Doncaster Rovers will return: John Ryan

Four great years: 'I've loved being in the Championship,' says John Ryan.                  PICTURE: steve taylor

Four great years: 'I've loved being in the Championship,' says John Ryan. PICTURE: steve taylor

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DONCASTER Rovers’ chairman John Ryan delivered an upbeat message at the club’s end-of-season presentation evening at The Dome.

Speaking just hours after seeing the club go down 3-2 at home to Ipswich Town in their final game of the season, he pledged: “We’ll soon be back (in the Championship).

“We had five years in the Conference and then we won on that glorious day (Promotion Play-off final) in Stoke, then one year in League Two where we won the league that year and a lot of people made a lot of money on odds of 33-1.

“Then we had four years in League One, during which time we won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. We are back in that again (next season) so we can win that again, and we’ve just had four years in the Championship.

“Four great years; I’ve loved being in the Championship and I certainly want us to get back there pretty quickly.

“The last time (we were relegated) it took us 50 years to get back and it’s got to be a lot quicker than that for me anyway, so we’ll be looking to bounce straight back.

“Dean (Saunders) is very enthusiastic, as is his staff. We are going to build a squad with the current players we’ve got to challenge to get straight back into the Championship.

“Peterborough did it last year and we are a lot better team than them and there is no reason why we shouldn’t do it at the first time of asking. ”

He added: “In the Championship we have been regarded as a small club - never in my mind - but generally speaking.

“But the nice thing about League One is that we’ll be regarded as one of the bigger clubs and hopefully we’ll be able to get seven or eight thousand at the Keepmoat Stadium next season.

“We are a team which has achieved success; we’ve had a bad season but sometimes you have to take a step back to then take two steps forward.

“I fervently believe that next season will be a great season for Doncaster Rovers and we’ll be pushing for a place at the top of League One.”

The Rovers’ chief also congratulated ex-striker Billy Sharp on winning promotion to the top flight with Southampton, who he joined from Rovers in January, earlier in the day.

He also praised Doncaster’s elected mayor, Peter Davies, who he said had been ‘most helpful’ in negotiations between Doncaster Council and the club over plans to sell Rovers the stadium during the summer.

Skipper George Friend, who received the Supporters’ Club Player of the Season award before the Ipswich game, pipped other nominations, Kyle Bennett, Sam Hird, El Hadji Diouf, Tommy Spurr and Simon Gillett, to pick up the One Call Insurance Player of the Season award.

Brian Stock’s match-winner in the 2-1 win at Peterborough in September, won him the club’s Goal of the Season award. Bennett, who had two goals in the final four, and Gillett were also nominated.

Defender James Husband lifted the Young Players’ Player of the Season award.

The entire youth team, who play Exeter City in the Football League Alliance Cup final at St James’ Park tomorrow night, shared the Youth team Player of the Year award.