DONCASTER ROVERS: Keith keeps it in the family

Dedicated: Keith Medcalf with his season ticket and grandsons Dean Parker, left,  and Ryan Cook at the Keepmoat.            picture: STEVE TAYLOR
Dedicated: Keith Medcalf with his season ticket and grandsons Dean Parker, left, and Ryan Cook at the Keepmoat. picture: STEVE TAYLOR
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FOLLOWING Doncaster Rovers runs in the Medcalf family.

Dad Keith, daughter Andrea and two grandsons Ryan (17) and Dean (21) will celebrate 130 seasons of loyal support during the 2012-13 League One campaign.

“If you add my dad, Bob, who died 14 years ago, the total would be 197 years,” said Keith, who first cut his teeth at Belle Vue when he was just four.

“I’m like a stick of rock - if you cut me open I’d be red and white inside. So much so that even though I won the season ticket for life draw in 1986 I didn’t claim it for a number of years. I was working and had a decent job so I continued to pay to go in.

“Rovers were short of money at the time - Andrea and myself walked part of the Pennine Way to help raise cash, and the draw, which was open to anyone, was designed to help raise funds. I sold well over 350 £1 tickets and I also bought them from other people for myself.”

Keith’s unique claim to fame as being the only person to win a Rovers’ season ticket for life will shortly be a thing of the past.

As part of several initiatives to reward those people who have already bought them, and to encourage others to do so, chairman John Ryan will select a current season ticket holder to receive a free ticket for life in a special draw on June 13.

The lucky winner, who must have purchased their ticket before the June 8 deadline, will also have the cost of their outlay refunded.

“It is a great idea and would urge those people who can afford to do so to buy a season ticket before the deadline,” said Keith, who had trials for the club during his teen years.

Although Rovers’ hopes of further progress up the Football League suffered a setback when they were relegated at the end of last season, they are in a far better position than when they were the last time they were relegated.

Keith, aged 67, remembers it well: “I cried my eyes out sat in the main stand when we went down to the Conference in 1998,” he told The Star.

“I also remember Rovers having to apply for re-election when every club in the league had to vote to decide whether you stayed in.

“But since John Ryan took over it’s been magnificent what he’s done. He was in a position to do what I had always wanted to do, to buy the club.

“Had I been able to buy the club I would have put my heart and soul into it like he has done.”

Keith says the Ryan era will go down as one of, if not the most, successful periods in the club’s history.

“Obviously the two main highlights were the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final at the Millennium Stadium and and League One Promotion Play-off final at Wembley and I took all the family to both,” he said.

“The last four years in the Championship have been a bit special; we played some really good football - especially in the first two seasons.

“I’m not disappointed about going down; in fact I’m looking forward to next season and I think Dean (Saunders) deserves the chance to do his own thing because he didn’t get that chance last season because he inherited everybody.

“He also got the Willie Mckay system thrust upon him which didn’t work. I think it created some ill-feeling among the regular players and people didn’t perform as well as they could do at times.

“Hopefully we’ll get back to the Championship next season but no matter what happens I’ll still be there the season after even if we are in League Two.

“I’d watch the club at whatever level they were at.”