All posts by glen wilson

Former schoolboy, Glen Wilson writes on football and travel and has been editor of the award-winning popular STAND fanzine since before the award.

FAWSL: Doncaster Rovers Belles 0-2 Liverpool

Disappointment for the Doncaster Rovers Belles on Saturday, as two great strikes from visitors Liverpool proved the difference between the two FAWSL sides. The 2-0 defeat drops the Belles back to the foot of the table as the League pauses for a mid-season break for international and Olympic fixtures

In front of a crowd of 600 at the Keepmoat both sides forced chances from corners in the opening five minutes. Liverpool were first to threaten as Michelle Evans’ dead ball delivery was only half-cleared, but Cheryl Foster’s driven shot flew just beyond the angle of the bar and post. At the other end a good ball into the far post found Leandra Little in space, but unfortunately the defender could only pull her shot wide of the goal.

The Belles were left to rue that chance just a few minutes later as Lynda Shepherd fired in a spectacular goal to open the scoring; the ball dropping for Shepherd almost thirty yards out and she struck an unstoppable first time half-volley right into the top corner of Mary Earps’ net.

Midway through the half came the Belles’ best chance to level the scores; Alyssa Lagonia, who looked most composed on the ball throughout, hitting an incredible 40 yard through ball to split the defence and release Aine O’Gorman in the left channel, but O’Gorman, cutting inside could only drive her shot against the under side of the bar and the visitors managed to clear.

Though the Belles seemed to be faring better in terms of possession and territory Liverpool remained a constant threat on the break and almost found a second goal as Foster’s cross from the right was prodded just the right side of her own goal-post by Lucy Sowerby. At the other end the Belles were starting to create opportunities as half-time approached, firstly as Millie Bright fired over, and then on the stroke of half-time as an attempted clearance cannoned back towards goal off O’Gorman, but Nicola Davies was able to make the save.

The second-half began in the midst of a heavy downpour which sent the crowd scurrying back up the seats for shelter, and those who turned their back on the game to escape the rain missed another fantastic strike from the visitors. Chloe Jones twenty-five yard strike flying into the roof of the net, but fortunately for the Belles the referee’s whistle had already sounded for a foul. The Belles almost took advantage of the let-off as O’Gorman looked to get onto a ball over the top of the Liverpool defence, however under pressure from the defence the Belles winger could only fire wide.

On the hour mark though Liverpool struck again, a decisive goal which seemed to take the wind from the Belles sails and effectively wrap up the win for the visitors. Katie Brussell cutting in from the right flank before curling an unstoppable strike beyond Earps to make it 2-0. Though there was little the Belles ‘keeper could do about the two goals she did manage to keep her side in the game in the closing half hour with a couple of key saves from Foster, Kelly Jones and Emily Gielnik.

The Belles struggled to find any momentum on which to launch an attack of their own; substitute Beth England yelling “Oh f**k off!” at an over-hit through-ball as it sailed past her head proving something of an effective summary of the Belles final half hour. Their only telling chance came in injury time as England found space to get in an effort on goal, but Davies was equal to it and managed to preserve the 2-0 win for her side.

Belles line-up (4-4-2); Mary Earps; Lucy Sowerby, Lyndsey Cunningham, Leandra Little, Naomi Chadwick; Alyssa Lagonia (Beth England), Katie Holtham, Kasia Lipka, Aine O’Gorman (Julie-Ann Russell); Jess Sigsworth (Tanya Oxtoby), Millie Bright

Dumbuya Misses Out on International Debut

After some thorough research the fanzine has discovered that unfortunately Mustapha Dumbuya did not feature for Sierra Leone in the African Cup of Nations 1st round match against Sao Tome & Principe at the weekend. The match, played in Freetown on Saturday, finished 4-2 to Sierra Leone, giving them a 5-4 win on aggregate, but further details on the game had been hard to come by following a media blackout of the match.

