Ian Appleyard: Doncaster's bearded wonders bringing back golden memories

THEY look like a set of players from the Seventies but full marks to Doncaster Rovers for raising money for the NSPCC charity.

With their beards and moustaches, Sean O'Driscoll's side caught the eye this weekend while recording another impressive win over Derby County

Shaving has been banned at the club until the end of the month and anyone who fails to toe the line will be required to pay a hefty fine.

The stunt evokes memories of those other footballers down the years who have led the way in facial hair.

Striker Alan Cork played for Sheffield United in an FA Cup semi-final sporting a beard that could have hidden empty cigarette packets. He feared it would be unlucky to shave as long as the Blades stayed in the competition.

Alas, it didn't stop his team losing to Sheffield Wednesday at Wembley.

Argentinian international Ricky Villa will always be remembered as much for his beard as for his stunning individual goal for Tottenham Hotspur against Manchester City in the FA Cup final replay nearly 20 years ago.

The legendary George Best often sported a beard during his playing days – although his passion for late nights was probably the main reason why he had no time to shave every morning.

Only a few months ago, David Beckham raised eyebrows by turning up for England duty resembling an extra from a costume drama.

His two-tone creation was arguably the most memorable aspect of England's international against Belarus but was soon dumped after complaints from his fans.

Other 'bearded wonders' who have left their mark on our beautiful game include the Brazilian Socrates, the ginger American Alexi Lalas, and, let us not forget him, Jimmy Hill.

Doncaster manager Sean O'Driscoll admits that he may find it a struggle to stick to the non-shaving policy at the Keepmoat Stadium, however.

"I'm thinking of dropping out but I know it will cost me a big fine," he said. "I have never 'not shaved' since I have been able to and I just want people to know that I'm not usually this scruffy looking."

I am actually surprised that O'Driscoll has approved the idea – which was conjured up by kind-hearted defender James Chambers.

As a manager who pays every attention to fine detail, I would have thought that playing with an itch on the face is not exactly beneficial to concentration on the field on a Saturday afternoon. Judging by Saturday's result, however, it does not seem to be a problem.

Personally, I have not opted for a beard since the late Nineties when goatees were all the rage.

However, once Ricky Gervais introduced the insufferable David Brent on TV's 'The Office', they were always going to be history. I wouldn't say I have ruled out the possibility of growing one again in the future.

Mind you, I have noticed that whiskers on the chin do tend to bring out more grey than the hairs on the top of my head – which is not the best idea if you are striving to stay young!

Some also say that men with beards are not to be trusted. That is poppycock as far as I am concerned.

It is those women with beards that you really must avoid.

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