David Cameron Walker

Archive for the ‘Rochdale’ Category

Could this be Rochdale’s year?

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013


Could this be Rochdale’s year? I definitely think it could be! Seven wins, two draws and three losses from Dale sees them sitting second in League Two, just behind leaders Chesterfield on goal difference. The number of wins, draws and losses so far this season are identical to Rochdale’s promotion season, so is this a good omen? Our recent run and quality hasn’t gone unnoticed, with Keith Hill winning ‘Sky Bet Football League Manager of the month’ for September, Scott Hogan winning a PFA Award and also a number of ‘Goals of the Day’ already from Sky Sports News…

After a bad couple of years changing management and getting relegated back into ‘The Rochdale Division’ we seem to be back on track and in my opinion getting our quality back which we had in the ‘Hillcroft era’ . Maybe us Dale fans wont have to reminisce back to our promotion season, we can relive the moment again.

Keith Hill was busy over the summer negotiating contracts with the few players already at Spotland but also recruiting new talent which would hopefully create another successful Rochdale team. Goalkeeper Josh Lillis remains Hilly’s number one choice but he has strong competition from 20 year old Robbie Thomson recruited in from SPL champions Celtic who impressed during pre season.

Jack O’Connell joined from Blackburn Rovers on a six month loan deal and has formed a strong centre-back partnership alongside ex-Aldershot defender Olly Lancashire,to the relief of Dale fans because in my opinion it was definitely something we have lacked since the Craig Dawson and Marcus Holness days. Ex Blackpool and Bury man Ashley Eastham also put pen to paper during the summer, a signing that divided opinion amongst supporters after hearing some negative comments from Bury fans. We can certainly say from how he has played when included, never judge a book by it’s cover! Eastham has been very unlucky, injury costing him his place then the current form of Lancashire and O’Connell, but the young defender has definitely impressed us Dale fans so far. The two players that complete our back four are Michael Rose and Joe Rafferty, both players being regular starters last season too.

Michael Rose made an impact for Dale straight away when Keith Hill signed him last January, his experience and knowledge of the game, not to mention his brilliant free kicks has made a huge different to the team and yet again is doing so this new season. 20 year old Joe Rafferty has always been a favourite of mine, he featured at the beginning of the season but when Rhys Bennett came back from injury Hill decided to drop Rafferty. I think this has done him the world of good, Joe took it on the chin, respected Keith’s decision and worked on trying to get back in the starting eleven and in my opionion looks like a new player now he is back. Not only has he stepped up his game but he has shown that he has grown into a more mature player (plus he has worked on his shooting and finally scored haha).

Following the departure of fans favourite Jason Kennedy, we needed to quickly find a replacement and Hilly succeeded with Matthew Lund. Lundy to us Dale fans, has quickly fitted into his role playing recently alongside teenager Jamie Allen with the experienced Gary Dicker playing just behind the pair.

Ian Henderson finished the back end of last season off with a bang and his form has continued. With four goals already the forward has definitely been a huge hit with the fans at Spotland especially after his 93rd minute chip over the keeper that won Dale all three points on Saturday, the chant says it all ‘ HERE’S TO YOU IAN HENDERSON, ROCHDALE LOVES YOU MORE THAN YOU WILL KNOW’ .

Rochdale’s midfield this season is definitely the strongest it has been in a while, fighting off Championship clubs to resign Matty Done just proves how confident players are in Keith Hill and how enjoyable football is under him. Ex-Sheffield Wednesday Frenchman Bastien Hery has also shown his quality, with his skilful play and impressive flicks. Another signing  fans are am extremely pleased with is Peter Vincenti; I have honestly never seen a winger like him. Let’s just say he isn’t your typical wing man but he has impressed me so far, contributing to the goals and the height of the team.

I’ve mentioned most of club’s new signings, Scott Hogan signed for us during the summer but was once a Rochdale player before, not sure why we only just know of him though he is quality. Hogan has been the star of the season so far, attracting the headlines, scoring some belters and winning several man of the match awards. The 21-year old has scored five goals in 13 games and has shown us fans he isn’t scared of taking on a man and shooting. George Donnelly, Graham Cummins and Joe Bunney have also contributed with goals and creating so far this season and hopefully can bag many more.

