Hitting the net: RAFC on t’web

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from a Mr. Elliot Sutcliffe, asking for advice about a new site he was making, chronicling the events of a season following the Dale in 09/10, very much in the vein of the previous season’s 101 Project. I blustered through a respectable response (hopefully), but after that, it got me thinking; what other sites has the internet to offer for us few hardy fans?

There are, as is obligatory, a few ‘footballing network’ sites out there, the most notable of which is the generally up-to-date and busy RochdaleAFC.com (which belongs to the ClubFanzine network), but also includes the decent-but-dead DaleFans.co.uk (a Rupert Murdoch enterprise of all things), the identikit Rochdale Vital, and the childish Rochdale Mad, whch proclaims our name to be ‘Rochdale FC’, calmly omitting a letter from our acronym without reason and bizarrely featuring the top-half of Desmond the Dragon’s head on its banner.

RochdaleAFC.com‘s forum is without doubt the hive of internet activity concerning Dale, the first stop for transfer gossip, opinion and wildly inaccurate rumours about opposition players’ sexuality. It’s been going eleven years now, though not always on the same network, and still remains extraordinarily active in times of high excitement, which admittedly isn’t often. More than once have conversations on the board been mentioned in official RAFC press releases, and have altered policy at a boardroom level (remember the Premium Match scheme U-turn?). It is, in short, the home of (most) Dale fans on the web, its 1,600 forum members suggesting at least half of all regular Daleys have been there at one point.

Away from the community, forum-related aspect of things, there remains little else. The Rivals site does publish the occasional feature article – like Programmes of the Past – but usually entrenches itself firmly in the arena of news reports; “Thompson and Toner sign new deals”, “Accrington keeper Arthur joins up” etc. Or should I say it did all this… the Sky-owned Rivals network has mysteriously closed down in the last couple of days, leaving a simple “Rivals.net is currently unavailable” message. Rochdale Vital is updated often, and is fairly informative on a basic level, but features such headlines as ‘Dale Land Leed’s Keeper’, which begs the question ‘Who are Leed?’. And as for Rochdale Mad… the less said the better.

Aside from this website, Richard Eden-Maughan’s 101 Project, which had its home on Facebook, was the only other place which offered any decent perspective on events on the field. Its 170 group members signify it may have been tragically under-read; not often do things about Rochdale get written with a humour and real knowledge of the club, and they should be cherished when they do appear. With the 46 games over and recorded, it remains to be seen what, if anything, will happen next season with the project.

There are a few other websites knocking around worth more than passing glance; the eccentric BURKS continue their crusade to see as many Dale matches as possible from their spiritual home of Bath University. 2009/10 will be the BURKS 30th anniversary, an impressive feat no doubt, and the website remains up-to-date and almost scarily well-documented; who knew that the BURKS accounted for 0.84% of the crowd against Barnet in the FA Cup first round? Well, nobody up until now. Another non-commercial venture UptheDale.com looks busy but is strangely unreadable, with paragraphs placed on top of others for no apparent reason. Ignore these however and there lies a decent stats page revealing our most-played opponent to be Hartlepool United, amongst other interestingly useless facts. There also exists a dubious fixtures list for the 09/10 season featuring teams’ nicknames instead of actual names, which is either a real piece of cunning or a real piece of daftness; I tend towards the former.

‘Fishully, the ‘Fishul RAFC site is the ‘fishul source of all ‘fishul news. Once derided, the site improved no end under the command of press officer Mike Brookes, but in the close season Brookes has fled to Northumbria, and the club are now looking for a replacement. To unlock all of the site’s advantages you must purchase a DaleWorld account, which entitles you to listen to Dave Flitcroft say the word “lads” ten times in a single sentence, but also watch hilarious archives of Gareth Griffiths falling over, or John Doolan’s kung-fu acrobatics, which almost justifies the £4 a month fee at once. If you don’t want to pay, the club handily transcribes parts of most interviews so the average fan can still keep up with things.

The Youth team also host their very own website, called, somewhat misleadingly, The Official Website of Rochdale AFC, but there is little information for your average fan. The Dale Trust also have a website, which is currently featuring the membership window for the upcoming season. The best feature of the site is the Ernie Cooksey Player of the Month award, which has been going since 2004, and since been renamed in honour of the late great Ernie. It would be interesting to know who has won the award most often and other pointless facts, but still, it’s not hard to find out yourself.

So that leaves us with Elliot’s The Big Headed, Iranian, Peter Crouch as the newcomer to this arena. “I intend to blog the highs and the lows in Dale’s quest for promotion, and our quest to cement our places as hardcore Dale fans.” says Sutcliffe. I for one wish him the best of luck.

The Big Headed, Iranian, Peter Crouch
RochdaleAFC.com (ClubFanzine)
DaleFans.co.uk (Rivals.net)
Rochdale Vital
Rochdale Mad
101 Project (Facebook)
RAFC Official site
RAFC Youth Team site
Dale Trust site

Written by Matt Boothman on 2nd July 2009.

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