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Official Review by Lee Thurston, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Doncaster Rovers were formed in 1879 and turned professional in 1885. For much of their existence they played their football at Belle Vue, which in 1995, was at the centre of one of football's strangest stories when then chairman Ken Richardson hired a former SAS man to burn down the ground in an insurance scam that went horribly wrong. The resulting police enquiry saw the chairman jailed for four years.
The Rovers (as they are known to their fans) played their last game at Belle Vue in December 2006 before moving to the purpose-built Keepmoat Stadium, a 15,000 seater stadium which also hosts the games of Doncaster Rugby League Club.
Like many of the modern purpose built stadiums in England, the Keepmoat is comfortable and well equipped, but lacks soul.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food and beverage offering is totally standard in every aspect. Burgers, hot dogs, crisps, chocolate and flat beer served in plastic pints to be enjoyed underneath RSJ's and breezeblocks. There's plenty of fast food vans that park up on the nearby streets on match days which offer a bigger selection of food than can be found inside the ground but it's probably best if you eat before you head to the match.
Despite having a capacity of only 15,000, the Keepmoat is rarely full and attracts crowds of around 10,000 for most home games. But when you consider Doncaster have spent the majority of their playing history between the third and fourth tiers of the English football league system and have never appeared in the top flight, this is hardly surprising.
The home fans have a drummer that seems to attend every home game. Who on earth goes to a football match and wants to listen to someone whacking a large percussion instrument for 90 minutes? In spite of this tub-thumper, the Rovers fans make a decent attempt at producing noise.
The Keepmoat Stadium may sit next to a nice lake, but it's also next to an uninspiring retail park, 2 miles out of the city centre. The journey from the city to the ground is uninspiring to say the least. It's worth noting, especially if you're planning a night out in town after the game, that Doncaster was once dubbed the "HIV capital of the North". It's not totally horrific though. When in Doncaster you could visit Doncaster Dome which is one of the UK's top 5 Sports and Leisure attractions and offers many types of entertainment, including swimming, ice skating and rock climbing. Then of course, there's the Trolleybus Museum, home to the world's largest collection of preserved Trolleybuses. "What's a trolleybus" I hear you ask? Exactly.
There's not many of them and they may not make a lot of noise but they're a knowledgeable and passionate bunch. 800 or so of them regularly turn up for an annual pre-season friendly at a local non league site and they follow their team around the country in reasonable numbers. Also, apparently the famous UK magician and rabbit-botherer Paul Daniels has a soft spot for the Rovers. Not a lot of people know that.
Official car-parking at the stadium is limited so visitors may be better using the private car-parks or park on the roads nearby, of which there are plenty. The Train station is about 2 miles from the ground so a taxi or bus is probably the best bet if you're on foot. There is an airport close by (Robin Hood) but no-one's seriously going to fly to watch Doncaster Rovers, are they?
At £27 per adult ticket, a trip to the Keepmoat represents reasonable value to watch 2nd tier English football and whilst the atmosphere may not make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, you're almost guaranteed a pleasant and comfortable seat in which to watch football.
The usual offerings are present to enhance your experience at the Keepmoat, namely; a club shop selling Rovers merchandise and vendors selling matchday programmes. Recently the Keepmoat has staged concerts by popstars and has hosted semi-finals of the Rugby League Challenge Cup.
There is also a mini-stadium situated beside the Keepmoat. This features a six-lane running track and a small grandstand and the pitch is used by Doncaster Rovers Belles, Doncaster Rovers reserves, Doncaster Athletics Club, Doncaster Rugby League's academy team, and the Doncaster Mustangs American football team. This miniature Keepmoat has been picked as a potential training venue for athletes training in athletics for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
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