Rochdale AFC – Spotland

40Right ladies and gentlemen. Before we get started – may I just ask you to turn off your mobile phones? No, I don’t mean put them on silent! I mean turn them off! Better still, leave them in your cars. They’re not allowed in Spotland. You may think I’m joking? Well I shall soon prove you wrong folks…

Danny and Gary have always rattled on at me about the importance of the Rochdale v Bury fixture. How could I possibly turn down the opportunity of going to this massive local derby? The meeting of the two teams earlier on in the season ended in a 4-2 victory for Dale.

A price of £15 was steep for an Under-16 ticket. However, I was expecting a ridiculous price like that due to the rivalry. Luckily for me Danny paid for my ticket as I had recently bought us Two Door Cinema Club tickets! – who ironically were played over the tannoy system pre match.

As usual for a Bury away game – I was picked up from the top of my street at 13:05, and we set off on the short 20 mile journey to Spotland. We took a rather scenic route which made a nice change. We arrived at 13:55 and parked just over the road from the ground.

It had snowed in Rochdale the night previously, so with that in mind we skated out of the car and somehow found our way over the road without being run over.

We noticed a group of Rochdale fans gathered outside a row of terraced housing. We crossed the road, and on further inspection we discovered it was Willbutts Lane Chippy. I ordered a Steak Pie and Chips for a very reasonable price, furthermore – The Chips were FANTASTIC!

Whilst munching on my well deserved snack we ventured around Spotland. There weren’t too many fans around – In fact… I think there were more police than home supporters! Hardly surprising as Rochdale were obviously out to get the away fans from the outset.

It was John Colemans first match in charge of Dale since he made his shock move from League 2 outfit Accrington Stanley. Coleman had been at Stanley for 13 years before he took the vacant managers position at Spotland. We all know that the merchandise department of the club always like to cash in on momentous occasions such as this – so when I was walking past the shop I was not even surprised to see tat like this hanging in the window.

I purchased a matchday programme, and it was alright to be honest. Although the photo of John Coleman and his assistant manager Jimmy Ball appeared to look like an advertisement for the next Shrek movie.

Our circuit around the block was complete, and we were soon ready to enter the away end, and what a pathetic excuse for an away end it is. The stewards seemed more fixed on running the away end like an army barracks. We met up with Gary and Dannys Grandad inside, and we then walked into the seating area to find a suitable perch. Unreserved seating was in operation – which would later cause a nightmare for our friends in orange.

Before my visit to Spotland I had a look on Rochdales’ official website to see what the ground was like, and this is what they proclaim about their club –

“You are always guaranteed a warm welcome at Spotland. Rochdale AFC offers one of the best matchday experiences in the divsion. The facilities and hospitality are second to none, as voted by various publications and football ground guides.”

Within 10 seconds of me introducing a camera to the town of Rochdale, all hell broke loose. Three stewards came running up the stairs towards me, demanding that I hand over my camera. Despite the fact I said – “I’m only taking photos of the stands!” – They weren’t having it, and advised me to take my camera back to the car. After arguing for a couple of minutes, during which they threatened to get the police involved; they finally agreed to leave me alone, as long as I kept my camera in my bag.

Plan B – I’ll use my phone to take photos for this blog. WAIT JOSEPH! Are you sure this is a sensible idea? You know, the people of Rochdale may not understand that mobile phones are capable of taking photos these days. Despite this possibility, I plodded on with my photography. BANG! Steward number 16 ran up the stairs demanding my phone off me! I left this one with Danny, who used some colourful language towards the bloke before we went back on to the concourses.

I took off my colourful cardigan, and shoved a spare t-shirt on. The stewards wouldn’t recognise me then.

After having a good bitch about the stewards and the club in general, we walked up the stand and sat in a completely different part where the stewards couldn’t see me. What made the whole situation even more pathetic was the fact stewards were now congregated in the part of the stand where Danny and I were more than 20 minutes ago.

We chose to sit right in the middle of the Willbutts Lane Stand. This stand can hold 3,650 away supporters and was constructed in 2001.

Opposite was the Main Stand. This stand can house 1,774 home supporters, as well as having 12 executives boxes – which Rochdale FC claim are “very popular with local businesses”. Also found in this stand are players facilities and dugouts.

To my left was The TDS Stand. Opened by the legend Sir. Nat Lofthouse in 1997 it holds 2,584 vocal home supporters.

The only standing section at Spotland is The Sandy Lane Stand. This stand has room for 1,898 home fans.

As kick off approached it appeared that Rochdale had once again looked to cash in on the Bury fixture, and had let in too many Bury fans. Rather than refusing them entrance, or shoving them in another part of the ground, the stewards decided to parade them up and down the front of the stand for 10 minutes.

