Rochdale v Sheffield United
Tuesday, April 10th, 2012, 7.45pm
By Kev Gascoigne
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!
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