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Club News

On The Road: Rochdale

10 March 2022

Phil Yelland dives head first into the archives to investigate how The Bluebirds have got on during previous trips to Rochdale ahead of Saturday's encounter at The Crown Oil Arena.

Saturday sees us make our 50th trip in all competitions to Spotland, now known as The Crown Oil Arena, to play Rochdale.

Our first ever visit took place in April 1909 when both clubs were in the Lancashire Combination Division Two when a goal from Adam Turnbull gave us a 1-0 victory. The East Lancashire side joined the Football League at the same time as us in time for the 1921/22 season and we did the double over them. Bernard Sharkey, our top scorer that season, proved the difference in both games as we won 1-0 twice.

We then had to wait a further 10 seasons before our next success there and, in the intervening period we lost on every visit. However, in March 1932, in Division Three North, we recorded our biggest ever win at Spotland. We were to finish that season fifth in the table, with Rochdale bottom, and we ran out 6-0 winners. There were two goals for Ernie Suggett, with Billy Millar and Tom Postlethwaite also finding the net along with two own goals. That win was the start of a four-match unbeaten run at the ground.

However, after World War Two, visiting Spotland was not a good experience for The Bluebirds as we went 17 games in a number of different competitions without a win. Then, in April 1962 in our final away game of the 1961/62 season, we won 2-0 with goals from Dave Brown and Johnny Kemp.

The following season, however, the home side gained their revenge with their biggest ever win over us on their own patch. On several previous occasions they had scored five goals, and even six, but this was the first time we had lost 6-0. The game took place in October 1962 and Rochdale’s strength at home that season was highlighted by the fact that they lost just one game, winning 16 out of their 23 home league outings.

The 1966/67 season, at the end of which we won promotion from Division Four, saw two 3-1 victories at Spotland. The league success came in our first away game of the season in August 1966 with Billy McAdams, Jim Mallon and Jim Mulholland scoring the goals. Then, in the FA Cup First Round at the end of November, Tony Field netted twice along with Roy McCarthy.

Our last league visit to Spotland came in September 1969 when we lost 1-0 to start a run of 17 league games without a win, which ultimately meant relegation. That sequence of defeats ended in December 1969 when we beat Rochdale 2-0 at Holker Street.

So, in 49 visits to East Lancashire we have won 10, drawn 10 and lost 29 games - hopefully Saturday brings win number 11 for The Bluebirds.

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