Dale have been brilliant at home and their record proves it, but both home and away they have played some fantastic football and showed signs of quality which some could argue are a lot higher than League Two level.

I am personally excited and proud to be a Rochdale fan, I know it’s early days but so far I am more than happy with what I have seen and I am positive that this team can build to become successful. I am not only happy because of our football but this team show both on and off the pitch the respect and consideration for each other, the management, staff and the fans. Hopefully 2013-2014 will be a brilliant one for Rochdale Football Club. Up the Dale!

Written by Charlotte Cromarty, We Are Going Up’s Rochdale Blogger

Charlotte tweets at @Charlotte_RAFC

Four days is a long time in football

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

After a summer of changes with a multitude of players leaving and even more coming through the door at Spotland, we’re now well into the season with a new-look Rochdale.

John Coleman and Jimmy Bell promised that we’d see a different Rochdale team this year, one that reflects their style of football and their passion on the pitch and they weren’t lying. In fact, I think I only recognised three players on the first day of the season. When we played Keith Hill’s Barnsley in the League Cup, I can safely say I recognised more men in red than in blue!

So then, initial thoughts?

It’s hard to say, there’s been some encouraging performances which deserved more than we got (the 0-0 draw with Northampton at home, for example). However there’s also been some abject performances, most notably Burton at home where 1-0 could quite easily have been four or five.

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect so far is that the players look bothered. They look like they want to play for Coleman and buy into his system. This is a huge relief after most of last season’s squad looking like they’d rather be anywhere else.

The departure of talisman/record appearance holder/captain/Mr Rochdale Gary Jones hasn’t quite left the hole in the midfield that I thought it would either as we appear to have a ready-made replacement in Andrew Tutte. The former Man City youth player is one that has always been quite highly rated, but has really come into his own this season with some dominating performances, not to mention two absolutely stunning strikes against Barnsley and Chesterfield.

A special mention must go to Dele Adebola too. The big striker has got himself a bit of a reputation as a lower-league journeyman (search him on Wikipedia and it’s hard to argue), but he’s been brought in to address one major problem from last season – a lack of height. It must be said that he’s doing it well at the moment, and is chipping in with a few goals too. I was as dubious as the next man when he signed, but he’s proved me wrong so far and hopefully his legs will keep up all season.

Confession time.

I actually started writing this post before the weekend. At the time we had won one game, drawn two and lost two. We had two away games coming up, the first being at Wimbledon and then Rotherham on a cold Tuesday night. When you consider that we hadn’t won away since November 2011, there wasn’t really much to shout about. Then, by 5pm on Saturday, something happened.

We won an away game.

Fair enough, Wimbledon aren’t going to rip up any trees, but to finally have that monkey off our backs was a great relief and we went to Rotherham with a little hope. Bear in mind however, that Rotherham are tipped by many to do big things this season and were yet to lose at their new, ridiculously named New York Stadium. Anyway, long story short, by 10pm Tuesday night we were celebrating our second away win in four days. I’m cringing as I write this horrible cliché, but away wins really are like buses. Sorry.

It’s funny how fickle football fans can be. After the defeat to Burton and right up until the win at Wimbledon people were saying how we look like a Conference-bound team and that Coleman isn’t the man for the job…you know the drill. Two wins later we sit a place outside the playoffs and the doom and gloom has suddenly disappeared. It’s amazing what a difference four days makes.

Once again, up the Dale!

Written by Jack Oldham, We Are Going Up’s Rochdale Blogger

Jack tweets at @jacko_dale

The Rochdale Division – We’re Coming Back Home

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

It was never going to be easy, and second season syndrome well and truly hit Spotland this season.

Many Rochdale fans went into the season with high hopes after we secured a bloke who was apparently one of the most highly-rated youth coaches in the country. These situations can either go one way or the other, and unfortunately the less said about Steve Eyre’s short spell at Spotland the better.