Journalists in Freetown had been told by the local government that they would have to pay to enter the stadium and cover the fixture; as such the Leone media duly elected to boycott the fixture meaning that the only information available to the wider world is the timing of the goals. However, thanks to a couple of friendly enquiries, and the wonder of Twitter, we’ve been able to ascertain from someone present at the match that unfortunately Mustapha Dumbuya did not make his long awaited debut for Sierra Leone.

From the bench or the stands Dumbuya will have seen the Islanders of Sao Tome & principe take a surprise lead after just thirty seconds of the game through Jair Nunes. However the Leone Stars hit back with four first half goals in a twenty-three minute spell; Kei Kamura and Ibrahim Bangura both scoring a brace to secure a 5-3 aggregate advantage at the break. Sao Tome pulled another goal back after the break through Jose da Silva Varela to set up a nervy end to the game, not helped when Kamara had a goal ruled out for offside with twenty minutes to go, but eventually Sierra Leone held on to secure a passage to the 2nd round.

Thanks to Steve of Mirko Bolesan for his help.

Hopefully, Dumbuya’s willingness to travel to Freetown and keeness to be involved in the international set-up will see him feature in Sierra Leone’s future internationals.

BREAKING: Rovers 2012-13 Fixtures Announced

The 2012-13 Football League fixtures are announced in the morning, but then you knew that. Tomorrow will not only be the day we get to discover when Rovers will play their 23 respective league opponents, but also one in which get to revel in just how much news agencies and official club websites can pad out what is in effect the publication of a list into a ‘news’ story. So whilst the press race to press ‘publish’ first thing in the morning the fanzine has decided to get the jump on them and enjoy a lie-in by publishing our fixture announcement piece tonight. Here you go…

The fixtures for the 2012-13 NPower Football League season have today been released with Doncaster Rovers set to begin life back in League One with a [daunting/promising/relatively easy] [trip to face/home tie against] [insert club]. This opening day clash will be the first time the two clubs have locked horns since [Rovers’ promotion/they met at Belle Vue/Rovers’ return to the League] in [insert month and year].

As with [last year/many of their recent seasons] Doncaster will end the season with a [tricky/potentially important/notable] fixture  [at the Keepmoat Stadium/away from home] against [Division newcomers/potential play-off candidates/familiar foes] [insert club].

Rovers are set to face a testing Christmas and New Year with several games in quick succession over the festive period, most notable of which is the local derby against [Scunthorpe/Sheffield United/Notts County] on [Boxing Day/New Years’ Day].

Fans [won’t have to wait long/will need to be patient] for the first of the season’s big South Yorkshire derbies against Sheffield United, which will take place at [Bramall Lane/the Keepmoat Stadium] on [insert date], whilst the season’s first M180 derby against Scunthorpe [is not until/comes a little sooner on] [insert date].

[September/October/November] looks set to be a particularly daunting month for Dean Saunders’ men as they host [insert names of highest profile opponents] at the Keepmoat Stadium, whilst also making difficult away trips to [insert names of at least two clubs that are some distance away].

Other notable dates see Rovers come face to face with former manager Sean O’Driscoll and his Crawley Town side on [insert date] at [the Keepmoat/Broadfield Stadium], whilst they will also renew rivalries with former Conference foes Stevenage on [insert date].

Rovers Launch New Home Kit

Another new season, another new home kit for the Rovers. The striking new design was revealed on the official club website this week, with the news that it will be formally launched, and available to buy, at the fans’ forum event at the Stadium on Monday evening.

Of course clubs no longer simply bring out kits these days, instead they launch them, and Rovers’ latest strip (shown here as depicted on the club website in front of the new away kit) is no exception to this process. It too has been brought to us with the now typical marketing spiel from Nike in which the global sports brand tell us how this latest shirt is harder, better, faster, stronger than that which went before it. With this in mind, a crack unit was despatched from popular STAND HQ  to intercept Nike’s PR Monkeys and they proved succesful, enabling us to wrestle the new strip’s marketing spiel from their über-cool faux-nerd leather satchel and break it to you here first…

TOP SECRET – PRESS RELEASE DR0612:
BACKGROUND TO 2012-13 NIKE DONCASTER HOME SHIRT LAUNCH

Nike are delighted to unveil their revolutionary new Doncaster Rovers home jersey to be worn for the season 2012-13. The kit embodies a period of transition at the club and marks a bold departure from the tired hoops which have come, in recent seasons, to symbolise defeat, despair, and an apparent lack of Plan B.

Instead the club has joined with us and created a vision of the future, enabling us to move forwards and make a bold, progressive move to an enigmatic, triumphant, dynamic black. The black of the shirt hints towards this bright tomorrow, actualizing how we first encounter the new day, through the darkness of the inside of our own eyelids, but similarly acknowledges the importance of the club’s past. Black pays homage to the role played by industry in the establishment of both Doncaster and the Rovers, black embodies the colour of coal mined in the local communities and used to power the steam trains manufactured in the town. The hard work, perseverance and mind-numbing tedium of industry continue to be reflected in the club today, as anyone who has tried to deal with the club’s marketing department can attest.

As a further tribute to the industry and tradition at the heart of Doncaster, and the club, the shirt itself is crafted from a unique and innovative material forged from the very base of the community. Woven from a blend of Bridon Steel Ropes and horse-hair collected from past winners of the St Leger and fused by Parkinsons Butterscotch. The shirt is then specially tailored into a duo-sleeved neck-holed torso-shroud making it adaptable for players and fans alike. The unique fabric offers little movement and an uncomfortable fit, thus perfectly embodying John Sheridan’s stint at Belle Vue.

The striking Question Mark design is inspired by the classic minimalist kit tailoring of the 1960s, most notably that of celebrated Rovers fan Frank Gorshin; The Riddler in the Batman television series. The Question Mark composition has also been chosen to give base to our football watching, serving as a telling reminder of the element of the unknowing which permeates the game, and draws us, as fans, back, week after week. Will they win? Will they lose? Will they draw? We do not know. We cannot know. It is unknown. And it is this excitement, this element of suspense, which we have strived to encapsulate within this shirt.

The badge is depicted in black and black, on black. This audacious colourway symbolises mourning, the mourning both of relegation from League Two and the departure of hometown hero Sam ‘der Kaiser’ Hird. In portraying the badge in black and black on black it not only echos the crest-less first club kit of 1879, but also becomes invisible, a presence which is known but unseen, thus denotative of past Rovers players Damian Plessis, Tomi Ameobi, Justin Jackson and Mirsad Bubaslovic.

Finally, and most importantly, in this new shirt we wanted to encapsulate the importance, the passion and the pride that supporters and players alike feel of their home club. We strived for one emblematic adornment that would simply, but effectively, epitomise the very embodiment of all that it means to represent your home against the rest of the world, encapturing the spirit of fellow Doncastrians; the bravery of Douglas Bader, the invention of Benjamin Huntsman, the doggedness of Kevin Keegan, the brazen boorishness of Jeremy Clarkson. And so, to this end, we added the big white words ‘Home Kit’.

FAWSL Continental Cup: Birmingham City 2-0 Doncaster Rovers Belles

The Belles FAWSL Continental Cup sojourn is over after defeat in their final group game away at Birmingham City. A goal in each half from Eni Aluko and Jodie Taylor proved enough to win it for the Blues who go on to face Lincoln in the semi-finals.

Though the Belles had the first effort on goal through a Jess Sigsworth shot which flew just over it would be the home side who dominated the game. Indeed Doncaster would have goalkeeper Mary Earps to thank for keeping them in the game, the keeper making a great stop to her left to deny Taylor early on, the first of many. It took a good challenge from Leandra Little to stop Taylor getting in on goal again, whilst Earps was on hand once more to deny Rachel Williams.

