Fascinating Facts: How the second tier of football continues to elude Rochdale

Royce Franklin

Royce Franklin takes a nostalgic look back at how football has changed in the 67 years since he watched his first live match.

ROCHDALE HAS never played in the second tier of English Football, although they finished runners-up in the old Third Division North on two occasions.

Firstly, in 1923-4 when they were beaten into second place by Wolverhampton Wonderers; only one point behind the champions. Remember there was only one team promoted in those days.

Three years later they were in a similar position, but this time they lost to Stoke City who finished on 63 points; Rochdale had 59. Never again were they to come close to gaining second tier status.

They spent 36 years in the wilderness of the fourth tier between 1974 until they were promoted at the end of 2009/10 season to League One as it is now called. They remained for only two seasons.

Season 2015/16 is again the second season they will have enjoyed third tier football in the recent past and they finished a creditable eighth last year. I am sure they are hoping for an even higher status this time round. Their supporters would be pleased to finish above Oldham Athletic, although they lost both games against the Latics 3-0.

Rochdale’s greatest achievement was probably being runners up to Norwich in the 1961/62 League Cup.

That season was the second year the League Cup had taken place. Not all teams entered and to illustrate the difficulties in organising it five teams were given a bye into the quarter final, including Rochdale.

Credit to Rochdale, however, in the quarter final they beat York City 2-1 and in the two-legged semi-final they got the better of Blackburn, then a top tier club, 4-3 on aggregate. They ultimately lost 4-0 to Norwich in a two-legged final.

The consolation was there were over 11,000 at the home fixture to see the first leg and over 19,000 at Carrow Road for the second. How they would love to see 11,000 crammed into Spotland today!


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