Saturday, 1 October 2011

Rochdale - Spotland

Rochdale FC
Spotland Stadium
Wilbutts Lane
OL11 5DR

0844 826 1907

Ground Number: 106
Monday 28th March 2005
Rochdale 1-1 Wycombe Wanderers
Coca-Cola League 2


The club in its current incarnation was formed in 1906, though there are records of a club in Rochdale playing in the Lancashire Combination as far back as 1896. After a brief spell in the Central League, the club joined the Football League in 1921 and have not looked back since. Although they spent the first 37 years in the basement division, highlights included a couple of runners-up spots in Division 3 North in the 1920's - a far cry from their debut season when they finished bottom and had to reapply for membership. In 1958, following the scrapping of the bottom divisions being regionalised, Rochdale were placed in Division 3, though the season finished in disaster with a bottom place finish. Back in the basement tier, Rochdale would have to wait until 1969 to secure their first official promotion with a 3rd place finish behind Doncaster Rovers and Halifax Town being good enough for them to go up. A five-season spell in the third tier followed, with a credible 9th place finish being achieved in 1970. Relegation in 1974 would signal 36 consecutive seasons in the bottom-tier would follow before Rochdale would finally win promotion to League 1 in 2010 following a 3rd place finish. Aside from a two-year spell in the bottom tier between 2012 and 2014, the club has played there ever since, with a record 8th place finish in 2015.

This season has seen the record progress in the FA Cup equalled, with a chance to better it and reach the quarter-final. The 5th round had previously been reached in 1990 with a 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace and then again in 2003 with a 3-1 defeat at Wolves. In 1962, Rochdale reached the League Cup final, only to lose 4-0 on aggregate to Norwich City. In the Football League Trophy, the club has reached the Northern final twice but missed out on a trip to Wembley with aggregate defeats to Carlisle United in 1995 and Stoke City in 2000. Local cup wins include the Lancashire Senior Cup, lifted on three occasions, the last being in 2005 as the defeated local rivals Bury 1-0. 


Rochdale has always been one of my favourite away days. Good friendly fans and club, one of the best chippies in the UK and all in all an enjoyable day out. The first of these visits came at the tail end of the 2004/05 season. It would be Wycombe's first trip to Spotland since the 1993/94 season, as we had been relegated to League 2 at the end of the previous season. On a warm bank holiday Monday. I was going to every Wycombe game, home and away at this point and with Wycombe having lost the last 2 games away to Cambridge and at home to Northampton, I was not harbouring any great hopes of a result at the time. Under previous Wycombe manager Tony Adams, Wycombe had lost the home game 3-0 in one of the worst performances I'd ever seen from the side. In this game, Wycombe, now managed by John Gorman fell behind through a 16th-minute penalty from Gary Jones. We'd go on to have the better of the game, creating a fair few chances but only having a 47th minute Nathan Tyson goal to show for the efforts.

I was back in Rochdale a few months later as the geniuses at the football league decided to hand us a midweek fixture for a long trip. I went on the supporters coach and enjoyed a nice chippy tea. This time I'd be rewarded for my efforts as Wycombe triumphed 2-1 in the start of an unbeaten run that would last until the week before Christmas. Goals from Stefan Oakes and Matt Bloomfield put Wycombe firmly in control and even another Gary Jones penalty couldn't prevent Wycombe getting all 3 points. Wycombe's next 3 visits would all go swimmingly and we'd win all of the games without conceding a goal. For 2 of those visits, I'd contribute to Rochdale's programme and remember being an admirer of their tireless midfielder David Perkins who played for the club at the time.

For my sixth visit, I had arranged to take mates to the game. So after meeting Salmon near my house, we made our way to pick Paul and Danny up. We left Wycombe about 8.10 and I had planned to go into Rochdale itself before the game. But the M6 was true to recent form, and we had an hour wait after some tool overturned their car just before Stafford. You can only hope that the victims of the crash were OK, but it's damn frustrating all the same, especially when you find out too late to come off the motorway and take an alternative route. At least I got to visit Curzon Ashton and Chadderton's grounds, though it was a tiny bit too late to walk into town as we got there about 12.45. I did console myself with a very nice Rag Pudding, Peas and Chips from the aforementioned excellent chippy. By then the team were due to arrive so we all waited to applaud them off the coach. After chatting with a few other fans in the vicinity I decided to go out and check a pub about 10 minutes walk away that came well recommended - the Cemetery Hotel. It was not bad at all and after a bottle of Thatcher's Katy cider and watching the end of the Merseyside derby, I made my way to the ground, arriving just before kick off.

Paying £20 to get in, I was hoping to get some value out of my ticket. It started well enough, with Scott Donnelly putting us ahead in the first 10 minutes.But it was not to last. 2 goals from Ashley Grimes, the second one after a bounce deceived James Tunnicliffe saw the Dale through 2-1, To be frank, they deserved the victory after being by far the better side. It would be our first defeat at Rochdale, but the next few visits that I didn't attend resulted in little to smile about for the Wycombe fans.