At the other end the Belles were struggling to create clear opportunities and so it wasn’t too surprising as Birmingham went ahead on the half hour mark, Aluko breaking into the area to drill a low shot past Earps. Doncaster’s best chance of an equaliser came just before the break as Kasia Lipka slid a neat pass into the path of Aine O’Gorman, but the Irish international fired wide.

After the break normal service resumed as Birmingham pushed for a second goal; Rachel Unitt could only redirect a Karen Carney free-kick wide of the goal, whilst Earps made another excellent stop down to her left to deny Williams. Eventually though the Blues did get their second goal, a long ball from Emily Westwood catching out the Belles back-line and Taylor managed to hold off the recovering challenges to slot past Earps for 2-0.

Though chances were fleeting, Doncaster didn’t give up on finding a consolation and almost found one as Sigsworth intercepted a stray pass and hit a long-range effort which didn’t quite dip enough to fall beneath Marie Hourihan’s crossbar. That was to prove as close as the Belles came to taking anything from the game, as Birmingham held out for the win as they continue their pursuit of the treble.

Belles line-up: Mary Earps; Leandra Little, Lyndsey Cunningham, Tanya Oxtoby, Naomi Chadwick (Shelby Hills); Alyssa Lagonia, Kasia Lipka, Katie Holtham, Aine O’Gorman (Bethany England); Millie Bright (Julie-Ann Russell), Jessica Sigsworth

Dumbuya Earns Sierra Leone Call-Up

It looks like fanzine favourite Mustapha Dumbuya will finally achieve his aim of representing his country having been called up to the Sierra Leone squad for the country’s current bout of African Nations’ Cup qualifying games.

Dumbuya was named in the Sierra Leone squad for all three of the nation’s June fixtures – against the Cape Verde Islands, Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tome and Principe – but having fallen ill on return from a recent holiday Dumbuya has unfortunately had to miss the first two fixtures. It was beginning to feel as though things were conspiring to prevent the full-back making an international appearance; back in February Dumbuya received his first call-up to the Leone Stars’ squad, again for a game with Sao Tome and Principe, but unfortunately the Sierra Leone FA mistakenly sent his papers to Crystal Palace where he had recently been on loan and so he was unable to make his flight out to join the squad.

Thankfully though it seems Dumbuya finally will run out for his country in Freetown, as he gets set to join the squad ahead of this Saturday’s return fixture with the brilliantly nicknamed ‘Falcons and True Parrots’. Speaking to the Rovers Offical website Dumbuya said “It feels amazing. To be representing your country makes you feel really proud, I just can’t wait to get out there and play.”

Hird You’re Leaving Town

A somewhat surprise bit of early summer transfer news as Sam Hird leaves Rovers for League Two Chesterfield, signing a two-year deal with the Spirites. Doncaster-born Hird has played over 150 games for Rovers since his initial loan spell from Leeds United back in 2007, the vast majority of them in the second tier. Hird got his break in the Rovers side towards the end of the 2007-08 season courtesy of injuries to Gordon Greer, Adam Lockwood and Stephen Roberts and never looked back, keeping captain Lockwood out of the side for the 2008 play-off final.

Capable of playing in defence or in a holding midfield Sam had been nicknamed ‘der Kaiser’ by the fanzine, after an impressive performance at Vicarage Road on the opening day of the 2009-10 season in which he not only marshalled the back-line but pinged passes about for fun. A very capable and talented player, at times last season he looked Rovers best asset and so his decision to drop to the fourth tier is a perplexing one given he clearly has the potential to play much higher.

You can’t fault Hird for seeking a solid future elsewhere, and we of course wish him well, but the move also highlights Rovers’ own incapacity in relation to transfers at present. Unable to offer deals to players they wish to keep unless existing players are purchased and taken elsewhere the club is currently marooned by the side of the transfer road and flashing a bit of leg (or Jamie Coppinger) in the hope that a perspective suitor will come and get us moving again. This could prove to be just the start of interesting summer.

