The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By Chris Dunlavy

JOHN Mar­quis knew Dar­ren Fer­gu­son would lead Don­caster to glory from the mo­ment he sat down to sign for the club last June.

Vic­tory over Mans­field last Satur­day en­sured an im­me­di­ate re­turn to League One for Rovers, with Mar­quis cap­ping a dream week­end by col­lect­ing the League Two Player of the Sea­son award just 24 hours later.

But the 24-year-old, scorer of 26 goals this term, says it is all thanks to the man in the dugout, who has now added a fourth pro­mo­tion to his glit­ter­ing CV.

“I still re­mem­ber my first meet­ing with Dar­ren,” said Mar­quis, who spent seven loan-rid­dled years with boy­hood side Mill­wall be­fore ar­riv­ing at the Keep­moat last sum­mer.

“He put on a pre­sen­ta­tion for me, point­ing out all my best qual­i­ties and all the as­pects he felt he could im­prove. He showed me where I fit­ted into the plans of Don­caster and how their style could suit me.

“It was so im­pres­sive, but that’s him – hours and hours of prepa­ra­tion. He leaves no stone un­turned with ev­ery team we play.

“Ob­vi­ously I knew his rep­u­ta­tion for tak­ing risks on lower league play­ers and turn­ing them into su­per­stars. But it’s only when you work with him that you see why.

“He’s des­per­ate for play­ers to im­prove and spends in­cred­i­ble amounts of time on the train­ing ground – not just with me but with ev­ery­one.

“I hon­estly think I’ve im­proved more in the last ten months than I have in the last four years at Mill­wall and that’s all down to him. “For a League Two club to have him as our man­ager… we’re very lucky. He’s

never won a ti­tle in his ca­reer ei­ther, so we’re des­per­ate to do that for him.”

Should Don­caster’s play­ers suc­ceed, Mar­quis would bag a sec­ond League Two ti­tle in as many sea­sons fol­low­ing last year’s 16-game loan spell at Northamp­ton.


But hav­ing made the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to cut ties with Mill­wall and strike out in South York­shire, the Lewisham lad says noth­ing can top this year’s achieve­ments.

“I went to Northamp­ton with 16 games left and they were in a great po­si­tion,” ex­plained Mar­quis, who played just 65 times for the Lions and was loaned out eight times.

“The job was al­most done and it would have been a trav­esty if they hadn’t gone up. I got the glory but I didn’t feel like I’d done much of the work.

“But this has been a full sea­son’s worth of graft for me. And I’m a proper part of the club. That’s been mas­sive.

“I knew in the sum­mer that I needed to leave Mill­wall. I needed to find my con­fi­dence, which had def­i­nitely been lost a lit­tle bit from not be­ing in the team and go­ing out on loan so much. “All that mat­tered to me was find­ing a club where I’d play, a man­ager who’d make me feel val­ued and wanted. In Dar­ren I’ve got that – some­one who be­lieves in me, gives me the con­fi­dence to go out and play. Hope­fully he feels I’ve re­paid him.” And Mar­quis be­lieves Donny – a Cham­pi­onship club as re­cently as 2014 – can use the Fer­gu­son fac­tor to bounce all the way back. “The man­ager signed play­ers with a view to next sea­son and there’s no doubt we have the abil­ity to com­pete in League One,” he added. “We’ve got mo­men­tum. We’ve got flex­i­bil­ity. We’ve played at­trac­tive foot­ball, ground out ugly 1-0s. We’ve played short, gone long. “We’ve adapted to every­thing thrown at us and that’s all come from the man­ager – as long as we win, he doesn’t care how. “We can’t get too far ahead of our­selves but we’d all like to be in and around the play-offs next year.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

BEAU­TI­FUL DAY: Don­caster’s John Mar­quis cel­e­brates pro­mo­tion with the fans last week­end and, inset, with his League Two Player of the Sea­son award

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