Doncaster RoversLeeds travel to Doncaster on Friday for our second evening game this week.

Thanks to Stuart Chadwick for taking part.

Ryan – It’s another tasty Yorkshire derby & its been a while since we last met. Are you looking forward to the mighty whites coming to The Keepmoat?

Stuart – Local derbies are always great… Leeds mean nothing more to me than other local teams but a good local derby is enjoyable so yes, I am looking forward to it. Too often the away end is sparsely populated and it makes getting an atmosphere quite hard. At least when local teams like Leeds come to visit the crowd is up for it. This usually means the players get a different feeling and makes for a better game all round. As you say, it’s been a while since we last met, with you struggling to get out of the lower leagues and join us big boys 😉  You might need to re-earn that “Mighty Whites” label – sorry, but it can come over as a bit big-headed given your last few years and I guess that’s what gets people a bit more antagonistic towards Leeds. I hasten to add, I’m not a Leeds-hater.

Ryan – It’s in front of the Sky cameras as well, do you think this will have much of an impact on the game? How do Doncaster usually cope in the limelight?

Stuart – Our track record in front of the cameras has generally been very good, though the last couple have been less-good and our recent league appearances have not seen much success. However, prior to this, some notable camera appearances worth mentioning… we played a team from over in West Yorkshire at Wembley a couple of years ago and did alright – you might remember it. The year before, we won the Johnstone Paints Trophy at the Millennium Stadium. And we also beat Man City, Aston Villa and only lost to Arsenal on penalties a few seasons back. We’ve also won plenty of league games on TV, including some in our Conference days. Sadly, we don’t get on TV much these days because, as we readily accept, we’re not a glamour club… successful, but not glamour. Even though we’re established in the Championship and play some lovely football, Sky would rather show lesser quality teams week in, week out – ironically, they pick the clubs with the big fan bases to guarantee viewing figures when it’s probably the clubs like ours with the smaller fan bases that need the money and publicity more.

That said, I don’t think the cameras will influence the game much. The players are professional and there are too many other factors on the game for that… like 3 points!

Ryan – Last season you finished a respectable 12th in only your 2nd season in The Championship. Where do you realistically expect to finish this year? Is the squad capable of maintaining its current place in the play-offs?

Stuart – Yeah, not bad, up from 14th the year before and both season predicted to be relegated. I remember a few of the Leeds fans saying we’d be straight back down and you’d be coming up to replace us… I must remember not to ask them for the lottery numbers this weekend 😉

Realistically this year, I’d be happy with top 10 and would ‘expect’ that. If we are lucky with injuries, we could do the play offs – Blackpool did it and I think that gives us hope. We’re not a big club and we don’t kid ourselves, but we’re heading in the right direction, doing things the right way and building carefully. If we went up, I can guarantee we’ll come straight down without spending much but the financial benefit would be massive for our club.

Ex Leeds 'keeper Sullivan is now performing well for Doncaster

Ryan – We all know about your ‘keeper Neil Sullivan & Martin Woods made one appearance for us, but who should we be looking out for in your squad? What are your first impressions of new signing Billy Sharp?

Stuart – Billy has not really got going yet in scoring terms (from open play) but he’s working hard for the team, has lots of fight and could score any time. Oster and Coppinger can unlock any defence and our whole midfield is adept at a lovely slick passing game. Brian Stock, our skipper, has been off his game so far this season but if he hits form, he is superb to watch, so cultured. This season so far, our central defence has been questionable though Sullivan has been immense. One save in our opening day win at Preston saw him roll back about 10 years in the way he got down to it. Not bad for a player ditched by Mr (Un)Wise for being too old. With changes to defence for the Norwich game, we won 3-1 and looked a lot better. You’re also likely to recognise Sam Hird in our ranks, though he may be on the bench.

You’ll probably be pleased to know that James Hayter is injured and won’t be playing against you… that could save a few more tears!

Ryan – Out of all of the Yorkshire teams in The Championship, who do you think will finish highest?

Stuart – Rovers. But I expect Leeds to do well. I can’t see Sheff Utd or Hull doing much as they’re skint and, shall we be kind, ‘in transition’. I expect Barnsley will be lower half despite where they are now. I’m surprised at Middlesbrough – I assume we include them in ‘Yorkshire’ – I thought they would be up there and, at the start of the season, I might have expected them to have finished higher than us, perhaps promo… I guess this makes me question my predictions above and is why I don’t do score predictions!

Ryan – Leeds fans will travel in numbers as always on Friday night. Do Doncaster fans feel much of a rivalry with Leeds? Are Leeds a team that you look to beat?

Stuart – We look to beat all teams so yes, Leeds are a team we look to beat. Sure, there will be added spice because it’s a fellow Yorkshire team but we don’t put Leeds on any sort of pedestal and we hope to beat them just like any other team. Are Leeds our rivals? Tough one that, and the answer varies from fan to fan. Now you’re in the same division, I see you as one of our rivals but when you weren’t in the same division, I didn’t really have any feelings either way. Our close neighbours Scunny probably mean more to me as ‘rivals’ in the normal meaning because I did some of my schooling there so have loads of Scunny fans as mates – that creates rivalry for me with them, and they’re only 20 miles away so very close.

Where does the Leeds thing come from for some of our fans? Let’s be honest…The thing is, up until about 10 years ago (and I’ve supported them for 35 years now, including many games over 5 years in the Conference so I can say this) Rovers were awful!! As a result we’ve lost loads of our local fan base to Sheffield, Leeds etc. This always adds a bit extra to these games as these ‘glory hunters’ (no offence intended, it’s understandable over the last 30 years that they chose to go) get some extra ‘stick’ from the Rovers fans as, over the last 2 years, we’ve enjoyed being in a higher division. I guess I would just ask the less thought-capable fans in both camps to try to see it as what it is and should always be, i.e. a bit of banter. Leeds fans should take it as a compliment that we’ve enjoyed for the first time ever being above and more successful than Leeds. Rovers fans should accept Leeds as a big club who seem to be heading in the right direction.

Ryan – What have you made of Leeds’ start to the season? Where do you realistically expect us to finish?

Stuart – I’d expect you to finish above mid-table but you need to stick by your manager a bit. You got tonked by Barnsley this week but we got tonked by Cardiff a few weeks ago. It’s a close and strange division and we can all end up losing heavily one week and winning easily the next with no logic to the results. I just hope you bounce back AFTER Friday and this week sees you having a continuance of a ‘bad run’ – hope you don’t mind me saying that.

Neil Kilkenny was a Doncaster target not long ago

Ryan – If you could sign one current Leeds player for Donny, who would it be?

Stuart – It’s no secret we wanted Kilkenny a few seasons back but I guess I’d look for Becchio or McCormack.

Ryan – Finally, what’s your prediction for the game? We’ve had a bit of a reality check this week but I think we’ll come back stronger & take something from this game. Im going for a 1-1 draw.

Stuart – I never predict game scores – as I said above! I think it will be close so your draw prediction is fair. It could well be a typical derby game so I hope the referee doesn’t become some card-happy-chappy and kill the game – either team down to 10 men could spoil it. Clearly I hope we win but I genuinely wish you well for the rest of the season.

Thanks to Stuart for taking part and good luck to Doncaster for the rest of the season.