FAWSL: Lincoln Ladies 1-2 Doncaster Rovers Belles

Hard earned, hard fought and a long time coming, but the Doncaster Rovers Belles gained their first points of the 2012 FAWSL campaign with a 2-1 victory over Lincoln Ladies.

The Belles had an early opportunity to take the lead against the run of play at Ashby Avenue as Jess Sigsworth latched onto a ball over the top, but unfortunately the forward’s first touch was heavy, and Lincoln ‘keeper Nicola Hobbs was able to come out and gather.

Doncaster looked like they would rue that chance too as the hosts took the lead just a few minutes later; Lucy Staniforth’s corner from the left finding Daly at the far post to head beyond Mary Earps and into the net. Bouyed by their opener Lincoln continued to press and almost doubled their lead soon after as a sweeping move saw Collette McCallum played in on goal, but Earps was alert and out well to thwart the attack with a good close range save.

As the match approached the half hour mark the Belles finally began to asert themselves on the game; Aine O’Gorman turned her marker inside out on the byline before drilling the ball across goal, forcing Hobbs to turn it behind for a corner. And from the set-piece O’Gorman picked out captain Katie Holtham, but her header bounced up over the bar.

Balls into the box would be the key to the Belles affecting a fantastic turnaround shortly after as they went from 1-0 down to 2-1 in front within the space of a minute. Firt Alyssa Lagonia made space on the right, pulling back for Lucy Sowerby, and the right-back’s cross was met by Mille Bright, the forward beating Hobbs to the ball to turn the ball home for the equaliser. And straight from the kick-off O’Gorman and Sigsworth pressured Lincoln to force a corner, and O’Gorman’s perfect far-post delivery was bundled over the line at the far post by Holtham.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the Belles spent the second half on the back foot as Lincoln pressed for an equaliser, but a fantastic rearguard display meant that despite much home pressure Lincoln struggled to create genuine chances. A free-kick from Staniforth which was turned behind the near post by Earps at full-length being the closest they came until injury time. With just a minute of added time to go Lincoln thought they had equalised as the ball was turned in from a goalmouth scramble, but the whistle had already gone for handball and the goal was ruled out to ensure a much-needed 2-1 win for the Belles.

Belles line-up (4-4-1-1): Earps; Sowerby, Cunningham, Little, Chadwick (Oxtoby); Lagonia (Russell), Holtham, Lipka, O’Gorman (England); Bright; Sigsworth

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Yes Sir; Diouf Can Boogie

“Senegal and Doncaster Rovers striker El Hadji Diouf lit up the National Sports Stadium yesterday when he performed the famous “Zorai Butter” dance after scoring for the Friends of Benjani…” begins this match report from Benjani Mwaruwari’s testimonial match. An impressive feat at any time for a goal celebration to take the headlines from a game, even more so when you consider the game ended 7-4, and to Diouf’s opponents, Zimbabwe Warriors.

In what must have been some spectacle Benjani Mwawurawi scored for both sides, and the former Portsmouth player’s 7 year-old son (yes, seven), also called Benjani, scored two for the Warriors in the final 13 minutes. But the stand-out facet of this game for me was a goal from my new favourite footballer; take a bow the brilliantly named Knowledge Musona.

Brief highlights are available here.

Saunders Confirms Retained List

Surprises aplenty as Rovers announce which of the squad will be retained and which released following relegation from the Championship. With funds tight, Rovers are in a position where they need to sell players currently contracted in order to be able to offer new deals to those whose contracts have come to their conclusion.

Arguably the most eye-opening name on the retained list is that of Habib Beye, the Senegal international who spent much of each week last season training with Marseilles rather than Rovers.

Huge disappointments on the released list too with crowd and fanzine favourite Mustapha Dumbuya on his way out, as well as home town hero Sam ‘der Kaiser’ Hird. Simon Gillett, who played more than any Rovers player last season also departs, as too does the long-serving James Hayter. Also shown the door are Saunders’ ‘future prospects’ Fabien Robert and Damien Plessis, whoever he may be.