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View from the South Stand - Doncaster Rovers 06/08/11

Brighton and Hove Albion kick-off the 2011/12 Championship season with their first competitive fixture at the American Express Community Stadium where they take on old friends Doncaster Rovers.

We pestered Glen Wilson from Viva Rovers! to answer some questions for us.

Who will be Doncaster's key men this season for us to look out for?
It depends on who stays fit long enough really, Billy Sharp is obviously a proven and consistant goal threat, and he benefits from the creativity of Jamie Coppinger and John Oster behind him. Oster's form wasn't the best last season, but he still set up a fair share of Sharp's goals. Also keep an eye out for Ryan Mason, on loan from Spurs for the season, he is a really talented player and could really develop over the months ahead.

What are your hopes and expectations for the season?
The hope is to stay in the Championship, and the expectation is to just about do that. The division looks the strongest its been since we came into the second tier in 2008, so despite murmurs of being dark horses, staying up will always remain the first objective.

Sean O'Driscoll has received several approaches from other clubs. What do you think of him and why do you think he has remained loyal to Donny when most managers these days jump at the chance to go to a so-called bigger side?
I think he's phenomenal, and a welcome antidote to the managers in the game who are touted as being 'characters', which is of course a football byword for wankers. He has his footballing principles and he sticks by them, and they've brought forth the best football I've ever seen Rovers play, so I can't speak highly enough of him. Loyalty is obviously something O'Driscoll values, his entire professional football career as player and manager has been spent at just three clubs. At Rovers he was given time to implement his methods and his style, and it took the best part of fifteen months to click, its hard to see any other side or its supporters being that patient. He also has a distinct distain for the media circus and hyperbole which surrounds football, at Rovers he's just enough below the radar for it to be far removed from his day job.

How much do you know about the Albion?
The... The Albion? Albion? ...Albion, Albion, Albion? No, sorry, doesn't ring any bells.

Brighton fans have a lot of respect for Doncaster fans after the last game at the Goldstone as well as our respective troubles with chairman. What do Donny fans make of us?
There is a mutual respect, and it is forged from that period. That said, up until the final whistle most Rovers fans' experiences of that last game at the Goldstone were far from pleasant and many I know say that it remains the most worried for their own safety they have ever been at a game. Thankfully the mood changed at the final whistle, and it became the love-in that's acknowledged now of two sets of supporters empathising with each others' perilous plight. Brighton fans were instrumental in the efforts of the Save the Rovers Group the following season (97-98) so there is a remaining sense of fondness there.

We are moving into a new stadium. How much of an effect has going to the Keepmoat had to the club and its recent successes?
I loved Belle Vue, it was a hole, but it was our hole. However, it had reached the point where nostalgia was all it was good for, and the move to the Keepmoat was necessary for the club to grow, and more importantly, for it to be taken seriously by the population of the town. I'm not sure how much the Keepmoat has contributed to the club's success, but there is no doubting that it has improved the club's image.

Obviously all Brighton fans will be more excited than normal about the first game after waiting 14 years for a new home. Are Doncaster fans looking forward to the occasion or will it be pretty much just another game?
I said back in April that if Rovers stayed up in the Championship I hoped our first game would be Brighton away, to bring events of the last fifteen years full circle, and I'm glad its come to pass. Because of the empathies touched on earlier I don't think it could ever be seen as just another game from a Rovers point of view. If I had my way the two teams would come out to "Looks Like We Made It" by Barry Manilow. That said, all this is null and void if Rovers lose.

Being about to embark on your fourth season in the Championship, what is the difference between it and League One and what do you need to do to be successful?
Take your chances. Its simple, cliched football talk I know, but it does genuinely seem to be key. In Rovers first season back at this level we played some great football from August through to December, but couldn't hit the net and were deservedly rock bottom. The football we play hasn't necessarily improved in the last four years, but we're certainly more prolific. In terms of the difference between the Championship and League One, the obvious one is the money kicking about, notably amongst those who've recently parachuted from the top flight. The sort of sides being assembled by Leicester and West Ham for this season are a far cry from the third tier.

Would you be so bold as to predict who you think will gain promotion this season and which trio do you see slipping out of the division come May? (Please say Palace!)
West Ham look set to repeat Newcastle's brief Championship vacation and I suspect Middlesbrough and Leicester to follow them up, with Forest just missing out in some guise or another, as is their way. Going down, Coventry look buggered, and Peterborough are probably fearful too. Most people will be tipping us to make up the trio, but we should be OK so I'll say Barnsley in the hope it kicks off some sort of South Yorkshire rivalry.

And finally, what do you think the score will be on Saturday?
I never get predictions right so what the hell, a 4-4 opening day thriller (Probably with Rovers having gone 4-0 up as well).

Many thanks to Glen for his insight into the forthcoming fixture. If you use Twitter and fancy tweeting him this weekend as each Albion goal goes in, then you can follow Glen via @vivarovers

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