This past weekend saw the first round of the Emirates FA Cup and it’s fair to say that there were some rather big results. The biggest probably came on the Friday. It was the class of ‘92 that were celebrating when they saw their team, Salford City secure a place in the second round, seeing off Notts County two goals to nothing.
However, for me this was not the biggest story of the weekend. Over in South Yorkshire, League One outfit Doncaster Rovers saw off Stalybridge Celtic from the National League North, with a score line of two goals to nothing.
A fairly routine and expected victory for the Vikings, but it was a day that had nothing to do with the match or indeed the FA Cup. Veteran right midfielder James Coppinger broke the all-time appearances record for the Rovers, making his 469th appearance.
His two most memorable moments in a Doncaster Rovers shirt came in 2008 and 2013 respectively. In the 2008 League One Play-Off semi-final second leg, Coppinger scored a hat trick of wonderful goals to help Rovers dispatch Southend United 5-1 to reach the final – where Rovers beat Leeds 1-0 to reach the Championship.
On 27 April 2013, a quite remarkable final match of the season took place at Griffin Park. Coppinger scored the winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Brentford in the final minutes of added time only seconds after Brentford’s Marcello Trotta had hit his penalty against the crossbar.
The remarkable part to the match was that if Brentford would have scored the penalty and beaten Doncaster, then they would have achieved automatic promotion to the Championship and Doncaster, who were in second place at the beginning of the day, would have had to play in the play-offs.
However, Coppinger scored and the win for Doncaster actually put them one point above league leaders Bournemouth, meaning they were crowned League One champions.
Coppinger, or ‘Copps’ as he is affectionately known as by the Doncaster faithful is a great example of something that is rarely seen in modern day football; a loyal player.
It was Doncaster that gave him the chance to resurrect his career when he was signed from Exeter City in 2004. Coppinger even admitted in a recent interview that following Exeter’s relegation, he came very close to quitting football.
I do not think I will ever see somebody who is as loyal to my club as James Coppinger has been. He is a role model to all young Doncaster fans out there, a consummate professional and at the tender age of 34, has no plans to end his career yet.