Rochdale A.F.C.

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Rochdale badge.png
Full nameRochdale Association Football Club
Nickname(s)The Dale
Founded1907; 113 years ago (1907)
GroundSpotland Stadium
ChairmanAndrew Kilpatrick
ManagerBrian Barry-Murphy
LeagueLeague One
2018–19League One, 15th of 24
WebsiteClub website
Current season

Rochdale Association Football Club is a professional football club based in the town of Rochdale, Greater Manchester, England. The club currently competes in League One, the third tier of the English football league system. Nicknamed 'the Dale', the club was founded in 1907, moved to its current stadium, Spotland Stadium, in 1920 and was accepted into the Football League in 1921. Since then, the club has remained in the third and fourth tiers of English football.

Rochdale's greatest achievement was reaching the League Cup final in 1961–62, finishing runners-up to Norwich City. The club attracts a small fan base, with a following of around 3,000 home fans on average per match.


Rochdale played 36 consecutive seasons in the Football League's bottom division from 1974 to 2010, the longest time any team has been in the bottom division of the League, with some even derisively calling it "the Rochdale Division".[2] The club has the lowest average position of all the clubs which have existed continuously in the Football League since its expansion to four divisions in 1921–22 (76th) and since its expansion to 92 clubs in 1950–51 (79th). Additionally, the club holds the distinction of having played the most seasons in the English Football League without either reaching the top two tiers (91 seasons as of 2018-19) or being relegated to the National League.

The club reached the League Cup Final in 1962. This was the first time a club from the bottom league division had reached the final of a major competition – where they lost to Norwich City.

During its history, the club has had three promotions and three relegations, with promotion coming in 1969 and 2010 and 2014 and relegation in 1959, 1974 and 2012. The 1959 relegation followed the 1958 restructuring which saw the combination of the two Third Division sections into the Third Division and Fourth Division. In the restructuring, Rochdale managed to secure a spot in the Third Division but was relegated at the end of the season to the now lowest Fourth Division.


refer to caption
A chart showing the progress of Rochdale through the English football league system from joining in 1907–08 to the present

Rochdale A.F.C. was formed in 1907.[3] After World War I the Football League was expanded and the club unsuccessfully applied to join. In 1921 Rochdale was recommended to be included in the new Third Division North, and played their first League game at home against Accrington Stanley on 27 August 1921, winning 6–3. However, this first season ended with the club at the bottom of the League, having to reapply for membership.

The club's first promotion came in 1969, earned by a team largely assembled by manager Bob Stokoe, though it was Stokoe's assistant, Len Richley who steered Rochdale to promotion after Stokoe moved to Carlisle United. In the early stages of the 1969–70 season, Rochdale topped the Third Division table, sparking hopes of a second successive promotion. The team's form significantly declined around Christmas 1969, however, and a failure to halt the team's decline led to the dismissal of Richley. He was succeeded by Dick Conner, who stabilised the club's form and steered them to a 9th-place finish. The following three seasons saw the club finish in the lower reaches of the Third Division table, narrowly avoiding relegation each time. The board viewed merely surviving in the Third Division as unacceptable and replaced Conner with Walter Joyce for the 1973–74 season. This move failed to pay off, and Rochdale was relegated after a campaign in which they won only 2 of 46 league games.

The club finished bottom of the league in 1977–78 but was successful in their bid for re-election. Southport, which had finished one place above Rochdale, was demoted instead and replaced by Wigan Athletic. Rochdale finished bottom for a second time in 1979–80, but was again re-elected – by one vote over Altrincham. In 1989–90 the club reached the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time but lost 1–0 to Crystal Palace.

Steve Parkin was appointed as manager in 1998, a period in which the success of the club improved significantly with the emergence of talented players such as Gary Jones, Clive Platt, Grant Holt and Kevin Townson.


Parkin left to take over at Barnsley in November 2001 with Rochdale second in the Third Division.[4] This gained him little popularity with the fans, especially when he took Gary Jones with him. John Hollins was appointed as his successor and the club finished the season in 5th place, entering the promotion play-offs where they lost to Rushden & Diamonds in the semi-final.

