Rovers Official Website met up with 70’s legend Peter Kitchen at his home in Kent as he describes his life at Rovers, here is Part 2.
What is your best memory of your time at Rovers?
Unfortunately during the 7 seasons that I played at Rovers, we were either fighting against relegation or against reelection so there were no Championships, promotions, FA Cup giant killing runs or victory parades, but I still had a wonderful time at the club and lots of very good memories, especially of some of
the goals I scored. I scored after 90 seconds of my league debut away at Shrewsbury and after 95 seconds of my home debut v Swansea a week later.
Scoring against First division Stoke City in a pre season friendly, I still have the picture of a despairing Gordon Banks after I had dribbled round him before putting the ball in the net.
Scoring a goal against Liverpool at Anfield in the 3rd round of the FA Cup when we drew 2-2 against the best team in the country at the time, scoring against Hull City when we beat them 2-1 to go through to a 5th round League cup tie against Spurs at White Hart Lane where I also scored, unfortunately we lost that game 7-2 after holding out at 2-2 for over an hour. Scoring against the First Division Champions Derby County in the League cup in 1975, a team that had Dave Mackay and a host of top players in their team.
Scoring 2 goals in the final of the Sheffield and Hallamshire County cup when we beat Sheffield Utd, who were a First Division team at the time and had in their team, my favourite ever player, Tony Currie.
Winning the Rovers 'Player of the Year' award in 1976, an engraved Rotary watch, ( which unfortunately I lost in Hong Kong in 1982 ) and being selected in the PFA '4th Division All Star teams' by my fellow professionals in both the 1976 & 1977 seasons.
I have lots of other memories, both good and bad, about the training methods, the facilities, the Players and the Camaraderie and the old Belle Vue stadium, which are too numerous to mention in detail, but it's safe to say the facilities we had are a lot different to those enjoyed by footballers today, but I wouldn't change any of them, because I feel privileged to have been a professional Footballer and to have played for one of my local clubs, Doncaster Rovers FC.
Who was your best mate at Rovers?
My first best mate at the club was Brian Joy, he was a full back who was signed from Tranmere Rovers by Maurice Setters and he rented a house in Mexborough from Chairman Ben Bailey, which he shared with his girl friend, now his wife Sylvia.
I lived in a similar house also rented from Ben Bailey and we shared car driving into training every day. Brian had a convertible MGB sports car that I loved and we often went out socially together. Unfortunately Brian only had one season at the club before he left to join Exeter City. He later played for Torquay and York city before going to play in America with a number of clubs including San Diego and San Jose. I recently made contact with Brian who now lives in Bo'ness in Scotland and we met up in York for a 40th reunion in October.
I was also very good friends with Terry Curran, before he left Rovers and went on to have a very eventful playing career with a number of clubs, most memorably at Sheffield Wed. Terry was a bit of a gambler and taught me a lot about Horse racing, at the local betting shops, although as a young father I didn't have enough money to make it a regular habit and thankfully, I never got hooked.
It was because I had a young family and lived in Mexborough, a few miles outside Doncaster that I didn't really socialise as much with the other players and I also had my parents, family and friends in the town, so when I wasn't training or playing, most of my social time was spent with them.
What is the highlight of your career?
That would have to be my first season at Leyton Orient in what is now the Championship, in the 1977-78 season, when I was the Divisions Top goalscorer and Orient reached the Semi final of the FA Cup.
I personally won the Daily Mirror and Evening Standard Footballer of the Month awards for January and March respectively and Orient's 'Player of the Year ' award at the end of the season.
I had moved from Rovers in the summer for £45,000 and had an incredible first season scoring 29 goals for the O's, including 7 in the FA Cup when we knocked out 3 first Division teams and I scored in every round of the cup on the way to a semi final tie against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge, which unfortunately we lost 3-0.
Finishing as the Division's top scorer was quite an achievement in a struggling team (we only stayed up when I scored the only goal in a 1-0 win at Cardiff in the last match of the season) and in a league that included a host of big clubs and some very famous players at the time, such as Glenn Hoddle, Peter Reid, Frank Worthington and Sam Allardyce to name a few.
Do you have any memorabilia from your time at Rovers?
I don't have many items from that period and unfortunately, as I said above, I lost my engraved Rotary watch, which had been given to me by the Supporters club for winning the Rovers 'Player of the Year ' award in 1976.
I do have a crystal decanter, given to each player for winning the Sheffield & Hallamshire County cup final also in 1976 and the 2x PFA medals I won for being voted in the 4th Division All Star teams in both the 75/76 & 76/77 seasons. I also have a more recent Rovers shirt, with my name and favourite No 10, which was presented to me by John Ryan before the League Cup game v Aston Villa a few years ago.
I also have quite a few old programmes, both home and away games from my time at Doncaster, but mostly I have the memories of a wonderful and exciting time in my career.
A few years ago, I was asked to write a Biography, ' The Goal Gourmet ' The Peter Kitchen story, which was written by Neil Kaufman, the official historian at Leyton Orient FC and was published in 2006 and contains quite a few anecdotal stories, lots of pictures, comments about some of the players and managers that I played with and for and all the career details of my appearances and goals etc. which is well worth a read and is available from Amazon.