VISIT 7: ROCHDALE 2-2 SPURS (FA CUP R5, 18/2/18)

As I had the weekend off work, I was always looking to do a game on this day. There were a number of options, with me potentially staying up in Yorkshire on Saturday. Leeds United v Bristol City was the closest, but one that I didn't really fancy, given that they were charging £28 plus booking fees for the cheapest ticket. It wasn't the most attractive game either. Another option was Rochdale v Tottenham Hotspur, but I didn't think that I'd get a ticket. Nevertheless, I set a reminder in my phone, at the point they went online, so at 9 am on the previous Monday, I registered, booked and paid online, all whilst sitting on the toilet. I was in two minds about waiting till I got home, but glad I didn't as the tickets were withdrawn from online sale a couple of hours later. What was very nice was that the club had decided to charge normal league prices, rather than take the opportunity to cash in. This meant that my first visit to Rochdale for nearly six and a half years would cost me just £21, including booking fee. I'd opted for a seat behind the goal, but a terrace ticket could have been had for as little as £17 if you took the trouble to go down to the ground and queue for your ticket.

I didn't have the best nights sleep on the night before the game, waking around 5, watching some Youtube before drifting back off to sleep again. I eventually got up at 8, having a shower and getting ready before typing my blog. I was just in time to leave at 10, but not before double checking that the game was still going ahead. Despite this, after turning up at the specified venue for Fryston v Ossett Central WMC in the Wakefield Sunday League, there was no sign of the teams and just rugby being played on an adjacent pitch. It was a shame as it had a decent sized stand and the extra game would have been most welcome. I stopped at Glasshoughton Welfare to get some pictures of their ground, before making my way to the afternoon game at Rochdale. After a drive, I got to Rochdale at 12.30, first off collecting my ticket before going back to the car to get my things. I’d parked around half a mile away and with plenty of time to kill, I walked into town. My first port of call was the Flying Horse Hotel, where I had a pint of Appleshed Dark Fruits which was a nice light one. Next up was the Regal Moon. A cut above the usual Wetherspoons, this had 4 real ciders including one of my favourites, Black Dragon. I had a pint of this while catching up online, using the free WiFi. Both pubs were very busy and it took a while to get served, thanks to the football being on. By the time I'd left, it was 2.20 with me getting to the ground half an hour later. I went to the ever-excellent Wilbutts Lane Chippy where I had rag pudding, gravy and chips before going into the ground at 3.15.

The view was excellent and the game was a real cracker, as you can see from the Daily Star's match report above. I was cheering on Rochdale pretty enthusiastically, as I will on Wednesday when they play Milton Keynes. Rochdale have always been a nice club to visit and this time was no exception. I got back to my car at 6.10 and as you would expect with all the traffic, it took a while to get out of town. I finally completed the few miles around 6.45, getting on the motorway and heading south. There was a massive stretch of roadworks on the M6, narrow lanes, restricted speed and a complete lack of work going on were the order of the day. The Radio 5 phone in and then some podcasts kept me company on the way home. I had to come off a junction early at Stokenchurch due to roadworks at Handy Cross but I did the journey in one hit and was back home by 10. I was hoping to watch highlights of the game on Match Of The Day 2, but for some reason, there was a load of garbage on the TV. I still had a drink whilst catching up online, before getting into bed at 11. I watched Corrie for an hour before switching my light off at midnight. It took me a while to drift off, not great when I was up at 4 for work and I badly needed my usual nap the following afternoon.


SPOTLAND is a modern ground, perfect for Rochdale's and most other clubs in the bottom 2 divisions needs. Away fans are probably given the best stand of all. The Wilbutts Lane stand is the biggest one with a capacity of 4,000 and the only one with no pillars. It is all seated, as is most of the ground. To the left is the Pearl Street stand, a medium sized all-seater stand behind the goal. Directly opposite is the main stand, slightly smaller than the one used for away fans. It also has executive boxes, a bar and houses the dressing rooms. Finally, completing the set is a small covered standing area - the Sandy Lane Terrace, now the only standing accommodation in the ground. Overall the capacity is 10,249.

At the ground is a bar and you will receive a nice welcome from the friendly club here, apparently, the Radcliffe Arms does real ales. There are a few pubs nearer the ground, the Cemetery Hotel is probably the pick of those, offering real ales and ciders. Further afield, the town is 20 minutes walk away, this has a Wetherspoons outlet called The Regal Moon and a few other decent looking outlets including the Flying Horse Hotel. The town also has a number of takeaways but right opposite the away end is the Wilbutts Lane chippy, and exceptional establishment and one of the best in the country.



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