FIGHT fan Tommy Rowe may miss out on his boxing fix this evening, but helping to deliver a knock-out blow for Doncaster Rovers in their title showdown tomorrow afternoon would more than make up for it.
In the rival corner to Rovers are second-placed Plymouth Argyle and even if no belt or silverware may be thrust in the hosts’ direction should they prevail, it would take an unlikely chain of events to prevent them from being crowned undisputed kings of League Two come early May.
Just as Rowe’s fellow Mancunian Anthony Crolla may have has own date with destiny in the ring in his quest to regain the WBA lightweight title in the Manchester Arena, the Rovers midfielder and his team-mates have their own pressing bout of seminal importance.
Dedication to his own cause will see the ultra-professional Rowe tucked away in bed while the fight action takes place, with tomorrow’s meeting with Argyle probably as big as it gets in League Two circles so far in 2016-17. It is very much the real deal.
As a player who thrives on pressure, you sense it is something right up Rowe’s street and a reminder of higher-profile times in the Championship with Peterborough and Wolves – and something he would dearly love to sample on a regular basis once again with Rovers.
Promotion this season would represent a first key step. For Rowe too, it would vindicate his decision to join the club last May, when the wounds of relegation to the basement were still sore for many connected with the club.
It did not faze Rowe, who rejected considerable interest from numerous League One sides in a move which many would have viewed to be a big gamble.
But the 27-year-old is clearly not averse to taking a risk or two. No risk, no reward, as the saying goes.
Rowe said: “I think it would have been a gamble anyway as you can never guarantee what happens. But the big thing for me in the summer was that as soon as I made my decision, I was never going to change my mind.
“I was going to give me all and go with it and thankfully, it has worked out and everyone has backed me and we have had a great team to do it with and the lads have been brilliant.
We have got that ruthlessness about us now and at home we have been ruthless and we look to continue that and put on a good performance and get the right result.Doncaster Rovers’ Tommy Rowe
“This is one of the best teams I have played in and it is a joy to be around most days and, for me, cements the reason why I came here.
“You have important people in your life and you trust them impeccably and if you decide that is the right decision, nothing else matters.
“So far, it is going well and, hopefully, we can keep kicking on and pushing on and each time we go up, it (the decision) will look even more impressive.”
The high-stakes nature of tomorrow’s game is there for all to see and not just in terms of the title race either.
There is the tantalising prospect of Rovers going a calendar year unbeaten in the league if they avoid defeat for a 23rd successive home game, with the hosts also seeking to settle a score after going down 2-0 in the reverse fixture at Home Park shortly before Christmas.
The game also sees a number of individual battles and sub-plots with Rowe and James Coppinger lining up against two more of the division’s equally creative talents in Graham Carey and Jake Jervis, while there is a juicy looking contest between John Marquis and one of League Two’s most feted defenders in former Hull stopper Sonny Bradley.
It all adds up to what looks to be a heady brew and Rowe for one, cannot wait.
On tomorrow’s game, Rowe, seeking to follow two promotions through the play-offs with Stockport and Posh by going up through the more conventional route, added: “We have had some big games this season, but the Sky games are always special and there’s a little bit more anticipation and excitement and you can feel it around the stadium.
“The lads are really excited to show what we can do.
“We have got that ruthlessness about us now and at home we have been ruthless and we look to continue that and put on a good performance and get the right result.
“Plymouth are a very, very good team and they beat us at their place and it was not a great performance from us. But seeing what we have done lately, we have got that ruthlessness back, which is so important at this level as you can control games and get nowhere.
“We are looking for another three points and massive performance.
“We have been striving for that all week.”