Last Friday night brought what the vast majority of Rovers supporters saw as a relief. We lost in extra time at Salford under the golden point rule – a defeat that the chairman described as ‘very frustrating’, as we had led 16-10 with a minute to go. It summed up the season in many ways. But Super League survival was guaranteed by Wakefield’s win over London. 
Late resistance from Stuart Guy 
York Beer Festival at the Racecourse 
Afterwards, the chairman made a statement on the club website in which he revealed that this was the first of his fifteen seasons as owner of the club in which he had endured ‘personal abuse’. You would think that the millions and millions of pounds that he has poured into the club over that time would guarantee immunity from this, but the world of social media brings out the worst in people. I sent him a message to do my little bit to redress the balance! 
On Saturday morning we went to see Lucy and the grandchildren for coffee in the sunshine before making our way to Woodlands. I think that the first thing that struck me was that the Management Board decision to allow the semis to be played on the grounds of the ‘home clubs’ was thoroughly vindicated by the attendance that day alone. It was really good to see the ground buzzing. 
On the field, I am sorry to say, it was just not Doncaster’s day. The decision to bowl first, as Duncan Heath said to me later, was a good one at the time, but the bowlers were unable to take advantage of the early conditions. The South African-born Brad Schmulian batted beautifully for his 122 and with good support from his colleagues, the total of 299-8 was a really steep mountain to climb. 
Doncaster would have needed a really strong start, with a big hundred from one of their top three, but it was soon obvious that it was not to be, and the wily old left arm-spinner Chris Brice destroyed the middle-order with 6-20. He has over 800 League wickets, and there would appear to be no reason why he will not go on to reach the four figure mark. 
It was a chastening defeat, but it has still been a great season for Doncaster, who in addition to winning our league championship, were t20 finalists and Viking Cricket Cup semi-finalists. It has been a great come-back from the 2016 relegation. 
We spent a lot of the afternoon watching the cricket with Ray Knowles and Steve Ward; I had a good chat with our Management Board chairman, Alan Birkinshaw, and renewed acquaintance with Woodlands secretary Brian Pearson, an old colleague from my years in the civil service. Brian has been one of the main people behind Woodlands for twenty or more years now – the sort of selfless worker that every good club needs. 
I had a quick word with the Woodlands lads as they sat on the outfield after the game. I congratulated them on their performance and wished them all the very best for tomorrow’s final. No disrespect to Sheriff Hutton Bridge, but I think there is a crumb of comfort in being beaten by the eventual champions. I then had a chat with Duncan Heath – he is one of the ever-decreasing number of players in our league that I have umpired over many seasons. His opinions are always thoughtful and well worth listening to. 
On Sunday, we were able to relax a bit with the family again, then on Monday I got a fair amount of cricket work done – mainly on the match programme for tomorrow, then preparation for Wednesday’s committee meeting. Tuesday was Kirsty’s nephew Joe’s birthday, and I travelled across to pick Kirsty up from Wakefield station at what should have been 4pm. I never realised how bad the traffic was in Wakefield – it rather put into perspective my perennial complaints about the infrastructure in Hull! 
After a family fish and chip supper from the Wetherby Whaler, I went to meet James Ward and Martin Hall from Doncaster Town. James gave me his thoughts on Saturday and the season in general. I reflected afterwards that the season after a triumph always holds its own challenge – you have to move forward to stand still, never mind improve! Martin has some very interesting opinions on cricket matters too, and we had a useful meeting. 
On Wednesday I was back at the university in the morning. There is a bit of unrest amongst the invigilating team as the university is having to make serious cut-backs, and we are apparently under threat. If the jobs end, it would be a disappointment to me, because I enjoy our sessions and the camaraderie – but for others it means potential hardship. Some of them have a number of sources of income – probably what would be called ‘zero hours contracts’ – which put together help them to make ends meet. It underlines to me how lucky I was to have a good civil service career. 
At teatime I travelled across to Doncaster for our meeting. I try to restrict our meetings to a two-hour slot, but this season we have overrun in all four. This prompted me to discuss the matter with our wise vice-chairman Matt Summerhill, and he suggested that we schedule monthly meetings during the season, rather than bi-monthly as now, on the basis that we could cancel and do any urgent business by email if the agenda was thin. It makes sense, and, as Matt says, a shorter meeting might allow us to have half an hour ‘social time’ afterwards, which can be invaluable. I know from experience how many useful ideas can be generated informally. Something to consider for next season. 
The attendance was the lowest for a committee meeting thus far – I certainly do not take this as any lack of commitment, simply that we had two members out of the country and three with family commitments, which must come first. Nonetheless we had a very useful meeting, covering a lot of ground including disciplinary issues, the dinner, 2020 fixtures, rules revision, Club of the Year, Hall of Fame and sponsorship. I emailed a summary to the whole committee, to ensure that those who could not be there had the opportunity to input, and the full notes of the meeting will be published in a week or so. 
Yesterday I was at the York Beer Festival. York is the biggest beer festival in Yorkshire and always has a great selection of local ales – yesterday was no exception. My pal from London, Malc, came up overnight, and it was good to see him as ever. I have spent many happy hours in York with an old work friend who died last year, and it is impossible to go there without thinking of him – what he would have thought of the closure of the York Brewery Club I can only imagine. Perhaps it is a blessing that he never had to know. His widow, Janet, joined us for a couple of hours and it was good to see her looking so well. Fortunately, she is a positive person who takes the view that we are only here the once, so you have to make the most of it. 
This morning I was back at the university for the last of the current sessions. It was uneventful, but afterwards a couple of the permanent staff assured me they would see us in January, which was encouraging. The university is now a hotbed of activity with all the new students enrolling for their next three years. I have mixed feelings – on the one hand you envy them having all their lives ahead of them, but on the other, recent events make you wonder what sort of world it will be when they reach my age! On that note, I will end for now! 
Tomorrow I shall be at Headingley for the play-off final (in my usual role as programme seller) and on Sunday Kirsty and I plan to be at Derby for the t20 finals – hopefully the forecast for the day will change before then! Whatever, I wish Collegiate all the very best in their efforts to bring home the national t20 cup. It would be great for both club and our league if they could. 
Till next week, 
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