It’s a strange thing, this relegation lark. I always imagined that if we were to get relegated, I’d be in a filthy mood and an emotional wreck for weeks. However when the inevitable actually happened I felt nothing of the sort, and a weird sense of relief that the wounded animal that was my beloved football club had been put out of its misery. Funny old game, isn’t it?

So, where do we go from here? Do we stand around, pointing the finger and placing blame for the dreadful season we’d just endured? Everyone from players, to management, to the board have been blamed for it. Personally, I think our biggest downfall was not getting an adequate replacement in for super Craig Dawson after he joined West Brom, but I prefer not to dwell on it. What’s done is done. It’s been a very, very unenjoyable season, there’s no denying that, but instead of focusing on that, I try to think of the better times.

The 2010/11 season in particular, Keith Hill’s last in charge, saw us surprise everyone. Doing the double over Southampton, plus wins against Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton and Huddersfield will live long in the memory of many a Dale fan and whilst these all seem like a distant memory, we will always have them.

Anyway, that was then and this is now. John Coleman has promised that he will put together his own squad and that radical changes are ahead. He’s released three players from last year’s squad, including left back Joe Widdowson who many feel was unlucky to not get a new deal. The rumour is that Accrington Stanley captain Dean Winnard and his veteran team mate Kevin McIntyre are both on the way to Dale to shore things up at the back, which is hardly a surprise.

Winger Nicky Adams has been transfer listed by request and it was clear from day one that him and the management team didn’t see eye to eye. I can’t think of many Dale fans who are too upset by this, and Adams himself has taken to Twitter to voice his displeasure at some of the comments aimed his way. Whilst I don’t like to see players getting abuse from fans, there’s only so many “Gutted about today’s result” tweets you can take when the players on the pitch really didn’t look bothered.

There was also talk of unrest in the camp, as an anonymous message board user took to posting “insider information” on the unofficial website, with some pretty strong claims against John Coleman and his assistant Jimmy Bell. Whilst I don’t like to give credibility to these types of sources, the poster did say the day before the 3-2 win over Exeter that captain and record appearance holder Gary Jones was to be dropped after a midweek training bust-up with Coleman and Bell. Lo and behold, Saturday arrived and Jones was nowhere to be seen, not even at the ground. No smoke without fire, as they say.

Anyway, on to the future now. Coleman has moved quickly to sign the first of what a imagine will be a multitude of scousers this summer. George Donnelly arrived from recently-relegated Macclesfield Town for a nominal fee. I can’t say I know too much about Donnelly, but what I’ve been told by Macclesfield fans is generally positive. It’s extremely encouraging to see plans being put into place so early. The club have also been linked with their midfielder Ross Draper. Having read Silkmen forums it seems they think very highly of him, and he also scored from the halfway line last season. A few of them will do nicely for Dale!

There’s a real sense of intrigue as we head into this season. John Coleman was very much the man that the majority wanted in charge, and many feel he was powerless as we freefell back into League Two. I for one am really looking forward to seeing the squad he puts together, even if his scouting range only goes as far as Merseyside! I don’t care where they come from, as long as they do a job on the pitch that’s all that matters to me!

It’s hard to know what to expect, and I’m not expecting miracles. I’m not expecting us to walk the league, and will be pleasantly surprised if we sneak into the playoffs. If Coleman’s spell at Accy is anything to go by, he will be here for the long run and hopefully we’ll see a similar type of steady improvement that Accrington did under his lead.

So long League One (for now anyway.) It’s been emotional, sort of.

Written by Jack Oldham, We Are Going Up’s Rochdale Blogger

Jack tweets at @jacko_dale

Second Season Syndrome Strikes

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Last time I wrote, Dale fans were still getting over the departure of Keith Hill and David Flitcroft, but were quietly optimistic about the upcoming season. After all, we’d just replaced the greatest management team in our history with one of the most highly-respected youth coaches in the country.

