Who Are These Jobbers?
Sunderland’s first-ever visit to Rochdale in April was a major moment for the Lancashire town. The locals lined the streets to welcome such a prestigious opponent. They all spoke about how proud they were that little ol’ Dale were able to mix it in the same division as such spectacular heavyweights like Sunderland AFC. Everyone was oh-so very excited.
Rochdale chief executive officer David Bottomley correctly pointed out that Wearside’s finest were a “club with a normal away greater than our average home attendance” when asking Dale fans to move from their season ticket spot. They even made commemorative mugs to mark the occasion, naturally this was a proud day for everyone involved with Rochdale AFC.
Despite initial impressions, those folk at Spotland are much smarter than they look. They can sniff out a business opportunity when they see it so when Sunderland were scheduled to visit mere days into the new season, their eyes lit up.
I can see the thought process - dish out over 3,000 away tickets and casually raise the price so no-one really notices. Delightfully devilish, Rochdale.
So for reasons unknown to anyone, the club that has never been higher than League One in their entire history find it totally cool and justified to charge people £27 to watch a third tier game of association football. That’s TWENTY SEVEN OF THE QUEEN’S ENGLISH POUNDS. That’s a night out in Arizona or a really, really nice shirt from Primark.
Of course, this is a new ticketing structure from Rochdale which, naturally, has Category B games as the most expensive. Again, very cool. This special status is only reserved to six teams including Ipswich (?), Portsmouth, Rotherham United, Bury and Bolton, alongside our good selves.
While many people will baulk at this price, you can understand why Rochdale are implementing it now. As Bury and Bolton could cease to exist by the time they come to face Dale in December and January respectively, it seems only natural to rake in as much money as possible before winter sets in. And, let’s be honest, those commemorative mugs aren’t going to pay for themselves.
Anyway, I’m sure it’s a price worth paying for the good people of Rochdale so they can see such illustrious stars such as Chris Maguire and Conor McLaughlin grace their pitch.
In the immortal words of Spinal Tap during a blighted Springfield concert, “we’re just trying to put a tiny thrill into their gray little lives”.
What’s The Ground Like?
You’re no doubt wondering, “but Cans & Megabus, old pal, what do I get for my £27 at Rochdale?”.Well, you lovely, lovely people you get to stand in a football ground with a roof - a novelty I’m sure you’ll agree.
There are seats as well, loads of them! Dusty, blueish seats. Oh wait, I’ve not mentioned the catering facilities, they’re behind a mesh and might not be on sale at half-time! However, the toilets are massive, so that’s cool!
Sunderland supporters are housed in the Wilbutts Lane Stand which flanks the side of the pitch, a luxury only afforded to supporters that fork out £27.
How Do I Get There?
Once you’ve choked down that £27 ticket price for a third tier game of association football (once again, top stuff Rochdale), you need to get to idyllic setting that is Spotland.
For those of you driving down on a beautiful summer’s eve, take the A19, A1(M) and M1 to Leeds before exiting for the M62 at junction 42. Head west before leaving at junction 20 for the A627(M) and subsequent A664 and Roch Valley Way into Rochdale. From here simply follow the signs labelled ‘football stadium’.
There is limited parking available at the ground itself but there is plenty of street parking in the surrounding area. However, be careful you don’t end up in a ‘residents only’ area as you’ll be getting a big old parking ticket to top your evening off.
If you get lost, plop OL11 5DR into your sat nav.
Rochdale railway station is served by trains from both Leeds and Manchester. It’s absolutely ages away from the ground so either hop in a taxi or embark on the 40-minute walk. You can also reach Rochdale by Metrolink but, trust me, it takes an eternity.
Where Can I Get The Sesh Started?
If there is one sure-fire solution to quelling the boiling rage, fuelled by an injustice of paying twenty-seven English pounds for a third tier game of association football, it’s a lovely pint of beer. Luckily, Rochdale has plenty of hostelries where you will be able to quench your thirst and maybe soothe your fume for a couple of hours at least.
The closest pubs to the away end are the Cemetery Hotel on Bury Road and The Bamford Arms a little further down the road, which are about a 10-minute walk from the turnstiles. If you’re arriving in Rochdale town centre, you are simply spoilt for choice for a pre-match light ale.
Opposite Rochdale Town Hall is the Flying Horse Hotel on Packer Street which is a charming affair with an array of hand pulls, fancy European lager and even fancier crisps. A couple of doors down, you can lower the tone at Yates, also on Packer Street. For those of your with an insatiable lust for Wetherspoons, you’ll find The Regal Moon on The Butts.
And should you want to step into a venue of true distinction then chase away the thirst with a cold pint in the 2012 National CAMRA Pub of the Year which The Baum on Toad Lane.
I’m Staying Owa, Is There Owt To Do?
Very much like Accrington on a Tuesday night - no.
There is nothing to do in Rochdale on a Tuesday night.