Now, we’ve only ever been to Rochdale once before – and it was a bloody good day out. Asking too much for a repeat performance? Let’s face it, the context of that inaugural trip to the Crown Oil Arena in September 2011 aren’t far off where we’re at now. The main difference is that we’re desperate for some better fortune in the league. Oh, the second main difference (we suppose) is the rather glaring – and unflattering – comparison between our current team and 10 years ago.
Ho hum, here’s the H2H.
Rochdale v Stevenage
Crown Oil Arena, Rochdale — 23 November 2021 — Sky Bet League Two
So, we’re going to roll this one back all the way to December 2004 for our first-ever meeting with the Dale. At the time, our interest in the Nationwide Conference playoff fight was genuine under the leadership of GW Mk I. And wins against Hendon and Billericay Town had put us into Round Two of the FA Cup. Our prize? A home time against the side from Greater Manchester, who found themselves going well enough in League Two that season.
The hope was obviously that we could upset the applecart and make it through to Round Three. It all went belly up on 04 December 2004, though. Andy Woodman saw red and Dannie Bulman had to fill in between the sticks as Boro’ crashed to a two-goal defeat at Broadhall Way.
Making our mark as equal partners
In a clear act of avoidance, the Dale went up from League Two to League One the same year that we went up into League Two. So, it ended up taking almost seven years to get the chance to seek revenge for our FA Cup despair. And that we did; Chris Beardsley scoring twice on 03 September 2011 as Boro’ claimed a first-ever home win as a League One club. The match ended 4-2, despite us being pegged back at 1-1 during the first half.
By the time the return fixture at Spotland came around, we’d just lost GW Mk II as manager. He’d upped sticks for the sunny climes of Preston. And we were somewhat rudderless, albeit with the momentum we’d built up in the weeks leading up to our meeting on 14 January 2012. With our skipper Mark Roberts in charge temporarily, we turned in one of our greatest performances from recent times. The Dale had absolutely no answer as we romped to a 5-1 victory.