Seven months, three managers and just six wins later, we find ourselves 23rd in League One and four points from safety. It’s safe to say Steve Eyre’s tenure didn’t quite pan out as we’d hoped, as he was sacked in December after a dreadful start to the season. Many journalists were quick to jump on the back of Chris Dunphy and the board, slating them for not even giving him until the January transfer window to prove his worth. The truth is, many of these journalists hadn’t been to a Dale game all season and hadn’t seen what the fans had seen. We were sinking without trace, and something needed to be done.

Youth team manager Chris Beech took the reigns on a caretaker basis and was given every opportunity to make the job his own. His loan acquisitions of Daniel Bogdanovic, Brett Ormerod and Peter Kurucz certainly suggested he had the contacts to make a good go of it. Unfortunately, three draws and three defeats (including a 5-1 trouncing by managerless Stevenage) saw Mr Dunphy look elsewhere and after what seemed like weeks of rumours, long-serving Accrington Stanley manager John Coleman took over at Spotland.

I think I speak for most Dale fans when I say that Coleman was a universally popular choice to take the hotseat, as many were calling for his name in the summer. Let’s look at facts. In his 13 years at Accrington (at the end of which, he was the 3rd longest serving manager in the country behind Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger), he improved the club’s position season upon season without fail. In other words, he never finished a season lower than the previous one. That’s some feat, I’m sure you’ll agree. Add to this the fact he had Accrington in and around the League Two playoffs on arguably the smallest budget in the Football League, and you know we’re in good hands.

Results and performances have picked up too. Four clean sheets and just three goals conceded in his first seven games is a clear sign of how he’s shored up the defence. This is even more impressive when you consider that when Coleman took over, we had conceded 49 goals in 27 games. We were leaking goals and it was a case of when, and how many the opposition would score, instead of “if”. This improvement is in no small part thanks to the signing of Kevin Long on loan from Burnley, who has filled the huge Craig Dawson-shaped hole that our defence has had since the summer.

It’s safe to say however, that us Dale fans are under no illusions. The impressive results that we’ve picked up recently (including a 3-0 thrashing of local rivals Bury in Coleman’s first game in charge, and draws against Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton) are a positive start but we need to face facts. We are still four points from safety, and whilst we aren’t conceding many goals, the truth is that we’re not scoring many either. We also still have a number of tough games coming up including Huddersfield, Sheffield United and MK Dons. Time is running out, there’s no doubt about it.

There are many things we can point the finger at and blame for us being where we are. Should Dunphy have taken a chance on a youth manager with no first team experience? Should Chris Beech have been given six games to prove his worth, when all but maybe two of his first few games were decent enough performances? In reality, I can’t think of many people who were against the appointment of Eyre in the summer, and it was a matter of time telling that he wasn’t up to the job. One thing is for sure; in John Coleman we have a manager who knows the lower leagues like the back of his hand, and more importantly, knows how to win. No matter which division we’re in next year, it promises to be a fun ride.

Having spent so long trying to get out of the cruelly named “Rochdale division”, it’s a sickener to think we could be on our way back after just two years. Nothing is certain though, and stranger things have happened. One positive is that if the worst happens and we do go down, then there’s no doubt we have the right man in charge to lead another promotion push next year. As ever, it’s a case of strapping ourselves in and trying to enjoy the ride.

After the days of champagne football (or perhaps, Pomagne…it is Rochdale after all) under Keith Hill, this season has served as a timely reminder of just how quickly things can change. It’s certainly been a learning curve, and here are a few things we’ve learnt since August:

- Being a good youth team manager, doesn’t automatically make you a good first team manager.

- “Second season syndrome” well and truly exists.

- If Matthew Barnes-Homer can play professional football, so can I.

- You wouldn’t want to meet John Coleman and his assistant Jimmy Bell down a dark alley.

As always – up the Dale!

Written by Jack Oldham, We Are Going Up’s Rochdale Blogger

Jack tweets at @jacko_dale

Steve gives a breath of fresh Eyre to Dale

Monday, August 15th, 2011

For Rochdale fans, the summer of 2011 has been a far cry from the norm at Spotland.

