After suffering relegation from league one last season it was important for Doncaster Rovers to bounce straight back – and bounce straight back they did!
Last season it was hard writing the season review, because there wasn’t a lot of highlights, and there wasn’t really anyone deserving of praise. However, this time round it’s difficult, because there’s too many good times/players to pick out for certain credits; but it’s a good tough decision.
Starting off with the signing of the year. Again, another hard decision. The four main signings which come mind are: Tommy Rowe, John Marquis, Mathieu Baudry and Matty Blair. All four pivotal players who have contributed absolutely everything to the team that they possibly could. I chose, John Marquis as my signing of the summer, simply for his 26 goals scored this season and then the fact he’s achieved career breaking statistics, such as getting his first ever career hat-trick against Grimsby Town in April 2017, and purely because of his work ethic in the team and his leadership, as well as passion he has shown, all at the age of 24. It wasn’t just personal accolades he was collecting. He also became the first Doncaster Rovers striker to get more than 20 goals in a season since Peter Kitchen was playing for Rovers, over 40 years ago! In addition, he also made it into Sky Bet League Two and PFA’s League Two team of the year. All I can say is well done to Darren Ferguson on pulling off – what turned out to be – the best signing of the summer!
Next up, performance of the season. As I write this only one game comes to mind. Morecambe away. What a surreal experience that was. Not only was it remarkable for the fact it was James Coppinger’s 500th appearance for the club, but it was also one of the best results/performances I had seen by Rovers in along time, with them ‘thrashing’ Morecambe by 5 goals to 1; the scenes at the end with Coppinger being paraded in the air by the likes of: Andy Williams, John Marquis and Matty Blair, also brought a tear to my eye to add to the occasion.
Now onto my favorite… young player of the season. Can you guess who it is? Yes, it is! Liam Mandeville. He has had a fantastic season, that was unfortunately cut short by injury. The 19-year-old first made his stamp on the team when he came on as a substitute against Exeter City, on the 69th minute to score the equalizer just 8 minuets later, then to set-up the final two goals scored by John Marquis, which helped Rovers come from 1-0 down to win 1-3. That was only just the start, however. After becoming involved in the team around November 2016, until early January 2017 (when he picked up his injury), Liam managed to score 10 goals for Rovers in all competitions, while picking up ample amount of awards along the way! Safe to say, this was an easy choice.
Player of the season is up next, and this is the hardest one of the entire categories to chose, because all players this season have gone above and beyond the call of duty for the team. Players that come to mind for this are the likes of: Jordan Houghton, Matty Blair, Mathieu Baudry, John Marquis, Andy Butler and Tommy Rowe, however I think there’s only one player who’s name is written all over this. James Coppinger. Yes, Coppinger had a record-breaking season for the Vikings, with him not only making his 500th appearance for the club during this season, but also breaking his amount of goals scored during a season too. Believe it or not, he’s never actually won the player of the season award by the club since he joined in 2004. Well that was until this season at least, because he ended up being joint winner with John Marquis.
Team of the season:
GOALKEEPER: Marko Marosi – Marosi has been one of the surprise packages of the League Two campaign with a lot of people expecting him to sit on the bench with Ross Etheridge expected to be the number one goalkeeper, however things didn’t work out for Etheridge and up stepped Marosi – until his unfortunate injury.
RIGHT BACK: Craig Alcock – After recovering from a pre-season injury, Alcock came back into the side to make the right back position his own.
CENTRE BACK: Mathieu Baudry – Another defender who had to recover from a pre-season injury, but when he arrived back he really helped tighten up the defense for Rovers.
CENTRE BACK: Andy Butler – You can’t have one without the other. Butler and Baudry have formed a remarkable partnership this season and Rovers played their better games with these two sitting at the back.
LEFT BACK: Niall Mason – The versatile player – who prefers to play in midfield – has spent most of his season at left back even though he has never played in that position before. He made that his own position towards the end of the season even keeping out Cedric Evina, Tyler Garratt and Aaron Taylor-Sinclair (who are all qualified left backs).
CENTRAL DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER: Jordan Houghton – Houghton quickly became a fans favourite at the Keepmoat, signing on the opening the day of the season, the 21-year-old played in every single league game for Rovers until his injury.
RIGHT MIDFIELDER: Matty Blair – Rotating between right back and right winger all season, Matty Blair has played in every single one of Rovers league games barring one, which he missed out through suspension.
LEFT MIDFIELDER: Tommy Rowe – The midfield dynamo has adapted nicely to his new role on the left of a diamond, having rarely played that position before you wouldn’t of guessed it, because the former Wolves man scored 13 league goals this season – the second best in the team!
CENTRAL ATTACKING MIDFIELDER: James Coppinger – Entering his 13th season at the club, Coppinger managed to make this is best goalscoring season earning 10 goals this season all while making his 500th club appearance.
STRIKER: Liam Mandeville – As talked about earlier, the 19-year-old had a fantastic goalscoring run before coming to an abrupt end in new year following injury.
STRIKER: John Marquis – A no-brainer, as he’s scored a remarkable 26 goals for Rovers this season, while always working hard off the ball too for his team mates.
WATCH: Morecambe v Doncaster highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75BrmFSkr40
WATCH: John Marquis, goal of the season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBZBPL1uwUs