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|Full name||Rochdale Hornets RLFC
Rugby Football League Club
Industrial & Provident Society Limited
|Competition||Kingstone Press League 1 (from 2015)|
|2014 RFL Championship||12th|
Rochdale Hornets RLFC is an English professional rugby league club from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, England. From 2015, Hornets will compete in the re-structured Kingstone Press League 1, the third tier of European rugby league (behind the Super League and Kingstone Press Championship)[clarification needed]. Rochdale Hornets is also one of the original twenty-two rugby clubs that formed the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895, making them one of the world's first rugby league clubs. Rochdale Hornets beat local rivals Oldham 32–18 in 2013 Championship 1 playoff final at Leigh Sports Village. The club has a strong relationship with Super League side St Helens RLFC.
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Early years – the 19th century
A Rochdale Athletic Club was formed in 1866 and held its first festival on the cricket ground at Merefield. Rugby football first took place as an organised game about 1866 or 1867, when the Rochdale Football Club was formed by a magistrate and numerous business owners and self-employed men. Within a year they were all playing alongside new members when working class men were allowed to join as well. Other clubs quickly followed, among them Rochdale Wasps and Rochdale Juniors.
In 1871, Rochdale Juniors and Rakebank merged to form Rochdale United. On 20 April 1871, the directors of Rochdale Wasps, Rochdale United and Rochdale Football Club met at the Roebuck Hotel in the town centre to form a senior team that would represent the town. Rochdale Wasps. Rochdale Butterflies and Rochdale Grasshoppers were suggested as names for the new club before Rochdale Hornets was agreed on. The original team colours were amber and black.
In 1875, Hornets played at Mr R. Kershaw's Athletic Grounds in Vavasour Street, and later at the Rochdale Cricket Ground. The club very quickly took a leading position in the game in Lancashire. Hornets had an open door approach to membership and were able to insist on gate money as they played on an enclosed field.
In June 1879, Rochdale Rovers threw in their lot with the Hornets, and it was in this year that the club first adopted the white jersey. A ground was taken at Oakenrod for the 1879–1880 season but owing to poor gates, Rochdale Hornets returned to the Rochdale Cricket Club ground.
In 1881 no fewer than 57 rugby clubs played in Rochdale and district, fielding 80 teams regularly. By the 1890s, the players were almost all working class.
Rochdale moved to the Athletic Grounds in Milnrow Road, which opened on 9 June 1894. Their first game at their new home took place in September 1894 against Crompton.
They were founder members of the Northern Union in 1895. Hornets made a poor start under the new regime and finished bottom of the league table, for a good number of years they lost many more matches than they won.
Early 20th century
They became tenants of the Athletics Grounds in 1900. Between the 7–9 March 1901, a three-day bazaar was held at the town hall where around £1,000 was raised to help pay for the club's debts. Incidents from the game played on 22 March 1901 resulted in the ground being suspended by the Northern Union.
The players went on strike on 29 March 1902 as empty coffers meant that they went unpaid.
Rochdale purchased the Athletics Grounds in 1913. Hornets won the Lancashire County Cup in 1911 and 1914. Between 10 October 1914 and 6 March 1915, Hornets played 25 games without defeat, shortly after this streak was broken by a defeat to Wigan but they would finish fourth in the table. Hornets beat Broughton Moor 75–13 in a cup-tie on 13 March 1915; it was their biggest margin of victory since 1871. Twenty-five Rochdale players enlisted for the First World War, one of whom, Sergeant Twigg, was killed.
Rugby League came back to Rochdale following the Great War on Christmas Day 1918 when Rochdale played a friendly game. In the half-season of the spring of 1919, Rochdale Hornets not only won the Lancashire League but also carried off the Lancashire County Cup.
Rochdale's biggest win against a senior club came on 27 March 1920 when Wakefield Trinity were beaten 64-nil.
The annual Law Cup, then known as the Infirmaries' Cup, was first contested against neighbours Oldham on 7 May 1921. Hornets played six games in a fortnight before falling to their biggest ever defeat 79–2 at the hands of Hull. Hornets changed their colours from green and black to red, white and blue as the green and black strip was deteriorating in the wash.
The club's record attendance was set at 26,664 in 1922 when Oldham were the visitors for a third round Challenge Cup match. Hornets won the Northern Union Challenge Cup in 1922 by beating Hull 10–9 at Headingley, Leeds. That was Hornets' one and only Challenge Cup final. Due to the ferocity of their play, their pack of forwards was known as "the Terrible Six".
Hornets were formed into a limited company on 31 May 1929.
On 4 October 1930, Stanley Baldwin, Hornets' winger was fatally injured during a match with Oldham.