The club reached the fifth round of the FA Cup again the following season, but lost 3–1 at Wolves. Hollins was replaced by Paul Simpson in 2002, and Alan Buckley, appointed and sacked as manager in 2003. Parkin then returned to the club as manager, until being sacked in December 2006.

Parkin's replacement, Keith Hill, who was initially appointed as caretaker manager, became arguably the club's most successful manager to date. Hill and his assistant manager David Flitcroft led Rochdale to a 5th-place finish in 2007–08, securing a play-off place. After beating Darlington 5–4 on penalties in the semi-final, Rochdale reached Wembley for the first time in their history. Despite taking the lead in the match, they lost the final 3–2 to Stockport County.

In the 2008–09 season, Rochdale reached the League Two playoffs for the second consecutive season, finishing 6th in the table on 70 points. Season 2009–10 ended a 41-year wait for promotion with a win over Northampton Town as Rochdale secured the third automatic promotion spot. Rochdale continued their progression under Keith Hill, now with the club for 3 years, with a secured spot in League One in 2010–11. In 2010–11 Rochdale finished 9th in league one with 68 points, equalling their highest league finish since 1969–70.


Rochdale players Joe Bunney, Peter Vincenti, Matty Lund and Donal McDermott line-up in a wall against Blackburn Rovers in July 2015

On 1 June 2011 manager Keith Hill joined Championship club Barnsley. Former Manchester City apprentice and youth coach Steve Eyre was confirmed as Hill's replacement on 12 June 2011. Eyre's spell at Spotland did not last long, as he was sacked after 27 competitive games in charge, the team having recorded just 4 league wins in this time. Eyre's last game was a 0–0 draw against Yeovil, in which Yeovil's keeper Rene Gilmartin played the second half with a dislocated finger. Director of youth Chris Beech was then appointed as caretaker manager. Under Beech's first game in charge, the team drew 1–1 with Preston North End with an equaliser from Daniel Bogdanović who scored on his debut. Beech's 5 games in charge ended with a 5–1 defeat by Stevenage and a 3–0 defeat to bottom of league Wycombe Wanderers.

On 24 January 2012, Accrington Stanley's John Coleman was confirmed manager as the successor to Steve Eyre and left his club where he had been for more than a decade. John Coleman's first match in charge was a 3–0 win at home over Bury in the local derby. However, on 21 April, Rochdale lost 2–1 to Chesterfield resulting in relegation from League One after two years in the league. John Coleman's and Jimmy Bell's contracts were terminated by Rochdale on 21 January 2013 following a poor run in form.[5] In January 2013, Keith Hill, previously in charge of Rochdale from 2007 to 2011, was appointed as the new manager.[6]

Rochdale were promoted to League One on 26 April 2014, after beating Cheltenham Town 2–0.[7] Playing at the club's highest level the 2014–15 season was the club's most successful yet. Apart from a couple of games, they remained in the top half of the league all season, eventually finishing in 8th place, their highest league placing. Notable results were a 2–1 win away to Bradford City and home wins against Preston North End and Chesterfield. The club reached the fourth round of the FA Cup, and despite being eliminated by Premier League opposition, remained in contention for promotion to the Championship.


Rochdale has participated in the Football League play-offs on three occasions. In 2002, they lost 4–3 on aggregate to Rushden & Diamonds. In 2008, they went through to Wembley Stadium, defeating Darlington in the semi-final 5–4 on penalties after a 3–3 draw after extra-time over two legs. Ben Muirhead scored the crucial penalty for Rochdale. However, despite scoring the first goal at the Wembley final, Rochdale suffered a 3–2 loss to Stockport County. In 2009, Rochdale lost 2–1 on aggregate to Gillingham in the playoff semi-finals.[8]

Club badge and colours[edit]

Rochdale home colours used until the 2006–07 season

The club crest used by Rochdale AFC focuses on a variant of the arms of the former County Borough of Rochdale. The coat of arms, based on those of the local and reputed Rochdale family with certain additions, was granted to the Borough by Herald's College in 1857. At its centre, a shield shows a sack of wool and a cotton plant, representing the local wool and cotton industries. Around the edge of the shield sit eight martlets (birds). These are taken from the Rochdale family coat of arms (mentioned above) and are widely used on heraldic devices. Above the shield and helm (in the position technically known as the "crest" in heraldry) more local industry representations are made by the inclusion of a fleece of wool (suspended by a band) and the iron centre of an old mill-stone (known as a mill-rind).

