Doncaster Rovers v AFC Wimbledon: Londoner enjoying a second Cumming up north

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THE NOTION of again potentially being a lucky charm in the League One promotion stakes is not lost upon new Doncaster Rovers recruit Shaun Cummings.

The 29-year-old has successful ‘previous’ on that count, having played his part – albeit not as extended as he would have liked – in helping Rovers’ arch-rivals Rotherham United make an instant return to the Championship via the play-offs last term.

The previous campaign was also rewarding for the Londoner after playing his part in Millwall reaching the second-tier – with the Lions beating Bradford City in the League One play-off showpiece at Wembley in May 2017.

Now, the right-back joins a Rovers side who have proved surprise packages in the opening third of the campaign and displayed enough potential to suggest that a sustained top-six tilt is within their remit this season – even accounting for their recent dip in form.

Should Rovers, who are in close proximity of the top six, achieve that – and even go onto return to the Championship – then there is fair chance that Cummings might just have done enough to earn an extended deal at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Cummings, who has signed an initial two-month deal, said: “I am very strong-minded. It is all about experience and I have had enough with the number of times I’ve been promoted.

Times change: Shaun Cummings helped Rotherham win promotion to the Championship last season and hopes to replicate that under Grant McCann (Picture: Tony Johnson)

Times change: Shaun Cummings helped Rotherham win promotion to the Championship last season and hopes to replicate that under Grant McCann (Picture: Tony Johnson)

“Some players do not get promoted in their careers and I am lucky to get three so far.

“Hopefully, I can build on that and use my experience here and hopefully get the job done and get Doncaster up.

“It is what I am here for.

“Coming up to the December period, we are only three points off the play-offs and hopefully from now to the end of the season, the team can kick on and we can get as many points as we can to be in and around there at the end of the season.”

I just wanted to get back in the game at a decent club who are doing well at the moment. I feel like I can contribute to that and get some games in between now and the end of my contract.

Shaun Cummings

Cummings’ experience in the game has weathered him from a deep sense of frustration during his time without a club.

The Hammersmith-born player has been around the block long enough to realise the merits of playing the long game – and after keeping himself fit since the summer and biding his time, his opportunity has now arrived just up the road from his previous place of employment in Rotherham.

On his route to Doncaster, Cummings – who made his Rovers bow from the bench in Wednesday night’s Checkatrade Trophy loss at Notts County – said: “I was doing a bit of training on my own and out of contract and literally just got a call from my agent saying they wanted me down for a few days and it was a case of we seeing what happens and going from there.

“I just wanted to get back in the game at a decent club who are doing well at the moment. I feel like I can contribute to that and get some games in between now and the end of my contract and go from there and see what happens.

Doncaster Roversmanager Grant McCann (Picture: Marie Caley)

Doncaster Roversmanager Grant McCann (Picture: Marie Caley)

“We have just got to focus on now.

“At the moment, I am signed for two months and I will try and get the games and help the team to be where it should be.”

On his mechanism of coping with being among the legions of players scrambling to find a club, the philosophical defender continued: “It is just reality, really.

“Some people maybe take it for granted in a sense and there are difficult moments in your career and this is one of the most difficult times that I have had.

“But I believe everything happens for a reason and I am here for a reason and I am here to do a job and we will go from there.

“I have been in football long enough to know what I need to do to maintain at least a decent level of fitness before I came here.

“I was always positive that when the time was right, something would happen.

“I just had to keep my head on and focus.

“I am blessed that the gaffer (Grant McCann) has taken me on for a few months and hopefully I can repay him and the club by putting in good performances.

“He is probably one of the reasons I came here.

“If it was not right for me, from a selfish point of view – no matter what situation I am in – then I would not be here.

“But I had a conversation with him and he knows where he wants to be and I do. He feels I can help the club with my contribution in terms of where it needs to be with my backing.

“There were a couple of (previous clubs), but it had to be right for me at the time.

“That is probably why it has taken so long.

“It was just waiting for the right opportunity to arise before making the commitment.”

Cummings now joins the lengthy list of players who have featured for both Rovers and the Millers, a list that includes the likes of Colin Douglas, John Breckin and Shaun Goodwin.

Cummings sampled the rivalry last season, albeit from a watching brief as an unused substitute in the Millers’ dramatic derby win at the AESSEAL New York Stadium in late February – courtesy of two goals in an epic stint of stoppage time which left Rovers devastated.

He was not involved in the match-day squad for the reverse fixture at the Keepmoat almost a year ago, but a similarly tumultuous late finale again underlined the sense of ferocity in this particular derby – with little love lost between both sides despite limited meetings over recent years.

But now Cummings’ affinities are firmly locked to the red and white of Rovers.

He added: “They were very competitive and tough games last year and it would have been nice to play in them, as players thrive off a local derby game. But we knew the rivalry at Rotherham and were always made aware of its importance. But times have changed and I am here now.”