In, Out, Shake it All About

The verdict on the Hill’s new signings

Sorry for the lack of updates, folks. I’ve been a bit busy lately, and I’ve had other priorities other than this site. Hopefully, it will be moving server soon and will have a new (black and white) design – I really hope it can become a proper, regularly-updated fanzine. If any Dale fans fancy becoming contributors, just give us a bell at boothman-at-gmail-dot-com. I’m also trying to think of a catchy name, so if you have any ideas, email me at that address.

Well we’ve celebrated our 100th birthday, although you wouldn’t have guessed with the absence of coverage in the local paper, same with the BBC website. May I first congratulate all those connected with the Dale over the years on achieving the honour of keeping a small town club like ours in the League for so long. Some may say we’ve had 100 years of obscurity, but in truth we have punched above our weight for so many years, and that is down to men like Reg Jenkins, Fred Ratcliffe, and more recently, Dave Kilpatrick.

Hopefully the “revolutionary” tripod of Chris Dunphy, Keith Hill and Dave Flitcroft can continue what has so far been a flawless centenary year (2007 has been very, very good for us so far). With Hill’s obvious enthusiasm and positivity, Flitcroft’s jovial manner and training expertise, and Dunphy’s so-far faithful backing, we can make real strides this year and with a bit of luck be right up there at the upper echelons of League Two come May next year.

The silly season started slowly, but solidly. Defender Mark Jackson and striker Clive Moyo-Modise were the only two released players – both of which I agreed with. Jackson had a reputation as being injury-prone before he came to the Dale, and did nothing to dispel that. His performances for the Dale (the few he actually played), were not altogether catastrophic, but I think there are players of his calibre already at the club – one’s which can actually sustain match fitness for more than a couple of weeks. Moyo-Modise looked okay in his few starts for the club, even earning a call-up to the South Africa U-21s – but the fact that he was loaned to a relegation-threatened club three leagues below ours (Mossley AFC, of the Northern Premier) surely spelled the end for Clive, and he was released without starting a game under Hill.

Question marks hung over the heads of Matt Gilks and Alan Goodall coming up to the transfer window, both of which have been answered with the signing of goalkeeper James Spencer and full-back Tom Kennedy, of Stockport and bury respectfully. By all accounts, Spencer has been touted as the “new Gilks” on various message-boards, a strong shot-stopper with less-than-perfect kicking ability, and an unsure commander of his own area. While the signing doesn’t fill me with as much excitement as that of Kennedy, we can only wait and see – don’t forget, Hill has yet to disappoint us with a signing so far (barring that of Charlie “Invisible” Comyn Platt). Spencer was once rated highly as a youngster at Stockport, so we’ll give the benefit of the doubt to Hill at this moment. Our other local signing is Tom Kennedy, a left-back released by bury, who has a proven track-record in League Two. Apparently he has a “disagreement” with Chris Casper and was refused a new contract, or didn’t sign one. It’s very hard to know the full story when the bury Rivals site censored an interview with TK the moment he signed for the Dale. Whatever the reason, the only thing that matters is that he’s at Rochdale, a fact which I am very happy to report. Less good is the fate of Gilks (destined for Championship football – possibly Cardiff) and Goodall (who will be playing in League One next year). They have been excellent servants for Rochdale A.F.C., but in the end, their own (or their agent’s) greed has outweighed the fact that we will be promotion candidates next year. Gilks I can see the reasoning for (unhappy at the fans, feels he can play in the Prem), but Goodall less so (guaranteed first-teamer, even when he’s playing badly).

Looking back at the end of last season, a big thank-you must be said to winger Ben Muirhead and striker Adam le Fondre, who contributed massively to our exciting form, which was filled with goals. The former of the two has been signed today, officially. It had been rumoured that Ben was desperate to come back to the Dale, and with Bradford seemingly unaware of his talent, he was released and signed for us. This despite some so-called “bigger clubs” expressing interest for the former Man United trainee. I wish to welcome Ben back to Spotland, and wish him luck in the coming season. The latter of our two loan-signings mentioned above, le Fondre, has a less certain future. Apparently Stockport manager Jim Gannon slapped an £80k price-tag on him – which is way too much for a guy that can’t even get in the County first-team. I’d like to see le Fondre back, even in a third striker role, but I would not like to see £80k spent on him. £80k is at least £60k too much.

The revolution also gained two more comrades today, in the shape of former Man City defender Nathan D’Laryea (from now on referred to as Dairylea) and ex-Oldham youth striker Kallum Higginbotham. Little information is available on both, but it seems that Dairylea (who’s brother plays for Mansfield) can play centre-back or left-back, and Higginbotham is a striker who scored quite a few goals in last years Oldham reserves. Only time will tell for these two youngsters.

A note on the signing of Dairylea – where does this leave Charlie Comyn-Platt? By my reckoning, Nathan Stanton, Rory McArdle, Lee Crooks and now Dairylea are all above him for a place in the team. How must he feel, having played at League One standard suddenly to be shoved down the pecking order at Rochdale? I bet he’s not exactly doing a jig.

Predicted Starting Lineup (next season):

Ramsden, Stanton, McArdle, Kennedy
Muirhead, Perkins, Doolan, Rundle
Murray, Dagnall

Subs: Rigby, Dairylea, Jones, Prendergast (remember him), Higginbotham (or le Fondre).

Reserves: Crooks, Thompson, Brown, Warburton, Comyn-Platt

Viva la Revolution!


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