Many of our fans may remember Rochdale best for our 5-1 win at Spotland just after we lost the services of Graham Westley in 2012. With the boss heading on for pastures new at Preston, Mark Roberts took charge and marked his managerial debut in some style. For a long time, it was the last time we’d come across the Dale too. After relegation to League Two at the end of the 2011-2 season, they returned to League One the same summer that we plunged out of it ourselves.
If fate wanted to mark the 10th anniversary of our first-ever meeting against Rochdale, so be it. The club were relegated again from League One at the end of the 2020-1 campaign; bringing us back together once again. We can only hope that every trip to Spotland is like our first…
Rochdale? Oh, this story goes a long way back. It’s 112 years to be exact(ish); the Dale forming in 1907. In 1921, they were one of 20 founder members of Division Three North – starting a long-running thing with the League’s bottom two tiers that endures to this very day. Eighth in League One is as good as it’s ever been from them, from what we can tell. And, between 1974 and 2010, the club seemed to be locked into the basement division.
We’d love to embellish things a bit, but there’s not much more to say. A solid, if unspectacular timeline.
Why do we know Rochdale?
Ah, so many tales to fit into one or two paragraphs that you won’t read properly anyway. This all starts back in 2004 and the second round of the FA Cup. In the first, we’d pulled off a shock indoors against Stockport County – then near the wrong end of Division Two (or League One in the new parlance). How things change, eh? Our reward, though, was another home tie against League opposition: Rochdale.
At the time, the Dale were knocking around the wrong end of Division Three (or League Two). It was only right that we fancied our chances of another cupset. But it wasn’t to be.
How to get to Rochdale – Travel Information – Distance: 192 miles
There are two ways to drive from Stevenage to Rochdale; the A1 option proving slightly shorter in distance and time. The alternative is to use the M6. Either way, Rochdale is to the north of Manchester and you can expect the drive to take three-and-a-half-hours.
Travel north on the A1 until you reach Junction 41, at which point you need the M62 for Manchester. At Junction 20, leave the M62 and take the third exit at the roundabout; the A627(M) towards Rochdale. After more than a mile, turn right onto Edinburgh Way/A664. Continue onto Roch Valley Way/B6452 and remain on this road for around 1.5 miles.
Head north on the M6 to Junction 21a, where you need to switch to the eastbound M62. Continue on as the motorway becomes the M60 and again once it becomes the M62 yet again. Leave the M62 at Junction 20 and follow the directions above.
Spotland has a small car park – but not for fans. Street parking is available, however. It just needs a bit of attention to any parking restrictions where yellow cones are out. You can also park at Oulder Hill Community School, which is around half a mile away.
Services to: LEEDS (for STEVENAGE)
Rochdale railway station is a couple of miles from the ground and at least 35 minutes to walk. Turn left outside the station and head along Station Road; following it around to the right into Milkstone Road. Shortly afterwards, head left into Tweedale Street for 0.1 miles.
Turn right into Castlemere Street and head along to the end, where you need to turn left onto Drake Street. This will take you to the Manchester Road dual carriageway. Here, go right. Cross the road and – at Asda – turn left into Dane Street; following it round and into Mellor Street.
This is one of the longest stretches of the walks; ending when you continue ahead into Edenfield Road. Turn left into Willbutts Lane and the ground is on your left.
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