Rovers’ mischievous striker John Marquis is ready to ruffle feathers against Crystal Palace in the League One club’s first FA Cup fifth-round tie for 63 years
At first, John Marquis did not really warm to the idea of moving to Doncaster. “I was umming and ahhing, I wasn’t sure,” he says. “But my agent kept saying: ‘Just go up and have a chat, see what they’ve got to say’.”
That was nearly three years ago and it is no exaggeration to say he is now fully immersed in a club which has transformed his life and career. “I love it here. It just shows you’ve got to keep your mind open,” says the free-scoring No 9, of whom Crystal Palace would be wise to be wary during Sunday’s FA Cup fifth-round tie at the Keepmoat Stadium. “Darren Ferguson was the manager back then. As soon as I left the room after meeting him, I knew I wanted to join Doncaster. I’m really settled here now, so I’ve got a lot to thank Darren for.”
Although Marquis spent the previous 11 years as a Millwall player, nine loan moves took the south Londoner from Staines to Northampton and a few places in between. He craved stability, routine and familiarity.
When Grant McCann replaced Ferguson last summer the striker felt a stab of fear that a return to the open road might beckon but instead the 26-year-old has scored 22 goals this season and hopes to propel Doncaster into the League One playoffs.
“I’ve clicked really well with Grant,” he says, leaning back in his chair in a corner of a large, otherwise deserted function room at the Keepmoat. “When you’ve had a really good relationship with a manager and he leaves you do worry but I’m scoring more goals, we’re challenging for promotion and this club’s in the fifth round for the first time in 63 years.
“I’ve taken to Doncaster very well. It was a fresh challenge for me, on and off the pitch. I wanted to get away from where I was living and just concentrate properly on football. I had loads of friends in south London and I was going out socialising a lot but I decided I wanted to get the best out of myself.”