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+ www.altyfans.co.uk » General Category » Altrincham FC First Team
 Rochdale Match Thread
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Author Topic: Rochdale Match Thread  (Read 20345 times)

Sarf London Alty

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Re: Rochdale Match Thread
« Reply #15 on: November 20, 2023, 08:44:41 PM »


It does go on a bit.....but for those who may be interested, here's my account of that 1980 Football League re-election farce from an Alty viewpoint, as printed in an issue of the Robins Review back in April 2011:



WHEN WE WERE KINGS:
ALTY IN THE APL 1979/80

PART 49: YEARS OF REFUSAL



On Wednesday, 7th May 1980, just four days after Alty had secured the inaugural Alliance Premier League (APL) title via their memorable 2-0 triumph at Gravesend & Northfleet, the Football League Management Committee visited Moss Lane in order to undertake an additional ground inspection.

Two days later, Altrincham FC received official confirmation that Moss Lane had attained the mandatory ‘A’ grading for membership of the Football League and, therefore, they were now authorised to proceed as the sole Non League club nominated for election to the Fourth Division at the League’s forthcoming AGM.

The Football League’s AGM was scheduled to be held at the Café Royal, Regent Street, Piccadilly, London on Friday, 6th June 1980, a date that the Robins’ Chairman, Noel White, had termed as Altrincham FC’s very own D-Day. The quartet of Fourth Division clubs who had finished the 1979/80 season in the designated relegation zone and, thus, were obliged to apply for re-election to the Football League comprised: Hereford United (21st position on 36 points); Darlington (22nd spot with 35 points); Crewe Alexandra (23rd place on 35 points) and Rochdale (24th position with a meagre total of 27 points).

Hereford United had only been voted into the Football League at the end of the 1971/72 season and were expected to receive ample backing for their re-election bid. Notwithstanding the fact that repeat offenders Darlington and Crewe Alexandra were both applying for re-election for the fifth time in the last 11 seasons, it was moribund Rochdale whose Football League membership was overwhelmingly adjudged to be in severe jeopardy.

The impoverished and regressive Spotland club, who were reportedly losing £2,000 per week, were entreating for their re-election for the second time in three years and had just endured an ignominious campaign, which had concluded in them being anchored to the foot of the Fourth Division with the ensuing abject statistics: played: 46; won: seven; drawn: 13; lost: 26; goals scored: 33; goals conceded: 79 and points accumulated: 27 from a possible tally of 92. Indeed, the nadir of their season had witnessed them endure a truly shameful sequence of fifteen league matches without a win, during which they had managed to score just a solitary goal in 1350 minutes (i.e. 22.5 hours) of playing time.

In addition, crowds at the decaying Spotland stadium were dwindling alarmingly and the home fixture versus SC**thorpe United on Friday, 18th April 1980 had attracted an attendance of merely 1,018 (a crowd of 2,653 congregated inside Moss Lane on the following day for the visit of AP Leamington). The apathy afflicting Rochdale’s supporters could be gauged by the revelation that a recent fundraising dinner with Jack Charlton and Lawrie McMenemy as the guest speakers had been cancelled after a total of only 23 tickets had been sold.

Tainted by this catalogue of debacles and decline, Rochdale adopted a re-election strategy that consisted of them resorting to attempts to evoke sentiment and sympathy in a campaign centred around their Club President and former Chairman, Fred Ratcliffe. “Mister Rochdale” was hoping to exploit his personal standing and the Boardroom links and friendships with other club Chairmen that he had forged over many seasons in a bid to influence voters and invoke the power of the ‘Old Pals’ Act‘ to preserve his club‘s tenure in the Football League.

Rochdale were also emphasising the continuing presence at the club of their current manager, Bob Stokoe, who had led Sunderland to that momentous 1-0 success against Leeds United at Wembley in the 1973 FA Cup Final and was well-respected in football circles. All this despite the fact that Stokoe had endeavoured to fine his players half a week’s wages after their mortifyingly inept performance in a 5-1 collapse at Tranmere Rovers and had recently depicted his onerous task at Spotland as being “a little bit like trying to raise the dead.”

In marked contrast, the progressive Robins could point to success both on and off the pitch. Their team had been crowned APL Champions; home attendances had increased to an average of just under 2,000; the club was financially sound, having made a record profit of £53,971 for the 1978/79 season, and further investment to the facilities at Moss Lane was planned in the shape of an estimated £100,000 face-lift, which included the extension and refurbishment of the dressing rooms and club offices; a brand new reception lounge for visitors and officials and the installation of new turnstiles as well as a gymnasium.   

Since January 1980, Noel White and his fellow Director, Raymond Donn, had spent many hours on the road undertaking visits to Football League clubs and canvassing the votes of their respective Chairmen. In recent weeks, a ‘flying squad’ of Altrincham FC Directors had been touring the country on a mission to drum up support for the club’s nomination, chiefly amongst the First and Second Division clubs who would control the majority of the votes in the imminent ballot.

The Robins’ enterprising and sanguine Chairman averred: “This is the best chance and the strongest case that that we have ever had. The club is geared for Fourth Division football. The only thing that can defeat us is sympathy for the clubs who have finished in the bottom four again. On merit, we should get in.“

For the Robins’ third stab at gaining admission to the Football League, the club took a party of six officials down to the Café Royal although only two of them would be permitted to attend the actual AGM, which was scheduled to commence at 2.00pm. However, the prospect of a tension-filled few hours beckoned, as the re-election issue was to be the final item on the agenda.

