In 1879, a football match between the Doncaster Deaf and Dumb Institution and a group of young men from Great Northern Railway Engineering works (the Plant) helped form Doncaster Rovers football club.
May 4 marks the beginning of Deaf Awareness Week and presents a perfect opportunity to celebrate that pivotal day in Rovers' history.
According to the Doncaster Review, written in 1896, Doncaster Rovers originated when one of the masters of what is now the Doncaster School for the Deaf asked Albert Jenkins if he could get a team together to play a friendly game against the boys at the school.
Jenkins – who worked at The Plant – put together a team of his fellow rail workers. Jenkins’ team trailed 4-0 at half-time but with a bit of intervention and a change of formation for the second half, the match ended 4-4.
The Review states: “naturally they were greatly elated at their success, and on the way back to the town, they halted under the wall that separates Elmfield Park from Hall Cross Hill, and held an impromptu meeting, and there and then formed themselves into a club, giving themselves the name of the Doncaster Rovers.”
140 years of history, of highs and lows, and of joy and heartbreak was only possible because of that match.
To mark Deaf Awareness Week, our U18s have been learning some sign language, staff from across Club DOncaster have signed up for a free British Sign Language course, and John Coyle has profiled one of the great players to grace the field for Rovers who also happened to be deaf.
As part of the 140 year celebrations, Albert Jenkins was voted into the Rovers Hall of Fame earlier in the season and you can read all about him here.
Thank you to John Coyle for his help in writing this article.