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