Owing to a financial crisis in 1931, the Athletic Ground was offered for sale and all the players put on the transfer list. A fire destroyed the stadium's main stand, dressing rooms and offices on 18 September 1935. A new stand, built over the ashes of the old, was opened on Saturday 7 March 1936 for the match against Liverpool Stanley. Another financial crisis in 1938 led to further talks about selling the ground and a further crisis in 1939 resulted in the creation of a members' club.
Hornets dropped out of the wartime Lancashire League, their last match a 12–4 defeat against Salford at the Athletic Grounds on 11 May 1940.
An appeal went out to supporters in July 1945 for help in renovating the ground, pitch and premises so that rugby league could restart at the Athletic Grounds after the war. On 25 August 1945, Hornets resumed with an away game at Craven Park, Barrow which they lost 5–14. The first Infirmaries' Cup game since 1938 was played at the Athletic Grounds on 24 August 1946, in which Hornets were beaten by Oldham.
On 29 March 1947, Hornets ended a run of 14 consecutive defeats with a 3–0 home win over Halifax. Hornets played in green and black for the first time in 26 years on 13 December 1947 in a match against Wigan. Thereafter they used the colours as a change strip in the event of a colour clash.
In 1947 and 1958, Rochdale Hornets made it to the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup, but both times Wigan ended their hopes of a Wembley final.
On 24 October 1953, Hornets' second row Ralph Slater was fatally injured in an A-team game at the Athletic Grounds against Oldham A.
Rochdale's highest attendance in a league match was set on Saturday, 16 October 1954 when Hornets lost 4–18 to local rivals Oldham in front of 19,654 spectators. Hornets played their first game at Spotland in 1954 when a one-off game against Keighley was played there.
Rochdale Hornets brought in a Fijian contingent in the early 1960s, notably Apisai Toga.
Frank Myler arrived at Hornets in May 1971 to take up the position of player-coach with the Rochdale Hornets from May 1971. They reached a Players No 6 Final in 1974. Myler left Hornets in October 1974.
Kel Coslett was coach between 1976 and 1979.
1980s and early 1990s
In the 1980s, things took a turn for the worse with the crowds virtually disappearing.
Eric Hughes coached Rochdale for the 1987/88 season. In 1987 both Rochdale Hornets and Rochdale A.F.C. were in financial trouble. Hornets were banned from signing players in November after failing to pay a transfer fee. Deep in debt, Rochdale accepted Morrisons £2.7m offer for the Athletic Grounds and following the sale of the land, moved to Rochdale A.F.C.'s stadium in the Spotland area of the town at the end of the 1988 season. The stadium became jointly owned by Hornets, Rochdale Council and Rochdale A.F.C.. In October 1988, Rochdale were saved by the local council with a £60,000 loan.
In 1989, Hornets were promoted from the Second Division to the top tier. The club's record attendance at Spotland was set at 8,150 when Hornets played Oldham on Boxing Day 1989.
In September 1990, Neil Holding briefly coached Hornets.
In 1991, Hornets appeared in the final of the Lancashire Cup.
On 9 May 1996, Rochdale sacked their coach, Steve Gibson, after taking just one point from their first six games of the First Division season.
Deryck Fox became player-coach in May 1998, and made an immediate impact. A ten-match losing sequence was ended as Hornets won at Featherstone Rovers in Fox's first match in charge. However, Hornets ended that 1998 campaign in next to bottom position in Division One.
In October 1998, Karl Marriott died following a training session and a couple of months later Roy Powell died in similar circumstances. Hornets struggled early in the campaign when they occupied bottom spot for a couple of weeks. They recovered slightly and had moved up to 15th position, fourth bottom, by late June.
On Wednesday, 30 June 1999, it was announced that Deryck Fox was no longer Rochdale's coach. During his thirteen months as Hornets' coach, the club played 38 matches. They won 12, drew one and lost the remaining twenty-five. Bob Eccles took over as caretaker coach.
Martin Hall took up the position of coach at Rochdale Hornets in November 2000. He stepped in after the shock resignation of Steve Deakin who returned to Keighley after a few months in charge. He took Rochdale to two consecutive third-place finishes in the Northern Ford Premiership. Hall departed along with all the players after not renewing his contract after his failed bid to take over the club.
Bobbie Goulding arrived as player-coach in December 2003. He was in charge of Rochdale Hornets for two seasons, twice being nominated for coach of the year. He left in November 2005, citing frustration at the club's financial problems and his lack of a proper contract.
On 13 March 2005, Hornets set an all-time Rugby League record when they defeated the amateur side Illingworth 120–4 in the Challenge Cup. This is the highest score ever achieved by a team in the cup. The biggest winning margin is still that of Huddersfield, who beat the amateur side Swinton Park 119–2 in 1914.