After finishing 9th in a highly impressive first season in League One, our ultimate nightmare became reality as manager Keith Hill and his assistant Dave Flitcroft were poached by Barnsley. Hill, who was one of the top ten longest serving managers at the time, had been continually linked to moves away from Spotland in his four and a half year tenure at the club. After a strung out “Will he? Won’t he?” saga, Hill and Flitcroft (or “Hillcroft”, as they were known by the ‘Dale faithful) eventually decided that their next step on the managerial ladder was to be in South Yorkshire.

As is always the case when a manager leaves, the fans were split. Half of the fans wished Hillcroft well, whilst the other half hoped they crashed and burned at Barnsley, referring to them as “Judas”. The question now was, where do we go from here? A number of names were thrown into the hat to follow in the footsteps of Hillcroft. Some were ridiculous (Roberto Di Matteo, Kevin Keegan), and some were downright terrifying (Paul Simpson, Paul Ince).

With names like Messrs Simpson and Di Matteo mentioned, it was to our surprise that we named a bloke from Man City called Steve Eyre as the man to step into Hillcroft’s shoes. The day before he was appointed, Eyre went from not even being mentioned for the job, to 3/1 with some bookies and William Hill even closed betting. It appeared we had our man.

So who is this Steve Eyre character? As well as being every headline writers dream, it seems he’s also a pretty well respected chap in the footballing community. Having retired from football at the age of 19, Eyre went on to spend 20 years coaching at Man City, winning five youth league titles and one youth FA Cup before being approached by Dale chairman Chris Dunphy. Apart from that, there’s not much else to report really.

First impressions are good, I must say. He certainly talks a good game without the cockiness that Keith Hill used to have. I personally was a fan of Hill’s attitude, but it’s always nice to not have one of the most unpopular football managers in the Football League.

He’s also brought in a few good players. Rather predictably, he’s used his City connections to sign Ashley Grimes and Andrew Tutte permanently, the former bagging three goals in his first three games, and also got Liverpool’s Stephen Darby on a season-long loan. Add to this the fact he’s openly invited Joey Barton to train with us, like him or not it’s a decent way to show a bit of ambition I think you’ll agree!

Any hopes Eyre had for an easy start to his managerial career have quickly been dashed. Keith Hill took two of last season’s star performers, Scott Wiseman and Matty Done, to Barnsley with him, whilst star striker Chris O’Grady has been snapped up by Sheffield Wednesday for an undisclosed fee. Not only was he faced with the task of replacing three quality players, but his opening two league games were to be against Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield Town – arguably two of the favourites for promotion this year!

So here we are, two games (and a Carling Cup win over Chesterfield) into the new season. What do we know now? Still not a lot really. After a 2-0 opening day defeat at Hillsborough and a 2-2 draw at home to Huddersfield, Eyre is still waiting for the honeymoon period to kick in. We’ve learnt a few things along the way though. Firstly, Ashley Grimes knows where the back of the net is, with his latest goal being an 89th minute equaliser against Huddersfield on Saturday.

Secondly, it’s clear that we’re lacking height after the departure of O’Grady. For all his endeavours on Saturday, the man with the best name in the Football League – Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro, stood no chance in the air against Huddersfield’s giant centre halves. Eyre has been quick to address this, and is working round the clock to bring in a tall centre forward and centre half.

Thirdly, it’s clear just how much Steve Eyre was respected at Manchester City for his work with the team’s youth players. Our first few home games have been attended by numerous Man City youngsters, as well as Micah Richards and bad lad ex-loanee Kelvin Etuhu making an appearance in the main stand at the Huddersfield game. Rumours of Carlos Tevez also showing his face are unconfirmed, but I believe Chris Dunphy is currently working every hour God sends on a contract for the unsettled Argentine international.

Ok, so maybe the last bit was a little porkie pie, but I can dream can’t I? On second thoughts, he’s probably not tall enough for us anyway…

Written by Jack Oldham, We Are Going Up’s Rochdale Blogger

Jack tweets at @jacko_dale