26th July 2008
A rare treat of visiting an uncharted League ground with Newcastle, although it’s not a competitive game, I’m not a snob when it comes to attending friendlies, as it’s usually my best chance to get a new venue watching the Toon.
The Keepmoat Stadium was built in 2006 at a cost of around £32M, the naming rights are owned by a local housing company, with the stadium built and owned by Doncaster Council. The move after 83 years from Belle Vue was completed with Rovers first fixture on New Years Day 2007, a 3-0 win over rivals Huddersfield Town, the ground is also used by the towns Rugby League club, with the mini-stadium situated next to the main stand used by the reserves and Doncaster Belles.
The Keepmoat with it’s hilly surroundings and nearby lake, has a capacity of 15,231, it’s a single tier enclosed arena, decked out in red seats with cream interior walls. The East Stand has an additional row of executive boxes, and to the west the TV gantry, press box and players tunnel. Behind each goal the seats have the word Doncaster underlined(council logo) picked out in white and black seats, with the floodlights appear to be peeping inside the stadium, from their lofty position in each corner.
Rovers celebrated their first full season in the Keepmoat with promotion to ‘The Championship’ beating Yorkshire rivals dirty Leeds in the play-off final, it’s hard to believe that Donny were playing Conference football as recently as the year 2000.
On a boiling hot day (I even wore me shorts) I heading down to South Yorkshire, with the Patrick’s(squad # 2 & 79) After a brief stop off in Armthorpe, we headed to the Stadium parking opposite the ground, beside the industrial estate for free. After quenching our thirst at the nearby Lakeside pub, we headed to the ground, looking forward to what promised to be an entertaining game, unfortunately that wasn’t the case, with basically a piss poor performance from United.
An uneventful first half, saw plenty of possession but little action in the final third, while Rovers played some neat stuff and created a few half chances without testing Harper. After being at work earlier in the day and being on the go since 4am, I had trouble staying awake, with nothing to get excited about, watching the game with one eye shut, maybe the sweltering conditions was a factor in such a poor opening period.
There was one redeeming factor about the first half however, the Newcastle debut of no.46 at centre half, nobody knew who he was, as there was a lack of any public address announcements, so he was known only by his number. This was a cue to sing all songs dedicated to various players, but the names changed to forty-six, like “ There‘s only one forty six“ and “He’s here, he’s there, he’s every f**king where, forty six, forty six” at half time I got a text message from my pal Zippy, letting me know it was Sebastien Bassong on trial from French club Metz.
The second half improved, there was a bit more urgency but still a lack of quality, we were never going to score with a toothless front two of Shola and Smith, Ameobi never had one effort on target, he didn’t look interested and his mind seems to be on when (or if) WBA are going to sign him. As for Alan Smith, he never had one effort at goal all afternoon, he never scored a competitive goal at all last season, a complete waste of time, although his new hair style looks nice, he’s grew it longer with a nice side parting amongst his goldilocks.
Donny’s main threat came after the introduction of Stuart Elliott for the second half, he had two good efforts on goal before the decisive moment three minutes from time, a long ball forward was mucked up by Enrique allowing Elliott to take advantage before hitting a well struck shot from 20 yards, wide to the keeper’s right. The win for Rovers could prove a good boost going into the new season, I hope they do well next season in a higher division, they’re a smashing little club, where even the stewards are friendly, especially the Jesus look-alike, who took the banter from the Toon Army with a smile, with the other stewards joining in on the joke.
United were sporting their new all purple away kit, which is similar in style to the fictionist Sky One club Harchester United. The board need to back Keegan in the transfer market, it’s obvious to everyone there’s an apparent lack of quality and depth within the squad, if he doesn’t get the financial support that’s required, then I’m afraid, there’ll certainly be no ‘Dream Team’ at SJP this season.
DRFC 1(Elliott 87) NUFC 0
admission £15(North Stand)
Rovers match report
Keepmoat Stadium website
My Matchday visit to Belle Vue