When we last saw One Direction's Louis Tomlinson on a football pitch, he was on the painful end of an innocuous collision with Gabriel Agbonlahor in a charity match back in September. Tomlinson ended up limping off and vomiting into his hand, prompting his legion of teenage fans to threaten Agbonlahor's life on Twitter. The knock forced Tomlinson to cancel his debut for hometown club Doncaster Rovers after he signed as a non-contract player the month before in a move designed to raise money for a local children's hospice and to give the newly promoted second-division club a bit of international publicity.
Now, five months later, Tomlinson's busy popstar schedule finally allowed him to fulfill his dream of player for Doncaster in a reserves match against Rotherham. Normally the club's reserve team matches draw a couple hundred dedicated fans, but Tomlinson's presence had his teenage fans waiting outside Keepmoat Stadium all day, with more than 5,000 buying tickets to give the game a One Direction concert atmosphere. Mostly by screaming continuously.
Tomlinson didn't enter the match until the 64th minute, and according to the Guardian, his performance was about what you'd expect from a non-footballer suddenly being dropped into a professional match.
Louis has "the rogue" tattooed on his calves, one word on each. But on the evidence of Tuesday night, his footballing style appears less rogueish than hapless. He came on in the 64th minute and got his first touch two minutes later, promptly giving the ball away. He spent much of the rest of the match standing with his hands on his hips and playing with his hair – and attempting to shake off the two Rotherham players who seemed determined that no member of a boyband was going to show up their side.
In normal convention, you want your team to win. But as Louis plays in defence, his fans were happy that Rotherham were trampling all over Doncaster, putting him at the heart of the action. They screamed when he fell on his bottom after over-exerting himself with a kick. They yelped when he stood by the goalpost during a corner. They cared not a jot that the final score was a nil-nil draw. They'd got nearer to Louis Tomlinson than most ever would when his band play Wembley – and all for a £7 ticket.
Of course, the point of this was never to start Tomlinson on a path to playing in the Champions League — it was to raise money for Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice and give Doncaster's club ship a wave of a first-time customers. So on those fronts it was surely a success.
After the match, Tomlinson expressed his appreciation for the opportunity and said he was just hoping to avoid a repeat of his last attempt at football.
It's unclear if Tomlinson will make any further appearances for Doncaster. If not, maybe they can sign fellow Doncaster native and Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson.