Rovers travel to Rochdale for their 3rd league game of the campaign in what will be the first ever league meeting between the sides.  There are some in Greater Manchester who refer to League 2 as ‘the Rochdale division’, because the club have spent so much time there.  Rochdale spent 36 seasons in the 4th tier between 1974 and 2010, which is the longest any club has spent in the bottom tier of the EFL.  In fact, Rochdale have only ever played in the 3rd or 4th tier of English football over the last 100 years.  The club have the distinction of having played the most seasons in the EFL without ever reaching the top 2 tiers nor being relegated to the National League!

Rochdale made a return to League 1 in 2014 but were relegated last season back to League 2.  So this is the first time that FGR & Rochdale have been in the same division.

Rochdale’s Spotland Stadium

Rochdale, known as ‘the Dale’ play their fixtures at Spotland Stadium (also known as the Crown Oil Stadium for sponsorship reasons).  Spotland has a capacity of 10,249 and has been Rochdale’s home for 101 years.

The club seem to be going through something of a transition of late.  The Dale narrowly missed out on survival in League One last season and, as of June, the squad only had nine contracted first team players, according to the club’s recently published retained list.  It’s difficult to know what sort of team Rovers will face in August.  We’ll try and keep this article updated nearer the time.

The board of Rochdale are saying that they will look to sell the club to new owners in order to provide ‘outside investment’.  They believe the team ‘cannot compete and thrive without the injection of significant amounts of money’ which is not currently available through the usual means, such as ticket sales and matchday hospitality.

A statement from the club’s board says “As a football club operating at an elite level of professional football, we cannot compete and thrive without the injection of significant amounts of money that are not available to us in the traditional way that we have been funded throughout our history”.  They say the club has been approached by a number of outside investors looking to buy shares but that none of these deals had been ‘sufficiently detailed, credible or funded’ until recently.  The board went on to offer details on a new proposed deal but said it would need shareholders to agree resolutions set to be put forward at the EGM, which would allow the issue of new shares.  “Without having the authority to issue new shares, the board is effectively stifled in its ability to seek new investment and we are left in a situation where the status quo prevails”.

Where are they now?

One of Rochdale’s famous former players is striker, Jimmy Greenhoff.  Dubbed one of the greatest players never to play for England, Greenhoff had the most successful spell of his seven-club career with Manchester United (1976-1980), scoring the winner (deflected off Lou Macari) in the 1977 FA Cup Final against Liverpool.  He then coached in Canada and at Port Vale before joining Rochdale as a player in 1982.  He went on to be player manager in March 1983.  He resigned a year later after a poor run of form and left football to set up an insurance company with a partner. The partner ended up going to jail for “mismanaging” the business, and Greenhoff, cleared of any wrongdoing, was left having to settle the company’s debts. Losing everything, including his home, he now drives a forklift truck for a wallpaper warehouse in Alsager, Cheshire.

Jimmy’s brother, Brian, something of an Old Trafford legend, who also played for the 1977 cup winning side, died suddenly in 2013 aged 60.  This robbed Jimmy of any chance of reconciliation with his brother – the two had not spoken to each other for over 20 years.  Brian’s memorial service was at Rochdale Crematorium.

Jimmy Greenhoff (centre) winning the FA Cup with Man Utd