Coca Cola League Two
Disappointingly, Spotland isn’t half as singular as its name (which derives from its neighbourhood). In fact, the ground is so plain it could almost be complete new build. Three of the stands are very similar, each with a facia in blue (but not the shade of the team colours) and, equally curiously, no club name emblazoned on them. The only feature which reflects tradition are the tower floodlights (dating back merely to 1992, as it happens) in each corner which reminded me of those halcyon days at Elm Park. The feel of the place is similar to Bootham Crescent.
And on we rushed. As I’ve said before in this blog, there is something extraordinarily exciting and privileged about going onto the pitch. It’s like you’re seeing the place from the inside out. We waited for the lads to emerge in the directors box and sung along to “Wonderwall” on the PA. I stood beside a shaven-headed, bare-chested fella wearing a gold chain around his neck. He sported an equally bare-chested lady tattoeed on one pec and a full Rochdale crest on the other and dabbed at his eyes with his replica shirt.
“Dale are going up! Dale are going up! And now are you going to believe us?” Well, OK then.
Programme notes: Great programme especially the fans tales from the Dale invasion of Torquay. An impromptu match between rival fans was likened to the kickabout between the trenches on Christmas Day 1914 which I thought was stretching things just a tad. There was also a great Q&A with the ultimate non-glory hunting fan. Step forward one Jarle Gunstad from Norway who took to supporting Dale when they narrowly missed being voted out of the league in 1978. Daresay he’s disappointed they’ve now gone up. The Norwegian branch of the Rochdale supporters club has 25-30 members, Jarle reports.
Fashion notes: The goalies looked like highlighter pens. Dale’s sported fluorescent orange and Northampton’s a similarly gaudy hue of green.
Optional extras: Well observed story here (from The Guardian) about Rochdale’s season. And below is a good film of the pitch invasion from the opposite end to where I stood. Start watching from about 2:15.