 2007 when Rovers survived Bristol Rovers’ fight back and went on to pick up the Football League Trophy thanks to Graeme Lee’s late winner in extra time?
He was there, chasing everything, running the channels and helping to run the clock down. So, it’s not Neil Sullivan. And it’s not Paul Heffernan.
Little over twelve months later he was there again on the biggest of stages; Wembley. Another day when the sun was shining and all our dreams came true and we shared in his joy as the champagne soaked players came to applaud the Rovers faithful.
Paul Green? It must be.
Another leap forward in the time machine finds us a few months later at the home of Derby County, our first game in the second tier for almost fifty years. Paul Green is on the pitch but he’s wearing the black and white of Derby, so we can exclude Greeny from our thoughts but our man was there; as he was too a few days later, in that first Championship home game at the Keepmoat against Cardiff City.
I’ve cast aside some Rovers greats along the way. They were magnificent but they weren’t ever-present in this miraculous era. Some left too early and some arrived too late for inclusion.
So, a prize to all those that said Lewis Guy; the only player to stand alongside James Coppinger in the cherished games that will be the centre piece of Rovers history books over the next hundred years.
No, don’t go…don’t turn the page looking for the return of Saunders PI. Stick with me…
I’m not trying to make a case for Lewis Guy as one of our all time greats. I’m merely presenting the facts. In the post-Conference universe, when Rovers made the world sit up and take notice and when legendary events have been carved in stone, he has been on the pitch.
A cynic might say that being on the pitch isn’t the same as making a contribution, but one version of The Illustrated History of Lewis Guy will be kind to him. He arrived on loan from Newcastle and made an immediate goal scoring impact with 3 goals in 9 games and signed a permanent deal. At the time it looked like good business. He was an England under 19 international with UEFA Cup experience and on the verge of partnering Alan Shearer in the Newcastle first team.
Two of the best managers Rovers have ever had – Penney and O’Driscoll – rated him enough for him to make 142 appearances in a Rovers shirt during their reigns. And whilst the flood of goals we expected never came, he combined well at times with Paul Heffernan. In fact, Heffernan’s goal against Villa was set up by a sublime flick from Guy. And let’s not forget the record books will always show that he scored Rovers’ first goal back in the Championship at Derby and the first Championship goal at the Keepmoat in the game that followed. Those goals were reminders of what he was capable of, as are the two goals – still viewable on YouTube – that he bagged against Luton Town in a 3-3 draw. Evidence that he really could find the back of the net.
But there’s another book, An Alternative Illustrated History of Lewis Guy. In this book he is viewed as a comic figure incapable of football basics, an habitual diver and reviled by many for being – thanks to one forum poster and universally accepted as gospel thereafter – a bit of a prat around town on a Saturday night….a bit harsh bearing in mind most football fans can give lessons in Saturday night dickheadery. The nail was firmly placed in his coffin by Sean O’Driscoll. Sean’s comments – no doubt meant to reassure the fans – left Guy as a permanent figure of ridicule. The words, “He’s really good in training” will go down in Rovers folklore.
Those early Championship highlights were the high water mark. Spells at Franchise FC, Oxford United, St.Mirren and Carlisle United have brought 9 goals in just over 80 games since departing Rovers in 2010.
So, Lewis Guy; allegedly a bit of a knob, Tom Daley’s new diving coach and a player who won’t make it into my all time Rovers First XI, Second XI or Third XI.
Yet he’s a player with a ten year playing career in an era when the average pro ekes out just three years. He’s also a cup winner, promotion winner, an ever present in key moments of the Rovers story and the scorer of ‘that’ goal at Pride Park, plus the whitest teeth this side of John Ryan. Perhaps history should be kinder to him.
Jack the Miner.
Issue 70 of popular STAND goes on sale ahead of Doncaster Rovers final home game of the season against Reading on Saturday 26 April and is, as ever, still only £1. purchase yours outside the Keepmoat Stadium ahead of kick-off, or get in touch with us to reserve yourself a copy.