April 2023 marks 25 years since popular STAND fanzine was first foisted on unsuspecting Doncastrian punters who were trying to mind their business in The Park Hotel. And though the pub in which this ‘zine first appeared may be no more, there’s mercifully no sign of us being turned into an Italian restaurant… not yet.
Just as they were back in 1997-98 Rovers fans are currently enduring a pretty awful season, but it would be crass to try and join any kind of similarity between the two experiences. Two and a half decades ago we were witnessing the attempts of a club ‘benefactor’ – and soon to be convicted arsonist – to systematically dismantle the club in front of our very eyes. Players had been sold or just moved on, staff sacked, the ground left to crumble; relegation on the cards since August, crowds dwindling to three figures.
And it was into this blackened landscape that popular STAND first emerged, with Lee Clayton and Sean O’Keefe at the helm and a promise to remain 100% Tony Critchley free; a low bar we’ve managed to maintain to this day. So as we mark 25 years of definitely not being a programme and somehow always being £1, let’s revisit the opening words of our original editors, starting with Clayton.
Lee Clayton’s Editorial
Hello everybody and welcome to the third (and hopefully best) Donny fanzine ‘Popular Stand’. We don’t want to knock the other two fanzines on the market (in fact we support them wholeheartedly) but as Rovers fans we have become increasingly disillusioned with the events at our club, on and off the field, so we thought we’d write our own.
So Mark Weaver and Ken Richardson carry on destroying our beloved club. This season has gone from disastrous to disgraceful to farcical. No team, no management, no coaching, no commercial activity, crumbling ground, no programme (just a photocopied Weaverleaflet), no help from the daily local ‘paper’, hell we don’t even sell hot food!
Weaver has killed off any chance of us staying up by putting the final nails in the pre-planned relegation coffin. His treatment of Ian Clark, Dean Williams, Ian Gore, Jim Dobbin, Simon Ireland, Darren Utley and Dave Cowling, with Mike Smith soon to follow, have stamped out any embers fans may still have had.
Quite what Mr Richardson’s plan is we can only speculate but you can’t say it is for the good of the club. Fans heard at the meeting that took place at The Earl of Doncaster that Richardson could not sell the lease of the ground to Asda or anyone else for that matter because it was for ‘football purposes only’ (some people would argue that the team are already breaking this rule). So Ken, what do you intend to do with the club and why aren’t you breaking Anton Johnson’s hand off when he’s offered you a deal that is too good to be true?
Personally we don’t care who takes over as long as they’re nothing to do with Richardson, and that Weaver gets as far away from Belle Vue as possible. I suppose you have to admire the guy’s nerve though, the way he walks around in his tie and slacks with that irritating smirk on his face. I hope Mr Richardson is making it worthwhile for you Mark.
Another thing that the disaster has highlighted is the feeling that no-one can do anything about what’s going on. There is no proverbial safety net, the League and the FA seem to have turned a blind eye. What’s stopping a regime similar to the Richardson one infecting another club?
At the time of writing we’ve just beaten Hull, which really is putting off the inevitable. Hopefully Richardson and Weaver will sod off in the close season and we can start to build a proper soccer establishment.
We would now like to take the opportunity to show our appreciation to the people who’ve battled it out in Rovers corner this season:-
On the playing side Lee Warren and Adie Mike have showed what true professionals they really are. Imagine being given a team talk by an amateur like Weaver then going out with the junior team and a few shit ones to get hammered week in week out yet still keeping your head up and playing well. I think both players deserve some form of medal.
Then we have the supporters club, represented in the form of Ken Avis, Chas Walker, Paul Mayfield and Ken Wilkinson. Weaver has treated them like garbage. Look at all the press Newcastle got for a couple of directors saying a few choice remarks*. Weaver has been peeing on the supporters club from a big height for years yet what coverage has it got?
Next the fanzine editors Alan Caldwell and Phil Martin (Keegan Was Crap Really) and Kev Rogan (the revived Raise the Roof). The two fanzines started out as slightly bitter rivals but have come together for the mutual concern of DRFC.
And of course Save the Rovers whose main representatives Richard Haley and Ray Gilbert have battled in vain to put an end to this poisonous regime. Ray’s speech at the last meeting put a lump in the throat of many a hardened Rovers fan. Keep fighting lads.
Finally, YOU, the fan who still cares about the club enough to buy this fanzine. There’s one good thing when you are deep in the shite and that is (as Peter Cunnah once howled) ‘Things can only get better’.
Take care – Lee
Sean O’Keefe’s Editorial
Did anyone like myself watch the recent ‘events’ unfold off the pitch at Newcastle*? I’m far from the dimmest bloke in the world but I feel that someone else must have been using the family brain cell because I didn’t have a clue as to what the actual problem was! OK, two slightly pissed men made a few off the cuff comments that were regrettable, but the whole press together with that flatulent tub of lard that is Graham Kelly were up in arms.
Do these people live in the real world? What, you’re actually telling me that £40 replica shirts are sold for a profit? Well bugger me with a blunt market vegetable! I thought it was all done for charity! If the same measure of hype and media bullshit was used to describe our plight then we’d be on the front cover of USA Today. Not a word has been heard from Kelly in our general direction, instead in their world football starts and ends with the Premier League and all its glitzy TV friendly pay-per-view suck Murdoch’s cock media tidal wave.
I know that we’re only a very small club, but at least some acknowledgement of our situation would be great, eh Graham?
Even though we’re going down faster than the latest White House aide I’d like to believe that we’ll still be here next term. In what shape or form remains to be seen but the solidarity and comradeship that has come from the awful experience will stay with me for a long time to come. Money may buy decent players but it doesn’t buy the type of fans we are.
The Save the Rovers group are to stand in the forthcoming local elections. Use your votes wisely and stick one up those bastard politicians who have been conspicuous by their absence. The same goes for our local MPs Rosie WInterton and Kevin Hughes. Thanks for your support.
So this is it then. Non-league football here we come. Thanks Ken, you couldn’t have been crueller if you;d prefixed your evil decisions with the words fe fi fo fum.
*In March 1998 Newcastle United chairman Freddie Shepherd and deputy chairman Douglas Hall were caught on film by an undercover journalist; the footage showed the pair ridiculing Alan Shearer, boasting of ‘ripping off’ fans with shirt sales, and making derogatory remarks about the women of Newcastle. The story ran on the back, and front, pages of daily newspapers for several days until the pair resigned.