A motto below the shield reads Crede Signo. Roughly translated, this means "Believe in the sign". The blazon (official heraldic description) for the arms reads as follows: "Argent a woolpack encircled by two branches of the cotton tree flowered and conjoint proper; a bordure sable charged with eight martlets of the field; and for a crest on a wreath of the colours a mill-rind sable and above a fleece argent banded or."

When Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council was formed in 1974 (taking over from Rochdale County Borough Council and five other borough/urban district councils), a new coat of arms was created and awarded for council use. Rochdale A.F.C., however, continued (and continues today) to adopt the old Rochdale County Borough arms.

Rochdale's current home colours are black and blue shirts, white shorts and blue and black hooped socks. Previously, Rochdale's usual colours were blue and white, introduced in 1949. Prior to this, Rochdale wore black and white stripes, which was influenced by the strong Newcastle United side of 1907 (the year Rochdale was formed), the stripe which they adopted for their centenary season in 2007.

Rochdale's centenary kit, used in the 2007–08 season.

This black and white kit was re-introduced in the 2007–08 season as the one-off centenary kit; the new Internazionale-influenced design which succeeded it was an amalgamation of the striped kit and the blue kit to herald the second century of Rochdale's existence. Between 2010 and 2012 Rochdale's shirts were predominantly blue with black pinstripes on the body and black sleeves.

Rochdale's away kit comprises white shirts with a purple stripe, purple shorts and purple and white hooped socks. Other historical away kits have included yellow, teal, green and red. Other kits have included white shirts with black shorts, white shirts with blue shorts and a blue shirt with white sleeves.

Kit manufacturers and shirt sponsors[edit]

Rochdale has had sponsored shirts since 1983. Former sponsors include Carcraft, MMC Estates, All-in-One Garden Centre, Smith Metals, Keytech,, Cabrini and the Co-operative. On 28 May 2013, Crown Oil Ltd was unveiled as the club's new principal sponsor.

It was announced in June 2009 that the kit supplier for the next three seasons would be Carbrini.

From 2012–2015 Rochdale's kit was supplied by Fila.

On 25 April 2015, Rochdale revealed Erreà as their new supplier.[9]


Rochdale plays their home matches at Spotland Stadium (known locally as just Spotland and currently known as the Crown Oil Arena for sponsorship reasons), which has a capacity of 10,249. The stadium was officially opened in 1920, and for the first 68 years of its existence, it was used exclusively by Rochdale. In 1988 – 2016 the ground was jointly owned by the football club, Rochdale Council and Rochdale Hornets the rugby football league association. In 2016 Rochdale A.F.C. bought the stadium shares they did not hold to own 100% of Spotland Stadium. At the same time, the stadium received its new sponsored name The Crown Oil Arena as a result of a sponsorship agreement between Rochdale AFC and its first stadium sponsor.

The ground has four stands: the Co-Operative Stand (or Main Stand), the Thwaites Beer Stand (the Sandy Lane End), the T.D.S Stand (Pearl Street end) and the Westrose Leisure Stand (the Willbutts Lane Stand). All are fully seated, apart from the Sandy Lane End, which is a small terrace behind one of the goals.

Apart from local football and rugby league, Spotland has in the past been used to host minor nations' rugby league matches, such as British Amateur Rugby League Association (British Amateur Rugby League Association) matches, and also the National League Cup finals of 2003 and 2004.

Spotland Stadium was selected as a venue for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, hosting a match between Fiji and Ireland. This was the first time that Rochdale had staged an event in a World Cup in any sport. The event was almost sold out with almost 9,000 people[10] attending, setting what was incorrectly claimed to be a new stadium record. Rochdale had 24,231 for an FA Cup tie vs Notts County in December 1949 and three higher crowds for FA Cup and play-off games between 1990 and 2008 against Northampton Town, Coventry City and Darlington.

