Football: Snodin plans for Belle epoch

Doncaster Rovers 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

DONCASTER MAY not reach the third round of the FA Cup but hearing their name in the draw was enough to fill Ian Snodin with pride. The last time they made it, in the 1984-85 season, he was the 21-year-old star of a memorable victory over Queen's Park Rangers, who at the time represented quite a scalp.

But there is more to it than that. Last March, playing at Scarborough but living in Doncaster, Snodin stood on the terraces among a paltry crowd of 739 spectators watching Rovers lose 2-0 to Barnet, their demotion to the Conference by then inevitable. It was a grim night, punctuated by the latest in a long-running series of demonstrations against the then chairman, Ken Richardson. "It broke my heart," Snodin said. "I've been a Rovers fan since I was a lad and like everyone else I thought the club was dying."

At 5,396, Saturday's attendance was the largest at Belle Vue for four years. "It just shows what is possible," Snodin said. "This is a football town and a successful team will bring the crowds back. When we beat Queen's Park Rangers in 1984 we took 10,000 to Everton in the next round. That's the level of support we could have again."

Snodin became player-manager in August - with brother Glynn as No 2 - as the Richardson era ended and control passed to John Ryan, a Cheshire businessman but a Doncaster boy whose affection for Rovers has not dimmed. Ryan remembers the Belle Vue owl, a bird which, according to local legend, resided in the roof of a stand long since pulled down and flew around the ground, illuminated by the floodlights, whenever Rovers scored. On Saturday, Ryan brought along a pottery owl, hoping to somehow recreate the magic. "It didn't bring us a win but we didn't lose," Ryan said. "I'll take it to the replay and see if it does the trick there."

Approval for Ryan and for Snodin has already pushed Doncaster's Conference crowds up to 3,200, double last season's average. And this is despite a record of 11 defeats in 18 matches that has seen their team entrenched at the bottom of the table. Snodin has recruited such luminaries as Steve Nicol, who won virtually every honour available with Liverpool, and the well-travelled Tommy Wright to complement his own experience, but as yet they have not got to grips with their new environment.

"We keep playing well and I keep saying `maybe this will be the result that turns the corner', but the table doesn't lie," Snodin said. "If anything, the standard in the Conference is higher than in the Third Division. You only have to look at how Macclesfield came out of the Conference and went straight through to promotion, and how Halifax are doing this season."

Encouragingly for him, his conviction that the corner will be turned is shared by Brian Talbot, the manager of Rushden & Diamonds, who have become a major Conference force thanks to the investment from the Dr Marten's shoes empire of Max Griggs. "They're a good side," Talbot said. "They won't have any problems."

Presumably, Talbot was excluding the replay at Nene Park tomorrow week from that assessment. Despite the absence of Adrian Foster and Darren Collins, Rushden's two leading goalscorers, Rovers failed to make home advantage count. They enjoyed plenty of possession but created few clear chances, a bobbling long-range effort from the full-back Simon Shaw taking them closest to a goal.

By contrast, Rushden forced Andy Woods into several good saves, notably twice to deny Ray Warburton in the first half, when Nicol headed off the line from Michael Mison. Nicol was magnificent at the back for Rovers, but with their full strike power restored Rushden will be favourites to go through.

Doncaster Rovers (4-4-2): Woods; Warren, Nicol, Sutherland, Shaw; Goodwin, Penney, I Snodin (Beckett, 80), Wright; Duerden (Hume, 72), Kirkwood. Substitutes not used: Maamria, George, Jones (gk).

Rushden & Diamonds (4-4-2) Gayle; Wooding, Bradshaw, Warburton, Underwood; McElhatton, Mison, Butterworth, Archer; West, Heggs. Substitutes not used: Foster, Hanlon, Hamsher, Brady, Rodwell.

Referee: S Mathieson (Stockport).

Bookings: Doncaster Snodin, Sutherland; Rushden West, Underwood, McElhatton.

Man of the match: Nicol.

Attendance: 5,396.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Portfolio Administrator

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has become known a...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical and Electrical Engineer - Midlands

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrig...

Recruitment Genius: Sales / Account Manager

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales / Account Manager is re...

Ashdown Group: Application Developer - C#.Net, ASP.Net - Cambridgeshire

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Software Application Developer (C# & ASP.Net, SQL S...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot