Crown Oil Arena

Capacity: 10,249
Address: Sandy Lane, Rochdale, OL11 5DR
Telephone: 0844 826 1907
Fax: 01706 648 466
Pitch Size: 114 x 76 yards
Club Nickname: The Dale
Year Ground Opened: 1906
Shirt Sponsors: Crown Oil
Kit Manufacturer: Errea
Home Kit: Blue, White and Black
Away Kit: Red with Blue & Black Sash

Willbutts Lane and Pearl Street Stands
Willbutts Lane and Pearl Street Stands
Looking Towards The Sandy Lane End
Looking Towards The Sandy Lane End
Main Stand
Main Stand
Willbutts Lane Stand
Willbutts Lane Stand
Sandy Lane End
Sandy Lane End
Pearl Street Stand
Pearl Street Stand

The Spotland football ground has benefited greatly with the construction of three new stands during the 1990’s and year 2000. It is quite picturesque, with a number of trees being visible behind the stands. The last of these new stands to be opened was the smart looking Willbutts Lane Stand at one side of the pitch, which was opened in 2000. This single tiered stand replaced a former terrace and has a capacity of 4,000. On the other side is another single tier, the all seated Main Stand. This has a number of supporting pillars and some executive boxes at the back. At one end the Pearl Street Stand is the third of the new stands. This is also all seated and serves as a Family Stand. It has a couple of supporting pillars that are right at the front of the stand. The Sandy Lane End is the only terraced area remaining. It is one the small size but does at least benefit from having a roof.  There is a Police Control Box located in one corner, between the Main & Pearl Street Stands. Spotland is shared with the Rochdale Hornets rugby league team.

In 2016 Spotland was renamed the Crown Oil Arena in a five year corporate sponsorship deal.

Away supporters are housed on one side of the Willbutts Lane Stand, where around 1,500 fans can be housed. If demand requires it, then the whole of this stand can be given to visiting fans increasing the allocation to 3,650. The stand is normally shared with home supporters with away fans being seated towards the Sandy Lane End. The view of the action and facilities within, are both pretty good. The acoustics are excellent, so away fans can really make some noise from within it. This, coupled with both home ends singing, makes for a good atmosphere. If Rochdale do score then 'Samba de Janeiro' blasts out around the ground from the p.a. system.

I would say that Spotland in my book, is one of the best footballing days out in the country. Friendly & knowledgeable fans, good stewards, good facilities, a couple of pubs located at the ground, a great range of pies on offer and not a bad atmosphere to boot. In other words all the right elements to make for a great day out. Add a pretty lady on my arm, my team winning six nil and I'll think that I have been transported to heaven!

Teresa Jewell a visiting Sheffield Wednesday fan adds; 'The ground is homely, with the staff being helpful and polite. The pies on sale (£2.80) were worth every penny. Parking though looked pretty bad, so I would advise getting there early if you want to park near to the stadium. The club house to the front of the ground is welcoming to away fans. There is also a chip shop facing the away end for something more substantial to eat, which does a roaring trade on matchdays'.

At the ground itself, there are two bars to choose from, Studds & the Ratcliffe Arms. Studds is located underneath the Pearl Street Stand and is worth a visit, if only to sample the large range of tasty pies & pasties on offer at £2.50 (which are also available inside the ground). No real ales here, but the bar has lots of memorabilia/pictures on the walls and some lovely looking barmaids which softens the blow. The Ratcliffe Arms is located at the car park entrance to the ground, on Sandy Lane. This pub has SKY TV, real ale, hot food and is family friendly. On my last visit this pub had a mixture of home and away fans. 

If you arrive early, the Cemetery Hotel, located at the bottom of Sandy Lane and on the corner with Bury Road, is also worth a visit. This comfortable historic pub has a range of real ales on offer and again friendly clientele. Otherwise alcohol is available inside the ground, although it is cans poured into plastic glasses.

If you require hotel accommodation in Rochdale or Manchester then first try a hotel booking service provided by They offer all types of accommodation to suit all tastes and pockets from; Budget Hotels, Traditional Bed & Breakfast establishments to Five Star Hotels and Serviced Apartments. Plus their booking system is straightforward and easy to use. Yes this site will earn a small commission if you book through them, but it will help towards the running costs of keeping this Guide going. 

Access their Rochdale and Manchester Hotels pages.

Remember that you can use the above link to book any other hotels that you may need for business or leisure, at home or abroad.

Exit the M62 at Junction 20 and take the A627(M) towards Rochdale. At the end of the A627(M) you should be in the left hand lane to turn left at the traffic lights. Now follow the road and with Tesco on your left, go straight through the next set of lights (approach in the middle lane) into Roch Valley Way. At the next crossroads (where the Cemetery pub is on the corner) go straight onto Sandy Lane, where the ground can be found on the right after approx 3/4 mile.

Car Parking at the ground is now for permit holders only, so it is a case of finding some street parking. However the streets in the immediate vicinity of Spotland are for 'residents only,' so if you are not careful you could end with a parking ticket for your trouble, so check first to see if there are street parking restriction signs, before deciding to park up. There is street parking to be had along the main A680 (Edenfield Road) which can be found at the end of Willbutts Lane, only a 5-10 minute walk away from the stadium.

Post Code for SAT NAV: OL11 5DR

Remember if travelling by train then you can normally save on the cost of fares by booking in advance.

Visit the the trainline website to see how much you can save on the price of train tickets.

Click on the trainline logo below:

Home Fans

Main Stand: Adults £22, Over 65's/Under 22's* £16, Under 17's £5
Willbutts Lane Stand: Adults £22, Over 65's/Under 22's* £16, Under 17's £5
Pearl Street Stand: Adults £20, Over 65's/Under 22's* £14, Under 17's £5
Sandy Lane Terrace: Adults £17, Over 65's/Under 22's* £12, Under 17's £5

Away Fans

Willbutts Lane Stand: Adults £22, Over 65's/Under 22's* £16, Under 17's £5

* Please note that photo ID showing date of birth, needs to be provided to purchase an Under 22 ticket.

Official Programme: £3

Rochdale AFC fixture list (takes you to the BBC Sports Website)

Bury, Burnley, Oldham, Stockport County, Manchester United and Manchester City.

For details of disabled facilities and club contact at the ground please visit the relevant page on the  Level Playing Field  website.

Record Attendance

24,231 v Notts County FA Cup 2nd Round, December 10th, 1949.

Average Attendance

2015-2016: 3,098 (League One)
2014-2015: 3,309 (League One)
2013-2014: 2,900 (League Two)

If anything is incorrect or you have something to add, please e-mail me at: and I'll update the guide.

Rochdale v AFC Wimbledon
Football League One
Saturday 27th August 2016, 3pm
Brian May (AFC Wimbledon fan)

Why were you looking forward to this game and visiting the Spotland Ground?

This was the first time I had been to Spotland and as I live in Edinburgh, going to watch Wimbledon play is a rare treat for me these days!

How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

We took the train down to Rochdale, (just one change at Wigan) and the journey was very easy. We had heard that there was a bit of a trek to the ground from the station but as we arrived in plenty of time, we decided to walk it. It is a fairly straightforward route but it does have a couple of hills and we found the Google maps estimate of 27 minutes to be a bit optimistic - it took us around 35 minutes at a reasonable pace.

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?

As I had my kids with me, the pub wasn't really an option, so we stopped off in a park for lunch and some local kids challenged my boys to a friendly match. A few 'robust' challenges and lots of goals later, it was declared honours even and a bit of good-natured banter followed as we headed to the ground.

What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of Spotland?

If walking from town you arrive at the away stand (with the convenient chippy opposite) so it's very easy to find your way in, and the club shop is also easy to find if you want to pay a visit. On entry, the stewards were polite enough but the kids and I had to go through separate turnstiles for some reason although they lead to the same place on the other side. On heading into the seating area, I was surprised to see that we appeared to have the biggest stand - albeit with the middle third roped off for us to sit in. The Dons had a couple of hundred supporters so there was plenty of room and the absence of pillars was a bonus. The ground has obviously been upgraded in recent years so the seated stands were tidy and the home terrace looks quite new too.

Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

Toilet facilities were basic but fine, the catering staff were very friendly and the meat and potato pies are highly recommended! During the game, the Dons fans made up for our small numbers by making plenty of noise (buoyed by an early goal) but the Rochdale fans didn't really get going until they started pressing for an equalising goal late on. The atmosphere overall was decent and the stewards kept a watchful eye on us, but were not at all overbearing. Both teams were at the foot of the table and the game was predictably tight. Wimbledon started the stronger and took the lead early on, but Dale had the better of the second half and deserved their equaliser.

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

The ground emptied quickly and both sets of fans mingled on the streets without a hint of trouble. With no obvious sign of taxis or buses, we set off for the long walk back to the station, stopping off at Asda on the way for supplies for the journey. The problem with attending games in England whilst living in Scotland is usually with getting home - we had to return via Leeds (as there were no connections via the west coast line) but still needed only one change.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Overall a good day out. Good view of the game, easy access to the ground and not a threatening atmosphere at any time - very important when you're taking kids to a game. Disappointed that we let 2 points slip deep into injury time, but a draw was probably about right. My overall impression was that both teams faced the proverbial 'long hard season', but I'm pleased to see that both have climbed into the top half at the time of writing.

Rochdale v Swindon Town
Football League One
Saturday 30th April 2016, 3pm
Mike Weston (Swindon Town fan)

Why were you looking forward to this game and visiting the Spotland football ground?

We don't normally go to many away games. Plus this season had been really challenging and most away matches are quite a drive away. But with the season safe for us, we made a late decision to go along for the day out and have a bit of a laugh.

How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

The usual M6 nightmare made it a challenge and we eventually arrived in Rochdale around 2pm. I had read on this site and others that parking was an issue, but we found the opposite.We drove past the ground (by the Cemetery) and at the main road junction turned right. There was loads of free unrestricted parking on the main road. Less than five minutes walk from the ground. It very easy to get in and out.

What you did before the game pub/hippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?

We had planned to visit the intriguingly named Cemetery pub, but with time running out we decided just to get parked and walk up to the stadium. We ended up being invited by a helpful steward into the Dale Bar at the ground, and despite being virtually the only away fans in the bar we were welcomed and treated well. I didn't hear one negative word toward us. Nice people and decent bar, well stocked and the service was excellent.

What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the Spotland Stadium?

I was quite surprised and happy to find ourselves seated not at one end of the ground (I detest the rubbish views from behind goals) but right on the halfway line. With an excellent viewpoint that rivaled the one we chose to have for home games. Rather weird to see the areas behind the goals on both ends populated by home fans. The pitch however wasn't pretty - mostly I guess as they play rugby league on it as well. it looked bare and bumpy all over the place.

Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

The home fans were quite quiet and sparse, despite the fact that they still had a mathematical chance of making the play offs. It made for a rather odd atmosphere, not that this affected our enjoyment. With us taking the lead after 90 seconds made us a little more boisterous than usual. The famed meat and potato pies were sampled, and were excellent. They were however a little more expensive than we have seen claimed on this site, two pies and two teas set me back a tenner. However the quality of the pies were good. When we went back for seconds at half time I opted for a balti pie, just for a change - it was a mistake. Watery filling and lacking in taste, If you're going, stick to the meat and potato version.

The game was a humdinger, us being two up and eventually hanging on with nine men for a draw. A special mention to the stewards - they were excellent. An altercation with one of their players during the game incensed one of our fans in the front row so much that he was climbing over the barrier to get at the player. He refused to sit down for some 20 minutes, continuing to harangue the player concerned. In most other grounds (ours included) he would have quickly found himself on the pavement outside the stadium. The stewards however gently and patiently persuaded him to sit down, and then kept an eye on him and reminded him of this each time the offending player came near and he decided it was time to have another "chat" with the player. Very patient and professional stewarding.

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

Absolutely easy. No trouble, very little traffic, we were back on the M6 in no time at all. I guess the low numbers of home fans contributed to this.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Very good. Welcoming and friendly locals, decent view, decent grub, easy to get in and out. No complaints at all and a far better experience than many away grounds. Just a shame they had Grant Holt playing for them, still it gave us someone to hate like a pantomime villain.

Rochdale v Port Vale
Football League One
Saturday 28th November 2015, 3pm
Daniel Turner (Braintree fan and Groundhopper)

Why were you looking forward to this game and visiting the Spotland ground?

It was a trip up to my family who live in Rochdale. I had already previously visited Spotland and was intending to take in another game in the area, but poor weather put paid to those games, so as Rochdale was still on, I decided to go there again.

How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

From my Auntie's house it was around a one mile walk to Spotland, which took around 30 minutes. For anyone driving it's fairly simple to park in nearby streets.

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?

I visited the chip shop in Wilbutts Lane prior to the game, which is well known for being extremely popular for both sets of fans. I also enjoyed a pint of Somersby Cider in the Radcliffe bar before the game.

What you thought on seeing the stadium, first impressions of away end then other sides of the Spotland Ground?

I sat in the Pearl Street Stand behind one goal. The view was okay, but they had left the poles up where the training goalkeeping net was, but this didn't bother me too much.

Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

The game was entertaining as we saw Port Vale go 1-0 up but Rochdale ended up winning the game 2-1. Thanks to the excellent drainage system we managed to see a game as the surroundings of the pitch were flooded but the pitch wasn't.

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

It's a bit busy as you have cars coming out the ground all at once and the traffic backs up half a mile due to some traffic lights down the road, but walking was fine.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Another good day out at Rochdale, a whopping great hot dog at £3 is well worth the price plus I bought a scarf programme pin badge and key ring for my personal collection. The Wilbutts Lane Chip shop is a must visit!

Rochdale v Peterbrough
League One
Saturday 8th August 2015, 3pm
Gavin Roger (Neutral fan)

Why were you looking forward to visiting Spotland?

Simply Spotland was a ground that I hadn't visited before.

How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?    

I got the train from Glasgow to Preston and then from Preston to Manchester Piccadilly. I then had the choice of the metro link from Piccadilly direct to Rocdale or the train from Victoria to Rochdale train station. I opted for the metro link as it's a shorter distance from to the ground than Rochdale train station. However the metro tram took just under an hour to get to Rochdale, so I decided that after the game that I would get the train back instead, as this took just 20 minutes to reach Manchester City Centre. I found the ground easily, it was around a 20 minute walk from Rochdale town centre. 

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?    

I had a couple of pints in the Wetherspoons pub in the town centre and then headed up to the Spotland football ground.

What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the stadium?    

First impressions were of a neat and tidy lower league ground. I was sat in the Main Stand which had a good view with the exception of a few pillars that did slightly obstruct your view. The away fans are situated directly opposite in a more modern looking stand, that I noticed was free of supporting pillars. The Peterborough fans were are allocated the whole stand but only filled about a third of it. Behind the goal to my left was a small covered terrace and a larger all seater stand opposite that both house the home fans.

Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..    

The game wasn't bad with Rochdale deservedly winning 2-0, the Peterbrough fans created a good atmosphere as did the Rochdale fans particularly from the covered terrace. The stewards were friendly and although I didn't sample the pies I had a drink in the bar at the back of the stand at half time.

