Rising From The Ashes

During the mid to late 1990s, while the Premier League reaped the almost ridiculously ostentatious rewards of the Sky TV boom, supporters of many smaller clubs found themselves having to mobilise against a rash of asset stripping new club owners. Each protest brought its own stark images, be they the collecting tins outside Bootham Crescent as York City were run into the ground by Douglas Craig, the desperate pitch invasion at The Goldstone Ground after David Bellotti and Bill Archer sold Brighton’s stadium to developers and pocketed the money, or the black card protests at Selhurst Park after Wimbledon announced their move to Milton Keynes. Perhaps the most vivid and poignant images of the era, however, came from Doncaster Rovers’ Belle Vue. As the club tumbled out of the Football League in 1998, Doncaster’s supporters marched a coffin from the town centre to the stadium and, as The Last Post played, they performed the last rites for a club that seemed to be at death’s door itself. The key player in the collapse of Doncaster Rovers was businessman Ken Richardson. Richardson had previous – he had been at the centre of the “Flockton Grey” betting scandal of 1982, when an average racehorse running in a nondescript race at Leicester was swapped for what was, effectively, a “ringer”. Richardson and his trainer, Stephen Wiles, bet £20,000 on the fake horse,...

Read More