In May 2004 Rovers boss Dave Penney paid £30,000 to secure the services of a winger from Exeter City. It was to prove to be outstanding value for money. James Coppinger had begun his career at Darlington and made an appearance in the Premier League for Newcastle United before spending two seasons at Exeter. He made his Rovers debut on 14th August 2004 in an away game at Bradford City. It was to be the first of a record-breaking tally of over 600 appearances for Rovers.
The James Coppinger story is also the story of the ups and downs of Doncaster Rovers over the last 15 years. He played a key part in 2005-06 as Rovers reached the quarter-finals of the League Cup. He appeared in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Cardiff in April 2007, as Rovers won their first knock-out competition as a Football League club. He had a starring role as Rovers won the 2007-08 League One play offs, beating Leeds United 1-0 in a Wembley Final. Coppinger had helped secure Rovers big day out with a brilliant hat-trick in the second leg of the semi-final against Southend United.
He was a regular member of the Rovers team that spent four seasons in the Championship between 2008 and 2012. After their relegation, it was Coppinger who scored the dramatic last-gasp breakaway goal that saw Rovers win 1-0 at Brentford and secure the League One title for 2012-13.
He remained a regular as Rovers went from the Championship to League Two before bouncing back to League One. In 2018-19 he participated in Rovers’ progress to the Fifth Round of the FA Cup and the League One Play-Off semi-finals. Managers and players come and go, but James Coppinger remains the constant. He has played for seven permanent managers and he has played alongside more than 220 different Rovers team-mates. Season 2019-20 represents the 16th season with Rovers for one of our all-time greats.
Rovers Debut: 14th August 2004, League One, vs. Bradford City (away) Lost 0-2.
Rovers Career: Football League: 553 appearances, 60 goals. All senior games: 625 appearances, 69 goals
Honours with Rovers: Johnstone’s Paint Trophy winner 2006-07, League One Play-Off winner 2007-08, League One Champions 2012-13.