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game    

Getting away from the ground was easy and I was lucky to hail a black cab back to Rochdale train station and then make my way back to Manchester.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Great day out for the opening game of the season on a warm sunny day.

Rochdale v Southend United
League One
Friday, April 18th, 2014, 3pm
John and Stephen Spooner (Southend United fans)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

I visited this ground many years ago and I had heard reports that the ground had been improved since then. Rochdale were in 2nd place in the League and Southend 6th with 4 games to go so we expected a good match. Southend had managed to stay in a play-off place despite a 12 match winless run. Rochdale is only 60 miles from where I live in North Wales as a Southend exiled fan so a comfortable journey for me compared to the other Southend fans long trip up from Essex.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

My son and I travelled to the game with my brother and his daughter as they had travelled up to us on the train the day before for an Easter visit. The trip was short work along the M56, M6, M62 and M627 and just over 1½ hours. The ground was easy to find and we arrived early and we even managed to park in Willbutts Lane, opposite the away fans entrance.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

We were early so visited the Ratcliffe Arms on the main road, Sandy Lane which is within the car park entrance. We had conversed with local fans in Willbutts Lane and again in the Ratcliffe Arms whilst watching a premier rugby league match on a large tv screen and they were all particularly friendly, including the bar staff. It was a sunny dry day so we then sat in a little park opposite the ground and met up with another brother who had travelled up on a supporters coach.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

The ground came into sight on our left having followed an easy sat nav route and it is a neat compact ground. The ground appeared clean and smart. The Sandy Lane end terrace is small and unusually, both ends behind the goals are occupied by home fans. Away fans sit in the Willbutts Lane stand with good seating and plenty of leg room. The Main Stand opposite appeared modern, with hospitality boxes incorporated within. We away supporters sat in a large stand but it was sectioned off for us to occupy half the stand from corner post Sandy Lane end to the halfway line. The views of the pitch are superb. The commentators area is high up to the rear of the Willbutts Lane stand and Ian Dowie was seen making his way up the stand on duty for Sky television. The pitch was dry and ground staff watered it just before the game and at half time, and it played well allowing both teams to play good football. The pitch looked good, given that rugby is also played at Spotland.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

The game was played in warm sunshine. The atmosphere was a bit subdued as Rochdale started tentatively and a defensive slip led to Southend grabbing the lead. Rochdale were playing a fast passing game and hit the bar, but their threat was reduced when their leading goal scorer Hogan was injured and had to limp off. Southend scored a 2nd just before half time and then straight from the kick in the 2nd half to go 3 up. Southend fans were in good voice throughout given a much needed away win. There is a food service area within the stand, offering the usual pies and drinks at reasonable cost. I can recommend the hot and tasty meat and potato pies at £3, and the beef pies were also popular. The stewards were relaxed and particularly friendly, and you could sit anywhere. The only gripe I have is that the sound system is poor and no one around me could understand any announcements including the team list being read out. The match program of 70 pages was £3 and a reasonable read.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

There was no delay in getting away from the ground and we relied on satnav to take us on the short motorways journey back to North Wales.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

This was a good day out with a result that left Rochdale in the automatic promotion 3rd place and Southend still 6th with 3 games to go. Rochdale is a traditional football ground and good to visit with the most friendly fans and stewards I have ever met at an away ground anywhere.

Attendance 3,884 (421 away)

Rochdale v  Southend United
Friday, April 18th, 2014, 3pm
League One
Tom Raffan (Southend United fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be): 

With us in sixth position in the League and hoping for the play-offs and Rochdale in second hoping to cement their place in the automatic promotion places, it was going to be an interesting encounter. In spite of the League standings, Southend tend to do well against teams at the top yet not against teams at the bottom (we had lost to Wimbledon the previous week who were fighting relegation) so it was even more important that we got maximum points.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

I took the supporters' bus to the game, which should have taken about five hours but due to an accident on the M1 ended up being closer to six, arriving at Spotland just before two. Obviously one of the benefits of going by coach is that parking is not an issue and we were dropped off outside the away stand.

3. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

This being my first visit to Spotland, I was surprised how different it was to how it looked television. It was peculiar that the gave what was, in my opinion, the best stand in the ground. It was by far the largest and was the one free of supporting pillars. The terrace spoiled the look of the ground somewhat, being significantly smaller than the other stands. Overall it was quite a nice ground, reminding of Roots Hall, although slightly less rundown! The

4. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

Southend made a mockery of the league positions by beating winning comfortably 3-0, with goals in the 12th minute, 44th minute and 11 seconds after half time. As you would expect, with match like that the away stand was rocking, but very little noise from other areas of the ground. While the stand was not shared with home fans, but the 421 of us were put at the end closest to the terrace which could have generated a really good atmosphere had the game not been so one sided.

The stewards were generally friendly, with some banter between us and them, although in the back row, next to the netting, they seemed to get very agitated that somebody was standing in the aisle, in spite of the fact that he was obstructing nobody.

With regards to food, I intended to have a hot dog, however I was told that for that particular match they were only serving pies which was a bit of a disappointment.

5. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

Although the coach was parked a little further away than where we were dropped off, it was easy to find and there was not too much traffic driving out of the city, and we made slightly better time on the return journey, arriving back home at about 10:45pm.

6. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

A brilliant day, I agree with what it says in the guide that it is one of the best away days in the Football League. Certainly eleven and a half hours on a coach well spent and definitely one I'll do again!

Attendance 3,884 (421 away)

Rochdale v Sheffield United
League One
Tuesday, April 10th, 2012, 7.45pm
Kev Gascoigne (Sheffield United fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be): 

I had read the other reviews on the Football Grounds website and it sounded as though all visiting fans had enjoyed their visit, and the information on the site said that the acoustics on the away end were very good. As we were charging towards promotion, we quickly sold out our allocation of 3,700 tickets, so I was looking forward to a lot of noise and a good performance from the Blades to keep us ahead of our local rivals, Wednesday, who were hot on our heels for the promotion place back into the Championship.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

There were a few problems on each of the routes across the Pennines, which caused a few of our fans to be late, but my TomTom complete with Homer Simpson voice got us there in just over an hour (good old Homer!!). We arrived at about 6-40pm and found a very sneaky parking spot next to a now closed pub right alongside the away end.  As we got out of the car, one of my passengers was finishing off his bottle of beer, and a couple of policemen came straight over, which we thought would mean trouble, but they were really good, telling him to finish it & leave the bottle in the car, then they advised us to head for the Studds bar attached to the ground.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

The Studds bar is quite unusual, in that you actually enter the home area of the ground to get in to it. There was a good mix of home and away fans, and we quickly got served by a very friendly young lady behind the bar. We had a good chat with the locals, all of whom were expecting us to win, and were philosophical about their own chances of staying up. I truly hope that Rochdale get back up again quickly as it was a lovely bar with really friendly people and they are passionate about their team. We wished them well, and warned them that Ched Evans was on fire, and would need to be watched very closely.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

Having only been once before to Spotland, back in the dark days of the 80’s when we slipped into the old 4th division, it was great to enter the ground and find it to be a good old traditional ground with a modern feel. The away end was packed with Blades, and there was a brilliant atmosphere. There were very few Rochdale fans in the 5,200 crowd, but they kept singing and enjoying the banter throughout, which is a great credit to them.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

Although we always thought that this was a winnable game, you always have that niggling fear that it could turn out to be a banana skin, especially with the Dale needing the points to have any chance of staying up. The Blades looked really up for it though, and Ched hit the post in the first minute. Disaster then struck though, as our worst fears were realised and Dale broke away to score, a good header from a good cross. I personally wasn’t too worried, but there was definitely a tension amongst the fans, but this did not last long, as Kevin McDonald smashed home a half volley within two minutes of Dales goal. It was not too long before the Blades fans were in full voice and football ecstacy, as we built up a 4-1 lead before half time, with super Ched getting his 33rd and 34th goals of the season, and Willo scoring a tap in after good work by Quinny. 

