Remembering the first time: Doncaster Rovers vs Yeovil Town, February 1999

Front cover of the matchday programme for Doncaster Rovers v Yeovil Town in February 1999

It’s a funny first memory watching the mighty Doncaster Rovers. We were hosting Yeovil Town and if memory serves right it wasn’t our finest 90 minutes of football. However, it was my first match, and I had been itching to get down to Belle Vue.

I was with my grandad, Stephen Ross, a man now immortalised on the memorial wall of the Keepmoat Stadium. I remember feeling the excitement and energy of the crowd outside. Pies, programmes and pints; I grab two out of the three – I’m eight – and fly through the turnstile to get a look at what lay on the other side.

I’m pitchside and it’s electric. I could see my mates from school at the back so I stopped for a quick chat and chant, to show face and let them know I too was now part of the regiment. ‘Sorry lads, I can’t stop, I’m down at the front with my grandad’.

A programme in one hand and a pie in the other. Buzzing. The referee blows the whistle to start the game and the collective roar that comes from the whole ground makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Not sure why, but I join in with a ‘Come on Rovers!’ It feels right.

The game itself isn’t one for the archives as we go a goal down early on and it doesn’t look like changing. Our manager at the time is Ian Snodin. It’s getting late into the match and Ian isn’t exactly holding back in letting the players know exactly what he thinks of the performance. In doing so there are a few bursts of, let’s say, ‘choice language’, that escape him and slip into his tactical touchline feedback.

My grandad, not happy with the language, leans over to tell Snodin to mind his Ps and Qs, but whilst doing so lets a swear word slip himself. “Do you mind Ian, my ******* grandson is here, so watch the language.”

At that what feels like a bigger roar than what I experienced at kick-off grows around us, this time with some of the substitutes joining in on the gag. Ian sees the funny side, has a chuckle and waves at me and my grandad. Gramps looks down and gives me a wink, and we both share a chuckle. Magic.

It didn’t make it into the match highlights, but has remained a very fond memory of both my grandad and my first ever Rovers game.

by Lewis Reeves

This article first appeared in issue 84 of popular STAND fanzine

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