Yoga-loving Stephen Bywater on how he needs a groundsman’s help
ECCENTRIC owners, under-fire managers and star players often command the most attention at football clubs.
But Keepmoat Stadium groundsman Jim Davidson is playing a key role in ensuring Doncaster get the best out of January signing Stephen Bywater.
Facilitated by secretary Mary Lally, Davidson, pictured below, unlocks the ground at 6.30 each morning so much-travelled goalkeeper Bywater can go through his morning yoga routine then freshen up, because there are no baths at the training ground.
And the 33-year-old has vowed to repay Doncaster’s unsung hero – and everyone else who has made him feel so welcome in south Yorkshire – by adding to the back-to-back clean-sheets kept after penning a six-month contract earlier this month.
“It’s hard to put into words that feeling you get when you go somewhere new and they welcome you with open arms, and people can’t do enough for you,” said Bywater, now playing for his 13th club.
“The groundsman opens up at 6.30 every day just for me. How good is that? I go in first thing, do my stretches, my yoga. He just does it because he’s a nice guy and wants the club to do well.
“This club compares with West Ham, Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County, all big clubs that I’ve played for who have people that want to help anyway they can so the team can do what it needs to on the pitch. It’s truly amazing.
“I’d love to stay there. It’s only been two weeks but I’m playing and really enjoying it. I’ve been made to feel so welcome by everyone at the club and everyone has the winning mentality, everyone wants to do well.
“I want nothing more in the world than to be playing next season for Doncaster in the Championship.”
When Bywater made his move to Doncaster, boss Paul Dickov said he was coming in to ruffle a few feathers and tell it like it is. The vastly experienced stopper is one of the game’s more colourful characters and no doubt had a few of his team- mates apprehensive about his arrival.
Bywater had previously stated his intention to turn to cage fighting when he hangs up his boots – though now insists he is “too old” – and during his time at Derby became embroiled in a legal row with his neighbours after erecting a makeshift art exhibition in his front garden, consisting of a portable toilet, traffic cone, mattresses and a blow-up doll. His first request when he signed for Doncaster was to occupy squad number 43 – something he has worn since his former goalkeeping coach at West Ham, Les Sealey, passed away at that age in 2001.
EXPERIENCED: Stephen Bywater makes a save for Doncaster