The atmosphere in the concourse at half time was electric, and as loud as I’ve ever heard during a half time break, as the Blades fans continued to sing and thoroughly enjoy the evening out. The second half was a bit of a damp squib football wise, with Doyle smashing in a 30 yarder to keep the Blades fans happy, but Rochdale must be commended for continuing to fight and make a game of it right to the end, scoring a second goal, which was cheered by the Blades fans who were thoroughly enjoying the banter with the home fans. They deserve great credit, and they are true football fans, as they are situated in an area with some big teams that they could support, but they are loyal to their team, even when they are rock bottom and getting a drubbing at home to a far superior side. The stewards and police handled the game very well, joining in the banter, and not trying to make 3.700 people sit down, which they had no intention of doing!

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

We got a flyer out of the ground and we were quickly back in the car, with the Homer telling us our estimated arrival time back in Sheffield was 11pm. Little did he know that we would still be stood in a queue of traffic within a mile of the ground some 40 minutes later!  It appeared that every single Blade had brought their own car and were all heading in the same direction. Eventually, and very belatedly, a police car blocked off a set of lights that was causing all the hold ups, and within minutes we were back on the M62, but this should have been done much sooner. We didn’t really mind though, as we were all in very good moods having gone back to our rightful place above Wednesday!

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

A brilliant night out, with great local people, a great venue to drink in, fabulous atmosphere in the ground with good banter being exchanged with the brilliant Dale fans, and only 4 games to go, knowing that 3 wins and a draw would seal our promotion. These are the days that true football fans love, and the way that all games should be.  Good luck to Dale, and hoping to meet you all again one day – in the Premiership!

Rochdale v  Preston North End
League One
Monday, January 2nd, 2012, 1pm
Paul Willott (Preston North End fan)

In some ways, after a decade of Preston mixing things with the 'big boys' in the Championship, a visit to Spotland is a reality hammer blow that you really have come back down in the world. That said, it is also a derby match to a certain degree, hence a reasonable degree of anticipation.

Driving to the ground I found very straightforward following the directions on this website, and having got to Spotland in plenty of time, I found suitable parking almost right outside the ground on Willbutts Lane itself.  

The clearly excellent chippy had too great a queue already, so due to the cold temperatures and young family in tow, I decided to get inside the ground and grab a hot drink. Although the seating is not unreserved, the stewards seemed to leave us well alone even though we were clearly not in our allocated seats; common sense perhaps prevailing that we had chosen our spot early to try guarantee our little one a half-decent view of the action.

The ground itself is a well modernised and tidy affair , and a healthy allocation for away supporters in a stand with no pillars to hinder the view, which is always a plus. Despite the 1pm kick-off, which I find often dampens an atmosphere, both sets of fans were quite vocal, and the banter flowed fairly freely between the home and away supporters. 

I was glad however that we had dined before the match; anyone looking forward to a pie at half-time was to be sorely disappointed, as food stocks had run out.  This seemed poor  planning on someones part, as they would surely have expected a fairly high turn out. To have run out before half time seemed pretty unbelievable. As for the much vaunted pies, the one I ate before kick-off was okay, but nothing to justify the fuss they seem to get.

As a footballing spectacle, the match was average; bettered in every department by the atmosphere. Preston displaying exactly why they are so inconsistent, and the 'Dale struggling to get some points to lift themselves out of the dreaded drop zone. For the record, the match finished 1 - 1;  but in truth, much as it pains me to say it, the Dale were the better side on the day and deserved all three points.

Traffic did not disperse too easily after the game, although whether that is in part due to the high number of away fans is hard to tell. It took at least half an hour before we reached the M62 and started to head over the Pennines in the twilight on the first part of our journey back to Kent.

