The excitement of our bigger game contrasts with the pain and even shame for the visiting cowboys – sorry – supporters. It’s apparently hard being a cowboy in Rochdale. They are so not used to their club having to qualify for the FA Cup. The last time that Dale had to do so was 99 years ago.
Neither are they used to non-league football after 102 years at a higher status though truthfully there is far less difference between Step One and League Two now than there used to be when Hereford United took the drop. Tough times indeed for our Lancashire visitors who just four years ago were in League One. They are still under threat of a suspended six-point deduction being activated. That follows a horrible mess around a hostile takeover in 2022 which breached the Owners and Directors Test. Four people were banned from football which included a former Rochdale AFC Chief Executive.
More positively, Dale has a healthy- looking balance sheet thanks to owning assets worth well over £2 million (presumably the ground and its conference facilities). But you can’t spend assets and the club chairman is seeking generous people to give the club lots of money aka “investors.” Their squad has adapted reasonably well to national league life with Dale currently 10th. Decent results on the road with 3 wins, 3 draws and only two defeats. They’ve scored in every away game.
Their Gaffer 38-year-old Jamie McNulty, is enjoying his first appointment. You hope he’s enjoying it. He is a quite recently retired Rochdale player having racked up 237 games since 2015. His full-time squad have CV’s which are far above what we are used to seeing and include several sons of famous footballers. Keeper Louis Moulden is Paul Moulden’s son. Also, there is Frank Sinclair Junior better known as Tyrese while Barry Ferguson’s offspring Kyle is also in the squad.
One notable old stager is 38-year-old striker Ian Henderson. “Hendo” is 3 weeks older than his manager though still playing and scoring. He’s played 400 games for his club (that’s more than our entire squad combined have managed for HFC) and is their club record scorer with 140. Five of those were scored this season. That’s a reasonable return but when you add in the 6 from Kairo Mitchell plus 7 scored by Tyrese Sinclair, it’s pretty clear Dale have some serious hitting power.
I’m indebted to Keith Hall who pointed out the last time Dale won at Edgar Street was November 1989. They have visited ten times subsequently without winning, most recently being in 2010. Hereford clubs have a long unbeaten home record against the Lancastrians to defend.
Rochdale have never had a single owner. There are over 300 shareholders so they claim to be fan owned. The Dale Trust have one of the biggest shareholdings and seem very active with nearly 900 members. I mention the Trust particularly as a certain Keith Hicks is on their committee – the very same Keith who will be the star turn in our Hospitality Area.
Let’s not kid ourselves. We’re up against a well organised full-time club who travel well enough and who will appreciate our excellent playing surface. It’s a tough gig. But they are the side under big pressure with increasingly impatient support. In years gone by, they have come unstuck against determined lower league opposition. I. vividly remember a live Sky match when Fc United put Dale out 3-2 on their own pitch.
As ever, my appeal is to be there if you can. The club coffers need you. Radio Hereford FC is absolutely wonderful of course but you can’t beat live football, even if 5 home Saturdays out of 6 is straining a lot of pockets.
We are not just Proud to Print but Proud to sell out in Print. Seven of the last 8 issues are print sell outs so buy your copy while you can.
Issue 140 boasts 48 advert free pages for just £3 with original content. Worth buying alone for the image of a very young Frank Williams. Brian and I will be selling behind the main stand, and print copies also available right now (whilst stocks last) via our online store.
If you want an electronic version, its accessible via the website. As ever all profits will benefit Hereford FC.