Darren Abram was appointed head coach two weeks later. Abram was dismissed on 9 July 2007 after a run of defeats which left the club facing relegation. Shaun Gartland was placed in temporary charge.
Bobbie Goulding was appointed as Rochdale Hornets coach for the second time in September 2007 and relieved of his duties in May 2008 after a run of six consecutive losses.
On 13 January 2009, shareholders voted to put Rochdale Hornets into administration after debts ordered by HM Revenue and Customs accumulated £55,000. An Industrial and Provident Society (a co-operative) was created and recognised by the Rugby Football League, and the Hornets were re-founded. The co-operative was initially created around a core of loyal fans, and membership is open to all. The co-op operates on a one-member, one-vote principle.
Darren Shaw departed the club at the end of the 2009 season and was replaced by Ex St Helens player John Stankevitch in early November 2009.
Stankevitch was given the difficult task of recruiting a competitive squad of players from those available that had not already been recruited elsewhere and a slow start to the 2010 Northern Rail Cup followed.
However, the club went on to exceed all expectations and finish 5th in the table giving them a play-off position for the first time in years. The team were eventually eliminated in the semi finals of the competition.
Stankevitch signed a new contract in July 2010 in preparation for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, and began the club's re-emergence with the recontracting of the majority of his squad.
- Frank Myler (May 1971 – October 1974)
- Graham Starkey (October 1974 – November 1975)
- Henry Delooze (November 1975 – November 1976)
- Kel Coslett (November 1976 – August 1979)
- Paul Longstaff (September 1979 – May 1981)
- Terry Fogerty (May 1981 – January 1982)
- Dick Bonser (January 1982 – May 1982)
- Bill Kirkbride (June 1982 – September 1984)
- Charlie Birdsall (September 1984 – April 1986)
- Eric Fitzsimons (June 1986 – June 1987)
- Eric Hughes (June 1987 – June 1988)
- Jim Crellin (June 1988 – June 1989)
- Allan Agar (July 1989 – January 1991)
- Brian Juliff – Allan Agar's assistant 1 game in January 1991 (42–0 at Castleford)
- Neil Holding (January 1991 – April 1991)
- Stan Gittins (April 1991 – January 1993)
- Peter Regan (January 1993 – October 1993)
- Steve Gibson (October 1993 – May 1996)
- Shane Tupaea (May 1996 – April 1998)
- Deryck Fox (May 1998 – June 1999)
- Bob Eccles
- Steve Linnane (December 1999 – June 2000)
- Steve Deakin (August 2000 – October 2000)
- Martin Hall (November 2000 – November 2003)
- Bobbie Goulding (December 2003 – November 2005)
- Darren Abram (November 2005 – July 2007)
- Shaun Gartland (July 2007 – September 2007)
- Bobbie Goulding (September 2007 – May 2008)
- Darren Shaw (May 2008 – October 2009)
- John Stankevitch (October 2009 – October 2012)
- Ian Talbot (October 2012–Present)
The Law Cup
The Law Cup is an annual match between Oldham and Rochdale Hornets, first contested on 7 May 1921. Including the 2008 fixture, Oldham have won 36 to Rochdale's 22 with 3 drawn games.
* Announced on 23 November 2014:
|Anthony Walker||St Helens||Dual Reg||April 2015|
|Sam Brooks||Whitehaven RLFC||2 Years||April 2015|
Players earning international caps while at Rochdale Hornets
Other notable players
These players have either; played in a Challenge Cup, or Lancashire Cup final, or played in Lancashire League winning teams, received a Testimonial match, are Hall of Fame Inductees, were international representatives before, or after, their time at Rochdale Hornets, or are notable outside of rugby league.
- "Rochdale Hornets Rugby League : Onward Hornets Onward". Rochdalehornets.com. 14 March 2005. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- [dead link]
- "Hornets voted into administration". BBC News. 13 January 2009.
- "Rochdale Hornets Rugby League : Onward Hornets Onward". Rochdalehornets.com. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- "Rugby League World Cup 2013 – RLWC.com | Facebook". Rugbyleague.org. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- " ... and win at Crystal Palace". rugbyleague.org. 31 December 2008. Retrieved 1 January 2009.
- Sporting memories from the Rochdale Observer 17 September 2004
- Official club website
- Hornets centenary booklet
- National League website
- Hornets forum on rlfans.com
- Hornets Fans Forums – RugbyLeague.org
- Ray French selects his top 10 Challenge Cup final shocks. No 7: 1922, Rochdale 10–9 Hull