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Rochdale win promotion for the first time since 1969

Rochdale supporters celebrate at Spotland

Jubilation at Spotland as 'Dale fans celebrate their side's promotion

1969 - the year man walked on the moon. And the year, Rochdale FC last won promotion.

So when the League Two club finally escaped the gravitational pull of football's lowest tier, the feeling at Spotland was, understandably, out of this world.

At the final whistle of their 1-0 win over Northampton (17 April 2010), thousands of long-suffering supporters poured onto the pitch to celebrate their side's launch into a higher orbit.

Rochdale players in the dressing room
It was very emotional [when the crowd ran onto the pitch]. And to be there, considering the journey we've been on, I'm over the moon.
Keith Hill, Rochdale manager

It was a special moment for Dale's 41-year old manager Keith Hill.

Keith started off as the junior team coach at Spotland before finally taking over the reins of the first team in 2007.

"I'm really happy," he said. "The supporters have waited a long time for this. It's also a sigh of relief, to be honest.

"We never do things the easy way, but we've won the 25 games that we expected to win this season and we've been promoted today."

Adding: "It was very emotional [when the crowd ran onto the pitch]. And to be there, considering the journey we've been on, I'm over the moon."

He and assistant manager Dave Flicroft were only supposed to be in caretaker charge, but have propelled the club to two successive playoff runs and now promotion in three seasons.

'Rochdale Division'

To be honest, Dale's promotion was almost a matter of time, having ridden high at the top of Division Two for much of the season.

Colin Cavanah runs the club's unofficial website and was born in 1974, the year Rochdale dropped back into what was then the Fourth Division.

"It's been worth the wait to get there," he said. "It was an absolutely fantastic day! The weather helped as well but it was absolutely fantastic stuff."

'Dale fans have enjoyed success just once in their history, winning promotion to the old Third Division 41 years ago.

In fact, Rochdale's tenure in English football's basement level has been so long that League Two has been cruelly dubbed by rival fans, "the Rochdale division".

It's a label that's hung heavily around Rochdale's neck.

But Chairman Chris Dunphy said they can now shrug off that label and are already planning for League One football next season.

Club history

Formed in 1907, Rochdale finally entered the Third Division North in 1921 after several applications to join the Football League were rejected.

But it wasn't until 1969 that they managed to escape the basement of English football under the stewardship of manager Bob Stokoe.

But the glory days at Spotland didn't last long. They were relegated back into football's lowest tier in 1974 after a dismal season which saw only two wins and crowds dwindle to three figures.

Rochdale's only other day in the sun was back in 1961/62 when they reached the final of the League Cup - the only club from the bottom division to reach the final.

Sadly, after seeing off the likes of Southampton, Doncaster Rovers, Charlton Athletic, York City and Blackburn Rovers to get to Wembley, they lost to Norwich City over two legs.

Keith Hill is the special guest on Late Kick Off tonight - he'll be talking about the challenge of League One with Tony Livesey at 00:15am on BBC One North West.

Rochdale 1-0 Northampton
17 Apr 10 |  League Two




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