It’s make or break day for our season so far. After spending a delightful year away from Bury, we face them again today only this time in League One . Dale have started poorly thus far, and are still looking for their first 3 points of the season but what better place than Gigg Lane to record them? However, within all this nervous anticipation, I’ve found good reason to look back over my time as a Dale fan, most of it through the gaps in my fingers, with a mixture of tear-inducing pride, air punching ecstacy and a slight sense of nausea regarding the Buckley era. Anyway, here we go.
My First game… Vs Swansea at home in 1998.. A bore 0-0 draw. I’d been to plenty of matches elsewhere, all of which were of better quality and much more entertaining, but there was something magical about The Dale. In the final few seconds, Neil Edwards made one of the greatest saves I’ve ever seen and from then on in, as the cliché goes, I was very much hooked.
My Best moment… Promotion to League One. It was just everything everyone connected with Rochdale AFC ever wanted. We stood around the touchline waiting for the final whistle and as it blew, I’ve never seen more pure emotion involved with football. People were in tears on the pitch, lifting the likes of Craig Dawson onto their shoulders and carrying them , a lad who just months earlier was on the pitch celebrating us getting to Wembley with the very same players he had just helped to promotion. The sort of stuff dreams are made of.
My Worse moment… I am tempted to say the play-off defeat at Wembley against Stockport, but I won’t, because there is a moment where I felt worse. On a cold December night we travelled to win-less Macclesfield, managed by Paul Ince, on a terrible run of form. They had a player sent off early on and to be frank, were a really poor side, we ought to have won 3 or 4-0. We lost 1-0, failed to get one shot on target and I sat in the cold rain, contemplating just exactly what I was doing with my life. It led to the sacking of the manager which in turn led to Keith Hills promotion to the hot-seat and the best three years the club have ever experienced.
My favourite player… There are so many players that could contest for this here imaginary accolade, such as club legend Gary Jones, or super strikers like Glenn Murray, Ricky Lambert or Grant Holt, but for me simply for his outstanding footballing talent and the fact he clearly loved the club, Craig Dawson deserves to be lauded as one of the best to have ever pulled on our clubs shirt. Has since moved to West Brom and will no doubt become a quality Premier League player.
Of course, there are a billion other things I could say about Rochdale AFC. Hundreds of moments that have turned into memories that always induce a smile or a frown and shake of the head, and I am sure there will be many many more, because that’s the beauty of being a football fan. You support your team through thick and thin, knowing that win lose or draw, you will be there. Memories will come, good times and bad times. But be proud, be optimistic, be Rochdale.
Thanks for reading,