Did I enjoy the day?  I must have done; otherwise I wouldn't keep coming back for more after all these years!

Rochdale v Colchester United
League One
Saturday, October 15th, 2011, 3pm
Martyn Stimson (Colchester United fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

I first came to Rochdale with a Dale supporting friend of mine when doing the 92.  He got us tickets for the play-off game against Darlington a few years ago. It was a great day out. A superb supporters’ bar, terracing and we got 120 minutes of entertaining and competitive football with goals, a sending off, then a penalty shoot out and a pitch invasion all for £12.  It was one of my most memorable football trips and certainly the best value for money. 

Rochdale is a proper football club and you know that any Rochdale fan is a true football fan, living in the shadow of so many other clubs but persisting with a team that continues achieving mediocrity.  It’s what football is really about for me so this fixture was one I was really looking forward to.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

Bus replacements around London made the train journey very unappealing so my wife and I decided to go by car.  Relatively easy journey there coming off the M62 at J21 and heading towards the town centre. Rochdale council appear to have made all council car parks free at weekends, so that proved to be a bargain.  The car park was about 10-15 minute walk from the ground and just on the edge of the town centre (near the Baum pub).

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

Having parked up we walked back towards the station to meet up with others who had come by train (and bus replacements).  We took in the Cask & Feathers, a short walk from the station, where they have a choice of ale and friendly service.  From there we took in the Flying Horse Hotel which also had a decent range of ale and friendly staff and customers.  Then we walked back to the Baum, which is my favourite pub in Rochdale with an excellent range of well kept ale.  We got a couple of large taxis from there to the ground to speed things up – the taxi, which was a minibus, cost £5 between 9 of us!  There is an excellent chip shop right outside the away turnstiles but the (friendly) stewards told us that the club weren’t allowing fans to take chips into the ground as from this year – the suggestion from the stewards was that the club should just buy the chip shop instead!   

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

It’s a good looking ground with terracing behind the goal at the Sandy Lane End and three other all-seated stands. The away fans get one side to themselves.  The view from the away end is excellent and it cost £20 to get in.  Pies looked fantastic but I didn’t actually try one and there was Thwaites available inside (although unfortunately only smooth flow from cans). 

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc..

I think Rochdale were without a key midfielder and have recently lost a striker so it may have been the right time to play them.  Either way, Colchester started at a fantastic rate, dominating play and scoring 2 goals in the first 15 minutes with the Dale not actually making any attempt at our goal in the first 20 minutes.  Unfortunately one of our centre halves was sent off after about 20 minutes (and we had no replacement on the bench) – it seemed harsh but certainly met the laws of the game, he was the last man the two players got their legs tangled and if the referee (or linesman in this case) sees it as a foul then the defender has to go. 

This changed the game completely and allowed Rochdale to get back into the game a bit. They pulled one back just before half time and then 1 minute into the second half our only remaining centre half hobbled off injured – this was going to be a tough day.  We had what seemed like a perfectly good goal disallowed and then a number of attacks broken down by what felt to me to be poor refereeing – I think it’s still a contact sport. Then Rochdale scored with a few minutes to go to earn a draw.  Although it was hard on a Colchester team that I felt deserved far more from the game, I don’t begrudge Rochdale their point. However, they’ll need to improve on their performance today to compete effectively this season but I think (and hope) they’d be alright. 

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

We walked back to the car amongst friendly fans from both clubs.  It took about 10-15 minutes.  We then drove back to the M62 without any real hold ups.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Rochdale town centre is a little run down but it has a lovely welcoming feeling about the town and in the pubs.  The club itself represents what it really means to be a football fan in my opinion.  It is a friendly club that continues to compete without throwing millions of pounds around and I highly recommend a visit for all true football fans whether it be supporting their club or just as a neutral as it really is a good day out.  If I were to move to the north-west then Rochdale would be the club I’d visit more frequently that the others.

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Updated 20th October 2016