RTID matchday magazine caught up with Rovers longest serving player James Coppinger, who reflects on a mixed season after nine years with the club.
James, it’s been a bit of mixed season for you. Tell me a little bit about it?
Yes, I started the season at Doncaster but came off the coach at the Yeovil away game to go on loan to Forest for nearly five months back with Sean. It’s only the second club I’ve been at in nine years so it was a bit of an eye-opener for me and an experience that I really enjoyed. I wish I’d played a little bit more but I’m back here now and hoping to get promoted again with Doncaster.
So, unusually for you, you’ve had three managers this year!
Yes, it’s been different for me. I’ve been with Dean, back with Sean and now with Brian. All three of them have got something different and it’s been a good experience for me.
Was it hard to adapt to coming back into League One from the Championship?
I think it would have been if I’d played a bit more regularly but with me not playing, I just wanted to come back and games. It’s taken me three or four games to get my fitness back but hopefully I’ll continue to stay fit and play games from now until the end of the season.
You said it was disappointing when you went to Forest. Did you think you would play more games than you actually did?
I think I went there with an open mind; I didn’t know what to expect. There was a new owner, a new manager and a lot of new players coming in. There was a lot of money for players so there were a lot of good quality players as well. I went there to work hard and show what I was all about but I don’t think I really got the chance to do that. It was a shame but I met a lot of new faces and learnt a few things on the way. I’ve come back now and the lads have been flying.
You came back and Dean has gone and Brian has come in. Have you seen much difference between the two managers?
No, I think that’s the reason Brian came in to keep that mentality the same and play the way Dean did. Rob’s had a big influence on and off the pitch trying to implement things the same sort of way. I think it’s been a smooth transition which was something that the club wanted to do.
As a player, what goes through your mind when you don’t win games and you’re up there and people start criticising?
I think that it’s just part of football. When you’re winning games, it’s good as you can’t see yourself losing and it’s the same when you’re losing games, you can’t see yourself winning. We lost two back-to-back but the strength and character of the squad and their experience came to the forefront and we stopped the rot with a couple of draws that weren’t pretty. We’ve then gone on to put up some good performances with good results and long may that continue.
You scored a goal against Hartlepool. It must be good to get back on that score sheet.
Yes it is. Whenever I’ve been playing football, from being a kid to now, the more games I play, the more consistent I get. I scored a goal against Hartlepool and played a part in James Husband’s goal the match before so hopefully I can continue to get that end product and help the team get where it wants to be.
Looking back at past photos you’re one of the faces that seem to be present year on year. What are the highlights of your career here at Rovers?
It’s my ninth season and I’ve had a few highlights. When I first came it would be the Carling Cup run that we had: Villa, Arsenal and Man City. Getting promoted and scoring a hat trick against Southend were massive highlights as was going to Wembley which was huge for the club and me as a player. It inspired me to progress and I think we have as a team.
I think the seasons we had in the Championship were massive and my hat trick against Norwich was big as well. Hopefully, fingers crossed, this season can be another highlight for me as I’m not getting any younger and you want as many promotions and success as you can in any club you play at. For me it’s been Doncaster for nine years and I would like to continue that over the next couple of years.
It is rare these days for a player to stay so long with a club; you’re almost like part of the family.
Yes, I feel like it’s flown to be honest but there’s been a lot of comings and goings with managers, players and staff but I’ve still stayed here. I think the reason I have stayed is because the club has progressed along with me. For me, personally, if I’m happy out of football, it reflects in my football. Sometimes the grass isn’t greener. A lot of lads have left for different reasons but for me, apart from that little spell this season, I’ve been more than happy to stay here.
Two years ago you did the Inca Trek to raise money for NSPCC, are you looking to do another trek like that in the future?
Yes, it was a great life-changing experience to raise money for the NSPCC. I’ve got a few things highlighted for the future with regards to that but I want to get this season, and hopefully my testimonial, out of the way and then go from there. It is something that I would like to do and I look forward to doing it in the future.