Doncaster beer honours 203 record

Special brew celebrates legendary match from 1946

Legend surrounds rye IPA created to mark the arrival of Doncaster Brewery at Doncaster Rovers

Fans going to today’s League Two clash between Doncaster Rovers and Notts County can wet their whistle before the game while celebrating a piece of football history at the same time, writes Paul Davis.

Recently installed as caterers at Rovers’ Eco-Power Stadium, local Doncaster Brewery have produced a beer called 203 Minutes, a rye IPA, with an ‘earthy, sweet citrus taste’ and with a ‘subtle citrusy aroma’. It also celebrates a bizarre football legend.

While not yet available at the ground, this unique beer can be found at the Doncaster Brewery Tap Room right in town at 7 Young Street.

Apart from being delighted to find that this curious new brew weighs in at 6% ABV, visitors to Doncaster may be interested in discovering that they’re also drinking to a sporting record that will almost certainly never be broken.

Alison & Ian Blaylock, Doncaster Brewery/Paul Davis

Ian and Alison Blaylock, who set up Doncaster Brewery together in January 2012, take up the story: “We were both born in Doncaster and we wanted to do something to raise the profile of the town, hence the name Doncaster Brewery and the focus of the beer names being about Doncaster’s rich history and also current events”.

“We funded the project ourselves. Ian built the microbrewery from scratch over the course of nine months, from the start to the first brew. We can make 4,320 pints in a 15-barrel run although we can also brew five barrels at a time to keep a good range of different options on the bar counter.”

As of this summer, Ian and Alison have also set up shop at Doncaster Rovers, whose stadium caterers were replaced before the current 2023-24 season. That was when Doncaster Brewery got to work on creating a new football-themed beer for the occasion.

Doncaster Brewery Tap Room/Doncaster Brewery

“We brew cask beers and a football stadium needs keg which lasts longer,” explains Alison, keen to have 203 Minutes available soon at the Eco-Power Stadium, too. “We are currently working on making 203 a keg beer but in the meantime, our little knot of DRFC and visiting fans are enjoying the story and the taste of 203 Minutes!”

On March 30, 1946, Stockport County hosted Doncaster Rovers in a Third Division North Cup tie. After extra time, the score still pegged at 2-2 and penalty shoot-outs were decades away, the referee declared that both teams should ‘Play to win!’, a radio-era equivalent of the Golden Goal.

After 172 minutes (!), Stockport had a goal ruled out. Legend has it that with the light fading, some spectators left the game to go home for their tea, and then came back again. Finally, with the teams still locked in near darkness at 2-2, the ref was forced to call time at 203 minutes, making this the longest game ever played and still a world record to this day.

Doncaster Brewery/Paul Davis

There was one last piece of action: the coin toss to decide who would host the replay. The Doncaster captain chose right, and Rovers went on to beat County 4-0. They didn’t win the trophy, however, that was Rotherham, after another 2-2 draw and replay with Chester.

“With 203,” says Alison Blaylock, bringing us back to the present day and the vital matter of pre-match drinking, “the beer came first, a red IPA which reflected Doncaster Rovers’ colours. Then we discovered the little-known claim to Rovers had been involved in the longest ever game of football”.

While the 1946 replay would have taken place at Rovers’ old ground of Belle Vue, Doncaster moved to the new-build Keepmoat in 2007. In December 2021, it changed its name to the Eco-Power Stadium.

“Since the new stadium was built, Doncaster Rovers have become a very well run club who have regularly won national awards for their work in the community,” says Alison. “In a small way, we like to think we are part of it.”

Doncaster Brewery & Tap, 7 Young Street, Doncaster DN1 3EL.