CLUB GUIDE: Rochdale A.F.C
Rochdale Association Football Club are an English football club based in Rochdale, Greater Manchester. They play their home matches at Spotland Stadium are managed by Keith Hill. They have an average attendance of around 2,500.
Rochdale AFC was formed in 1907 and accepted into the Manchester League that year before joining the Lancashire Combination in 1908. After winning the League in 1911 Rochdale unsuccessfully applied to join the Football League, proposing the creation of a new Third Division. After the First World War the Football League was expanded and the club, again, unsuccessfully applied to join.
Finally, in 1921, Rochdale were recommended to included in the new Third Division North, and played their first League game at home against Accrington Stanley on August 27, 1921, winning 6-3. However, this first season ended with the club bottom of the League, having to reapply for membership.
The club have spent the last 31 seasons in the Football League's bottom division, currently entitled League Two. This is the longest time any team has been in the bottom division of the football league, with some even derisively renaming it 'the Rochdale Division'. They reached the League Cup final in 1962 - the only time a club from the bottom league division has reached the final of a major competition - where they lost to Norwich City. The club barely avoided relegation in the 2003/2004 season after two good seasons where they ended up one point outside the play-offs (8th place) and two places inside (5th place). However, they lost their play-off semi-final to Rushden & Diamonds.
The season after this they reached the Fifth Round of the FA Cup, beating clubs such as Preston North End and Coventry City, but losing eventually to Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-1. In the 2004/2005 season the club improved on previous seasons by finishing in a respectable 9th place. In 2005/06, the club finished in 14th, despite an excellent start to the season which saw them in the playoff places in December. This disappointment prompted the manager Steve Parkin to release 6 players from the first team squad before the last league match against Lincoln City.
Steve Parkin had two spells at the Rochdale helm. The first reign lasted from the summer of 1998 until November 2001, when he moved to Barnsley - being sacked after less than a year.
When Alan Buckley was sacked in late 2003, Parkin was re-appointed and remained in charge until his sacking.
His assistant Tony Ford was a regular player for Rochdale in the autumn of 2001, by which time he was 41 years old and one of the oldest and most experienced men ever to kick a football at senior level. But he hung up his boots after following Parkin to the dugout at Barnsley.
Rochdale entered a new era, with David Kilpatrick stepping down as Dale chairman, and Chris Dunphy taking over, and Rochdale are surely in for an interesting ride. Parkin made his first signing of the 2006/2007 summer in the shape of 21 year old left-winger Adam Rundle; with a squad so small at this moment in time, more signings were needed, notably defenders Nathan Stanton, Lee Crooks and Lewis Edge whilst missing out on the likes of Lawrie Dudfield, Michael Branch and Rory McArdle.
Rochdale then suffered a major blow on the eve of the transfer window. Despite being offered a wage reported around £2,000 a week, Rickie Lambert who was top scorer for Rochdale in the previous season scoring 22, was sold to Bristol Rovers for £200,000. This transfer fee freed up wage money, and Parkin wasted no time adding three new players to his small squad. Former Torquay striker Morike Sako and defender James Sharp were signed on short term contracts and Keith Barker was in drafted in on loan from Blackburn Rovers.
Making their debut in the 1-1 draw with Hereford United, the new signings impressed and so started the best run of form this season for the Dale. This included the 5-0 demolition job at Darlington and the impressive 2-1 win at Wrexham AFC. Unfortunately the run of form was brought to an abrupt end by Lincoln City who embarrassed Rochdale 7-1. This was followed by a disappointing performance to local sides Stockport County and Bury.
After yet more poor performances by the Dale, and a run culminating in 8 wins from over 50 outings, Steve Parkin was sacked as Rochdale manager in December 2006, the Saturday after a 1-0 defeat to Hartlepool United. Keith Hill was quickly appointed as caretaker boss.
Rochdale subsequently gained 7 points for 4 matches under Hill's guidance, including to consecutive 4-0 victories (home to Boston United and away at Grimsby Town). On 3 January 2007, the board of directors then appointed Hill as the permanent manager until the end of the season
As of 3 January 2007, Rochdale are placed 19th in League Two.