How Doncaster Rovers helped John Marquis discover life is ‘grin up north’

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Top goalscorer John Marquis has been attracting the interest of other clubs but he tells Leon Wobschall why he would be happy to stay with Doncaster.

HIS accent may be unmistakably South London, but John Marquis is the first to admit that laying down some roots in Yorkshire has been the making of him – both on and off the pitch.

Dynamic duo: Doncaster manager Darren Ferguson celebrates promotion with top scorer John Marquis, right. (Picture: Jon Buckle/PA)

Dynamic duo: Doncaster manager Darren Ferguson celebrates promotion with top scorer John Marquis, right. (Picture: Jon Buckle/PA)

The Doncaster Rovers striker did briefly return to the capital on Sunday for a glittering EFL awards ceremony at the Hilton Park Lane – and left in tow with a League Two Player of the Year accolade to serve as a lasting memento of a 2016-17 season which he would be forgiven for wanting to last forever.

Promotion with Rovers – and quite possibly a title winners’ medal in the not-too-distant future – and with a proud haul of 26 league goals to his name too, life has been undeniably sweet for Marquis in his first venture ‘up north’ and he is now keen to commit his longer-term future to Rovers – and stick around at the Keepmoat Stadium for a good while yet.

After being farmed out on loan to seven clubs while at boyhood club Millwall, Marquis has finally found a true footballing home.

The notion that a happy player makes for a successful one is never better illustrated than in the case of the Londoner, a more rounded player on the pitch and well balanced individual off it these days, too.

My tactical knowledge of the game has improved as has my technique. It has been incredible how I have improved personally.

John Marquis

Twenty-five next month, Marquis, who recently became the first Rovers player to score twenty Football League goals in a single season since Peter Kitchen back in 1976-77, said: “I have a contract for at least next season here and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here so far.

“As far as I am concerned, I have a year left on my contract and hopefully if I can well enough in the next few games, they might want to sit down and sort a new one out, which would be nice.

“There is no reason I would be wanting to go anywhere else. My football has come on so much and I cannot speak highly enough of the manager and staff.

“I would probably go as far as to say that I have learned more in one year of football since Kenny Jackett left Millwall, which was maybe four years ago.

“My tactical knowledge of the game has improved as has my technique. It has been incredible how I have improved personally.”

Enhancement too in terms of an enriching life experience for Marquis, whose decision to opt for Rovers, despite considerable interest elsewhere, has been vindicated to the full.

He added:“It was about finding the right team, manager and place to settle. Coming here was a massive new chapter. Not just on the pitch, but in life in general.

“I would be the first one to say I am a bit of a ‘mummy’s boy’ and a very homely boy. But I have moved a long way from home and I have come up with my girlfriend and we have started a new chapter of our lives here and it was something I have needed, on and off the pitch.”

The professional input of Ferguson in untapping the full potential of Marquis has clearly had plenty to do with his sense of well-being in the work place.

The meticulous, training-ground work put in by the Rovers manager – allied to some canny man-management – is something that Ferguson senior would surely applaud, with Marquis being a willing student.

On being wholly energized by his time working with Ferguson and hinting at some indifferent experiences with other managers in the past, he said: “Putting in hours on the training pitch with a manager who wants to keep training players is a breath of fresh air for me and a lot of other players and I have just embraced the whole situation.

“He (Ferguson) is a brilliant manager and I think we are very lucky to have him.”