We talk to a Rochdale fan this time, as we look to find out how they are going to do this season with the new signings of James Spencer and Adam Le Fondre.
Tell us a bit about your season last season firstly. Would you say it was a success or failure? Did you achieve anything throughout the season, and were the fans happy with the end result?
It was certainly a season of two halves! We were dropping like a stone under Parkin and it really was a depressing time to be a Dale fan, his tenure ended after defeat at Hartlepool and I didn’t hear anyone complaining! Keith Hill came in, initially on a part-time basis, and totally changed the mood around the club. Results picked up but perhaps even more pleasing was the attractive brand of football we were playing as I`m sure you lot became aware of at your gaff! We’ve heard nothing but positive things about the new regime, everything from the players diet to training has been changed, we’ve brought in a couple of ex-players behind the scenes and seem to be really moving forward on and off the pitch. The season finished with us in 9th place just behind County and left us all wishing we had appointed Hilly a few games earlier!
Obviously every close season sees players leave. Who left your club and were you happy with the decision to let those players go by your boss?
We have kept most of our squad together from last season. The only notable departures are goalkeeper Matt Gilks and Alan Goodall. I don’t think Hilly had much choice over these departures to be honest. Hilly doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy to stand in the way of a player wanting to play at a higher level.
So obviously, with players going out, some have got to come in. Who has come in for you, and do you expect them to do well? Tell us a bit about these lads?
It doesn’t feel as though we have made as many signings as we have due to the fact that we are used to seeing some of them in a Dale shirt. As I`m sure you’re all aware we finally managed to capture ALF who I think can do well for us, he’s looked sharp in pre-season and hopefully he can strike up a good partnership with another ex-County lad, Glenn Murray. We’ve also brought in Ben Muirhead who we had on loan from Bradford last season and scored twice against County last season I`m pleased we signed him as I`m sure other clubs will have been interested. Tom Kennedy’s arrived from Bury to replace Goodall, he’s looked decent so far although Bury fans don’t seem too impressed, mind you they only seemed to start criticising him once he’d signed for us! We’ve also brought in Nathan D’Laryea who was Man City’s reserve team captain and has looked very assured in our defence so far. Then we have Kallum Higginbotham who we signed from the Biffo’s, I imagine he’ll be fourth choice striker but he has seemed decent to be fair. Then of course there is James Spencer! Hopefully he isn’t as bad as you lot say he is! He hasn’t done much wrong as of yet but does seem a bit of a flapper….
Overall I`m pleased with Spencer being the only player yet to convince.
Who are going to be your star players this season then? Who`s going to get the goals, and who`s going to stop them?
It says a lot for how far we’ve come under Hill that I could name a lot of players for this one! Stanton and McArdle (The Wall) are excellent at centre back and D’Laryea seems to be pushing both of them hard. Perkins took the eye last season with his all action displays from midfield. Murray got a bag full last season and I think he can repeat that with Dagnall and ALF partnering him I think there’s a lot of goals in the team.
Season ticket sales help the club at the beginning of the season to stabilise the place and give it a bit of extra income. How many season tickets have your club shifted these season so far, and what do you expect the average attendance to be throughout the season?
Last I heard was about 1500 which would be a record for us, obviously we aren’t the best supported club in the world – or even in the division – so this number is very pleasing. It seems the fans are buying into what Hilly and his staff are trying to achieve and it all bodes well for the future. As for our average attendance I wouldn’t really know, certainly with more season tickets sold and the feel good factor around the place it should improve. We have been averaging around 2800 over the last few years but should we do well I think this could rise quite a bit.
Tell us a bit about your gaffer and his backroom staff. Do the fans like the gaffer, or can you see him being out of a job after a run of bad results?
As you’ve probably already worked out, the fans are very much behind what Hill is doing. He’s brought in former midfield dynamo Dave Flitcroft who, by all accounts, worked extremely hard to get ALF to Spotland. As a partnership they work very well together with Hill insisting it’s a team effort – ‘I say ‘I’ I should say ‘we’, it’s me, Dave and Rochdale AFC’. Sadly I can see a few fickle fans turning on him as expectations are very high, unrealistically high in some cases, but the more intelligent amongst us can appreciate how much he has ALREADY achieved with us.
This question is split into two. What do you BELIEVE your club can achieve this season, and what do you HOPE your club can achieve this season?
I think we’re capable of a play-off spot, since Hill joined the club we have been in Promotion form, obviously it will be hard to keep this up but not impossible. We have a good squad with strength in depth, a young management team who, whilst still learning, have fresh ideas and have took the club on leaps and bounds and a fan base united in support of the team and Manager. All the kind of things which usually spell disappointment then!
As far as hope goes, I hope we p*ss all over the league and have a few more results like ‘that’ 2-7!
Finally, whom do you expect to win the division, who do you think will go up with them and who do you think will be relegated?
I hate these types of questions! My promotion candidates would be Posh, Bradford, yourselves and Darlington, hopefully we can sneak in there too! I think Macclesfield, Barnet and Stanley will struggle.