Rough guide to... Rochdale

Cod Almighty | Article

by Tony Butcher

6 August 2007

Nobody is ever interested in Rochdale. Nothing ever happens. The groans of a disappointed life echo through the rusting ironwork. They are the mummified remains of olde football, where whippets and seagulls hang from the Main Stand, where flat caps roll forlornly across the players' tunnel like tumbleweed. Ah, but look a little closer, for something stirs and something tries and starts to climb towards the light...

Yesterday once more
For once the old Dalers found an exciting way to stand still. After their usual dreadful start (23rd with no wins in the first nine games) salvation arrived in the jelly-like form of Rodger's charity rockers, and so beginneth their season. Ish. They won 5-0 at Darlington, then a fortnight later lost 7-1 atLincoln. Out went Steve Parkin, in came Keith Hill as manager and things turned all bubbly, whereas previously they'd been squeaky.

It was Lincolnshire that done it. These Lancies love our Lincolnshire, for either side of the new year 4-0 wins against crooked Bust'un and a curiously limp Town set 'em off on a giddy ride across the skyline of the fourth division. The MK Mercenaries were ritually beheaded, slaughtered like the dogs they are. Phwoar, they stomped on the geraniums at Stockport. 7-2!

Twenty-first on Boxing day, they ended up ninth, just five points off the play-offs with a stonking +20 goal difference. Have their eyes stopped popping yet?

Hello goodbye
They're serious, they mean business, they're even spending money, yer actual cash, on footballers, not just washed-up old roofers and aspirational hairstyles fluent in conversational orange juice. Or Tony Gallimore. What a busy time they've had Everard. I counted them all in, and I counted them all out. I am the Count and I love to count! Here we go.

Into the groove: James Spencer (Stockport), Tom Kennedy (Bury), Tom Bates (Coventry), Adam Le Fondre (Stockport, but was on loan), Jerome Watt (Northampton), Ben Muirhead (a Bradford borrower last year), Kallum Higginbotham (Oldham) and Nathan Dairylea (captain of Man City's reserve team). Don't forget the young ball boys – they'll be Jumpin' Joe Thompson, Crazy Callum Warburton, Little Lloyd Rigby, Kindergarten Kyle Buckley and Cardboard Christian Bowden.

Out (and shaken all about): Not-bad-at-all goalie Matthew Gilks put a straw in his mouth and hitch-hiked to Norwich. Left-back Alan Goodall has followed the yellow brick road and wandered off into that pit of despair, Luton Town. While no-one was looking they shoved Mark Jackson and Clive Moyo-Modise in the back of an old Cavalier and dumped them in a lay-by between Walsden and Bottoms. They weren't recyclable you see, and these cowboys can't afford the charge down the local tip now they've gone all la-di-da and paid a transfer fee.

Infinity and beyond
If 1969 was one small step for Rochdale, 2008 may be one giant step, if we're being kind. Are we feeling kind? This could be it, this could the one. They'll score goals, and last season they didn't concede that many, in the end, ignoring the times they did. Never mind the quality; feel the width of their squad. They'll either be fifth or 20th, depending on their mood. They have vigour and vim to go with some organisational primness, which usually adds up to somewhere around the play-offs. They'll be this year'sShrewsbury, using the end-of-season ramp to leap like Evel Knievel across the Grand Canyon to sixth, after a little nervous wibble around the start of the new tax year. Those darn win bonuses add up to a lot of programmes and pies.

Don't worry Mr Chairman, they'll plunge down into the river below, failing in the play-offs. Open the parachute!