Unlucky 13 for Doncaster Rovers when it comes to facing local rivals Rotherham United

AS Yorkshire derby fixtures go, it is as close to being as one-sided as it gets.

Certainly whenever Doncaster Rovers make the short trip down the M18 to face near-neighbours Rotherham United at any rate.

Football’s coronavirus shutdown has ensured Rovers will not be visiting the AESSEAL New York Stadium today.

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If they were, Doncastrians would have arrived with a familiar sense of apprehension.

Rotherham United v Doncaster Rovers. Picture Tony Johnson

Few Rovers fans under the age of 45 will be able to recollect seeing their side triumph at the club widely viewed as their greatest foe.

On their last 13 visits to Rotherham – whether it be the NYS or the Millers’ former Millmoor home across the dual carriageway – Rovers have lost on 12 occasions and drawn just once, with not so much as a win to their name.

Doncaster have suffered several painful episodes along the way, more especially on the last occasion they visited for a league match when the hosts scored a dramatic winner from the penalty spot with the last kick of the game – in the 13th minute of stoppage-time.

For those Rovers followers with long memories, there was a bit more to savour on their last victorious appointment in the steelmaking town way back on March 23, 1985.

It was shortly after the conclusion of the Miners’ Strike that Rovers called into Millmoor for a Division Three fixture and it proved to be an epic afternoon which was as exhilarating as Doncaster’s subsequent visits have been excruciating.

In the reverse fixture in the autumn of 1984, Billy Bremner’s Rovers had lost 1-0 at home to the Millers – also managed by a Scot in George Kerr – in front of a bumper Belle Vue attendance of just over 10,000 in a game marred by crowd trouble.

Millers striker Tony Simmons scored the only goal of the game, but Rovers were to get their revenge in the Spring.

Three Scots all came to the party for Rovers with John Buckley, Ray Deans and Colin Douglas all netting in a pulsating 3-2 victory, with Mick Gooding replying with a brace. Buckley and Douglas would later play in the colours of Rotherham.

Victory was particularly sweet that afternoon for two of Rotherham’s most famous sporting sons with Thrybergh-born brothers Ian and Glynn Snodin being part of the Rovers line-up that day.

The pair had special reason to celebrate with gusto at the final whistle, with a number of their Millers-supporting friends being resident in the old Tivoli end.

It was one of the last joyous moments in a Rovers shirt for the talented siblings, who would join Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday that summer.

Since that day, those doing the celebrating have invariably been those in the red and white of Rotherham and not Doncaster.

Following that defeat, the Millers registered ten successive home victories over Rovers in all competitions – with their Indian sign over their derby rivals bearing comparison with Chesterfield’s hold over Rotherham throughout the Eighties and Nineties, which prompted Blues fans to regularly sing ‘You’ll never beat the Spireites’ to their neighbours.

The glut of Millers successes included a 3-0 win over crisis club Rovers – in freefall to the Conference – on this day in 1998 when the hosts scored three late goals in what many felt would be the last competitive game between the duo.

Rovers would return, but some things don’t change.

The hosts secured a last-gasp victory over Rovers on New Year’s Eve 2005 with Lee Williamson netting a 90th-minute winner.

A 0-0 draw at Millmoor broke the cycle for Rovers in the following September, but normal service was resumed at the Millers’ new home in February 2018 when the hosts incredibly scored twice in 13 minutes of added-on-time to win 2-1 after trailing 1-0 after 90 minutes.

So do not expect too many Rovers followers to be ruing the fact that there is no football on this particular afternoon.

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