The teams came out, and you could feel through the atmosphere created how much this match meant to both sets of supporters. However, as is football, one set would be going home far happier than the other – unfortunately for us, it was Rochdale who won. I think Bury fans could have just about taken a defeat if the players actually tried; but it was embarassing.

Despite being bottom of the league Rochdale bombarded Bury with chances, and the first of those came in the first 30 seconds when Gary Jones tested Bury goalkeeper Cameron Belford. Belford did very well to tip Jones’ curling effort around the left upright.

Rochdale had another great chance when former Shakers favourite Nicky Adams crossed the ball into the area where Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro connected well to fire the ball towards goal. However, Belford was equal to the shot again.

Dale took a well deserved lead on 15 minutes. Callamitous defending from Bury allowed Gary Jones a free header at goal. His header was parried away by Belford, but that only resulted in the ball being given to Akpa Akpro who duly smashed the ball into the back of the net from close range.

Bury finally got out of their own half to mount an attack on 26 minutes. Captain Steven Schumacher passed the ball to Peter Sweeney who then had a shot from just outside the area. Hungarian goalkeeper Peter Kurucz tipped the ball out for a corner. The resulting set piece fell to Efe Sodje who headed well wide.

Referee Scott Mathieson somehow missed Joe Widdowson blatantly trip Bury striker David Amoo in the box, much to the anger of the animated away fans. Liverpool loanee Amoo contested the decision momentarily before being told to go away by the referee.

The home side doubled their lead just three minutes later when Adams crossed into Ashley Grimes who finished well past the helpless Belford.

Half time soon arrived, and it was time to try and sneak a photo of myself in Spotland. We walked down to the front of the stand where I kid you not, a steward told us to “Get away from the wall! Move back nearer the seats!”. I was getting totally fed up with these imbeciles. I bet I wouldn’t have this problem if I was in the home end.

The second half kicked off, and it was the same old story. Bury looked completely disinterested, and nobody showed this more than their captain Steven Schumacher. He was dreadful, and should have opted to substitute himself for the good of the team.

It wasn’t long before Dale added another goal to their tally. Yet again the cross was supplied from the instrumental Adams! Nobody in the Bury defence reacted, and Ashley Grimes slotted the ball past Belford. After that it was a game of damage limitation for the away side.

Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro nearly grabbed himself a second on 62 minutes when another former Shaker; Brian Barry-Murphy sent in a corner. Akpa Akpro composed himself and connected well with the ball with a bicycle kick. I almost wanted the ball to end up in the back of the net as it would have been a fantastic finish.

On 83 minutes the legend arrived on the pitch; Brett Ormerod! Rochdale had signed him on a 28 day loan from Blackpool. Despite the fact he didn’t do much, it was still great to see him on the pitch at the grand old age of 74.

The match finished 3-0, and Bury were booed off, and rightly so. I don’t usually agree with booing your own team. However, I do agree with booing on an occasion such as this where the fans have paid a lot of money to get in. Where the fans have travelled in numbers. Where the fans have nearly had their cameras and phones confiscated. I could go on, and on really.

I may consider going back to Rochdale again sometime – in the home end so that I can do a proper blog entry. It wasn’t a pleasent experience, and as a result I sincerely hope the club get relegated into League Two.

  • DISTANCE TRAVELLED TO GROUND: 20 miles
  • ADMISSION: 
  • PROGRAMME PRICE: £3

Willbutts Lane on the left
Rochdale FC – Spotland – Willbutts Lane
Horses on Willbutts Lane
Willbutts Lane Chippy
Rear of The TDS Stand
Sandy Lane Stand – Looking from the TDS Stand
Willbutts Lane Stand
Rear of The Main Stand
Sandy Lane Stand
Rear of the Sandy Lane Stand
Rear of the Sandy Lane Stand
The TDS Stand
The Sandy Lane Stand
The Main Stand
Steak Pie and Chips – Must have purchase! (Willbutts Lane Chippy)
Me sneaking a quick photo inside Spotland
Match Action
Match Action
Yes, of course I meant the photo to turn out like this!
Full time

The following photo was taken from Bury FC’s Official Facebook page:

The Bury fans in The Willbutts Lane End – I’m sat just under the gantry

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4 thoughts on “Rochdale AFC – Spotland

  1. Excellent report. I am a Wycombe fan, always enjoy going to Dale for the Rag pudding, peas and chips. Always found them to be friendly club. Only place I have had an issue with pics is at Barnsley – they made me take my camera back to the coach for taking pre match pictures of the ground and I had great difficulty convincing the steward on the gate that I had already paid when I tried to get back in. Read my site at http://www.wycombewanderer.eu

  2. Rochdale’s stewards have always been absolute, you know. They treat Bradford fans like absolute garbage. Only decent one I’ve come across was the one next to me & Ben during the pre-season friendly there a few years back.

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