Doncaster Rovers
The Keepmoat Stadium

Ground No. 144 (return visit)
Visited - Saturday 20th December 2008
Result - Doncaster Rovers 0-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Competition - Coca-Cola Championship
Attendance - 13,669

When I visited Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium last season, the mood around the club seemed far from happy, with some fans even calling for manager Sean O’Driscoll’s head following their 2-1 loss to Yeovil on a bitterly cold Sunday in December. Despite that, the board had kept faith in their Wolves fan manager, and he turned the season around, winning promotion to the Championship after a day out at Wembley, beating Leeds 1-0 to return to a level they hadn’t played at since 1958.

Despite not disliking the ground, a return there wasn’t exactly high on the agenda, but with Wolves flying high and some persuasion from a friend then we decided to make the trip up to South Yorkshire to see what on paper should have been an easy win with us sitting top and Donny bottom of the league.

Having decided to drive, we set off mid-morning, arriving into Doncaster just after 1pm, stopping off at Belle Vue to see the remains of the ground, before carrying on, up over the hills and coming out on the other side overlooking the ground.

Unsurprisingly, there had been no changes from last season, so after a quick walk round to the clubshop to get a badge, we soon went in, queuing up in the ridiculous system they have inside the ground for nearly 20 minutes just to get a pre-match pint. Even despite the queues not being too big, it took so long that it seemed like the staff must have been brewing the beer themselves with the length of time it took to get served!

With alcohol finally acquired, then it was onto the game, and despite the two clubs positions at opposite ends of the table, the view before the match was that no one was expecting as easy a game as it looked. Rover’s real problem wasn’t conceding goals (we’d actually let in as many as they had), but it was scoring them, the Keepmoat’s nets having bulged just four times this season in favour of the home side. When the game got started, it soon became evident that this match would follow a similar pattern.

Neither side were looking especially impressive in what was a scrappy game throughout. Wolves, missing a number of key players looked disjointed with no cohesion between midfield and attack, and but for a sequence of four shots which were denied twice by the woodwork and two goal-line clearances all straight after one another, there were few chances to be had. Doncaster’s only real effort came from Paul Heffernen who broke free in space, but fired his shot straight at Wayne Hennessey who tipped it onto the bar and out for a corner to keep the scores 0-0 at the break.

A halftime substitution of Iwelumo and Jarvis on for Keogh and Hill eventually made the difference, allowing us to get back to a much more direct style of play that has paid dividends this season, but with the home side’s spirit never saying die then still we couldn’t find any breakthrough, and were lucky to have 11 men on the pitch when Neill Collins made a ‘meaty’ last man challenge on Lewis Guy, taking the man as well as the ball. The hosts were further incensed by the referee when they were denied a penalty, Hennessey appearing to push Guy out of the way in a scramble to get the ball, but when you’re at the bottom the luck never goes for you and with just 9 minutes left it was Collins, a late inclusion in the side following Michael Mancienne’s pre-match withdrawal who rose highest to head home Kightly’s free kick from the left.

That sparked some great scenes in the away end, where over 3200 supporters had made the trip north, determined to enjoy themselves with an impromptu party (including the obligatory conga headed by a dozen or so santas!) which had the police lining the edge of the pitch thinking we were about to invade it before relaxing once the final 5 minutes of injury time had ticked by with little incident.

After leaving, we made our way back to the car, getting home in good time, glad to have made the trip. The ground, whilst not the most exciting in the world, still seems to have that little bit extra than most of the other new bowls, although in the year gone by since I was last here, I still haven’t been able to work out exactly what that is! Maybe it is the floodlights, or maybe just the height of the stands don’t make it such a blatant bowl as it might otherwise be, but all in all it isn’t a bad place, and certainly an improvement on Belle Vue in terms of facilities. One thing that was good to see was the significant increase in the crowd. Whilst Wolves bought over 20 times what Yeovil had, the home ends were much fuller as well, so whilst only time will tell whether it remains a Championship ground next season, hopefully the club can hang on to some of the new fans they’ve attracted and build from there.

Overall it was a good trip, the game was certainly exciting, if ultimately frustrating, perhaps more one for a neutral as opposed to a fan of either club. Despite my reservations about the outside of the ground, inside matched my memories of being perhaps the best new ground in the country. It's not the biggest, but it does have a touch of quality, and also character about it that many similar designed grounds don’t have, and the acoustics are excellent, which of course helps add to the experience of visiting a stadium, so its one I that will no doubt enjoy going back to for a third time.

Welcome to the Keepmoat Stadium

Rear of the East Stand

Rear of the North Stand

The East Stand

The South Stand

The West Stand

The Players Line Up

The West Stand

The South Stand

The East Stand

After Dark

The Keepmoat Stadium at night

The Keepmoat Stadium Panoramic 1

The Keepmoat Stadium Panoramic 2


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