In August 2016, Rochdale A.F.C. renamed Spotland Stadium as the Crown Oil Arena as part of a sponsorship deal by the Bury-based fuel company Crown Oil.[11]


Rochdale have a number of rivalries with local and non-local clubs. The club's main rivals are Bury and Oldham Athletic. Bury, after Oldham, are the closest Football League club to Rochdale, and the fixture is also known as the M66 Derby. Although a more recently revived rivalry after a number of years in different divisions, games with Oldham Athletic are arguably every bit as intense as those with Bury.

Rochdale's other significant rivalries have been with Halifax Town, Stockport County, Burnley, Wigan Athletic, Bolton Wanderers and Accrington Stanley.


Current squad[edit]

As of 10 October 2019[12]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 England GK Josh Lillis
2 Northern Ireland DF Ryan McLaughlin
3 Wales DF Rhys Norrington-Davies (on loan from Sheffield United)
4 Scotland DF Jimmy McNulty
6 Republic of Ireland DF Eoghan O'Connell
7 Northern Ireland MF Stephen Dooley
8 Wales MF Jordan Williams
9 England FW Calvin Andrew
10 Northern Ireland MF Callum Camps
12 England GK Jay Lynch
13 Republic of Ireland MF Jimmy Keohane
14 England MF Oliver Rathbone
15 Republic of Ireland DF Paul McShane
16 England MF Matt Done
No. Position Player
18 England FW Aaron Wilbraham
20 Republic of Ireland MF Jimmy Ryan
21 England DF Tyler Magloire (on loan from Blackburn Rovers)
22 England FW Kwadwo Baah
25 Spain GK Robert Sánchez (on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion)
28 England MF Aaron Morley
35 England MF Lewis Bradley
36 England FW Matty Gillam
37 England FW Fabio Tavares
38 England MF Harrison Hopper
40 England FW Ian Henderson
41 England DF Luke Matheson
England FW Tyler Smith (on loan from Sheffield United)

Out on loan[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
31 England GK Brad Wade (at Barrow until 29 November 2019)

Former players[edit]

Club officials[edit]

Board of directors
Position Name
Chairman Andrew Kilpatrick
Director David Bottomley
Director Andrew Kelly
Director Tony Pockney
Non-Executive Director John Smallwood
Executive Directors Frances Fielding
Life Vice Presidents James Marsh, Rod Brierley, David Kilpatrick, Graham Morris, Mrs Norma Jenkins, Trevor Butterworth
Corporate management
Position Name
Chief Executive Officer David Bottomley
Club Secretary John Smallwood
Office Manager Jan Marsh
Sales & Marketing Manager Frances Fielding
Finance Manager Jeannette Bond
Retail Manager David Smith Markl
Lotteries Manager Ray Parry
Team management
Position Name
Manager Brian Barry-Murphy
Assistant Manager Vacant
Goalkeeping coach Vacant
Fitness coach Kevin Gibbins
Academy Team Manager Tony Ellis
Physio Andy Thorpe
Performance Analyst Callum Jones

Managerial history[edit]





Club records[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Time to escape the 'Rochdale Division'". Rochdale Observer. 5 August 2005. Archived from the original on 21 May 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Club History – 'Did you know?' sub-section". Rochdale AFC. 13 August 2009. Archived from the original on 27 July 2010. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  4. ^ "Parkin takes the reins at Barnsley". The Daily Telegraph. 9 November 2001.
  5. ^ "Club Statement". Rochdale AFC. 21 January 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  6. ^ "Keith Hill: Rochdale return for former Barnsley manager". BBC Sport. 22 January 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Rochdale secured promotion to League One with victory over Cheltenham". BBC. 26 April 2014. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  8. ^ "What is Rochdale's playoff record in the English football league?". England football league play-offs. Answers to Questions and Information. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  9. ^ "Errea Revealed As New Kit Supplier". Rochdale A.F.C. 25 April 2015.
  10. ^ "Rugby League World Cup 2013: Fiji 32–14 Ireland". BBC Sport. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  11. ^ "Rochdale rename Spotland as part of new record-breaking sponsorship deal". Manchester Evening News. 8 August 2016. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  12. ^ "Profiles". Rochdale A.F.C. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  13. ^ "Lincoln City – Paul Connor to Prove a Point". Vital Football.

External links[edit]