The somewhat arcane re-election procedure read as follows. All of the 44 clubs comprising the First and Second Divisions were each granted a voting right. The remaining 48 Third and Fourth Division clubs had six voting rights between them and the President of the Football League (who, at that juncture, was the Newcastle United Chairman, Lord Westwood), also possessed one voting right. Each voting right entitled the holder to cast four votes i.e. to select four clubs from the five candidates seeking membership, namely Hereford United; Darlington; Crewe Alexandra; Rochdale and Altrincham. So, the sum of 51 voting rights equated to a total of 204 votes to be allocated.

The votes cast in the eventual Football League re-election poll for the 1979/80 season were as follows: Darlington: 49; Crewe Alexandra: 48; Hereford United: 48; Rochdale: 26 and Altrincham: 25. If the Robins had received just one additional vote and tied with the Spotland club, a second ballot featuring only those two candidates would have ensued, in which the eligible electors were then obliged to cast a single vote for the club of their choice. In the two preceding instances when it had proved necessary to hold a second round of voting, the Non League club had, indeed, prevailed on each occasion and, hence, had secured admission into the Football League (Hereford United defeating Barrow in 1972 and Wigan Athletic overcoming Southport in 1978).   

Alty‘s initial emotions of intense heartache and sheer disbelief at this cruel news that they had failed to displace Rochdale by just two votes were subsequently exacerbated by disillusionment and the impression that they had been cheated, when it emerged that two clubs had actually omitted to vote and the absence of their ballot papers had not been detected until after the AGM had concluded.

The first of the culprits to be identified were Second Division Luton Town, whose delegation of representatives had been late in arriving for the meeting after ostensibly getting held up in London’s traffic. Their Chairman, Denis Mortimer, duly released a statement: “The traffic was bad and we were delayed. To be fair to everyone involved, I am not going to reveal who we would have voted for.”

Grimsby Town were later unmasked as being the second guilty party in this electoral chaos, when it was disclosed that the Chairman of the newly-promoted Third Division Champions, Dick Middleton, had contrived to sit in the main body of the hall in error, rather than proceed to his rightful place at the front amongst the voting members. Consequently, he was not handed his ballot paper.

The Manchester Evening News’ Non League Football correspondent, Doug Peacock, succeeded in buttonholing an unnamed Grimsby Town official as they scurried away from the AGM, who sheepishly divulged their account of the cause of this farcical confusion: “We understood that in previous years, representatives of newly-promoted clubs stayed among the non-voting-members of the Third and Fourth Divisions during the meeting. It was a misunderstanding.”

However, a radically different theory pertaining to the reason for the absence of four of this total of eight uncast votes was subsequently expounded by Graham Heathcote in Andy Mitten’s article on Altrincham FC in the November 2004 issue of Four Four Two magazine, when the Alty midfielder alleged that: “One bloke who promised to support us got pissed and fell asleep."

Just to add insult to injury, the Robins’ officials intimated that both of the clubs involved had previously indicated that they were in favour of electing Alty into the Fourth Division. A crestfallen Noel White remarked: “Two clubs did not vote and they were as near as you can get to being ones we could bank on. But they did not arrive and now we feel a little bit cheated. We are very, very disappointed because we went flat out for the league this time. We only asked to be judged on merit and I don’t think we have been.”

Almost 31 years on from this fiasco, at least there is some, albeit belated, consolation to be derived from the fact that both Luton Town and Grimsby Town now find themselves as Non League clubs playing in the same division as Alty.

Meanwhile, a dejected Tony Sanders was unable to mask his justifiable indignation and frustration at the Robins’ rebuff by the closed shop of the Football League: “What happened at this annual meeting was not only a dreadful setback for Altrincham FC, it was a slap in the face for the whole APL. We could win the APL again next season but, unless the present system is changed, we might as well not bother turning up at the AGM. It’s like playing in the FA Cup Final and being told you may not get the trophy even if you win the match.“   

Alty’s burgeoning sense of injustice at this narrow rejection of their case for membership of the Football League was compounded by subsequent revelations that Rochdale had, in fact, sold their Spotland ground for £175,000 two months ago (with the anonymous buyer leasing it back to them at a rental of £35,000 pa) and yet were now about to launch a public appeal in effort to raise £50,000 to be directed to paying off debts and funding the team for the following season. There were also reports that only six players had been named on the club’s retained list at the end of the 1979/80 season and, to date, three of these had already declined terms to remain at Spotland for another year.

On Tuesday, 24th June 1980, the whole sorry travesty of justice then plumbed new depths when Bob Stokoe resigned as the manager of Rochdale FC. A report published in the Daily Express on the following day carried a quote from Stokoe in which he confessed that he had made up his mind to quit his role prior to the end of the season but had deferred the public announcement of his decision until now for a specific and all-important motive: “I held back because I didn‘t want to hinder the club’s application for re-election.”

This gradual unveiling of the turmoil at Spotland elicited the following pointed observation from Noel White: “I’m surprised that the true state of affairs that seems to exist at Rochdale was not explored before the annual meeting.”

Stokoe’s rather ignoble and equivocal resignation even prompted a trenchant censure from the Chairman of the APL (and then Chairman of Maidstone United), Jim Thompson, whose personal statement about the controversial affair accused the former Spotland boss of “a deliberate move to deceive the clubs voting into believing that Rochdale FC was going to have his services for the coming season and, thus, affect their decision.” His scathing rebuke went on to pose the question as to whether such a misleading action was “tantamount to bringing the game into disrepute and, if it is, whether any action is going to be taken against Mr Stokoe.”

In response, Bob Stokoe (in contradiction of a disclosure previously cited in the national press), denied these charges: “I have nothing to hide. Mr Thompson has been misinformed and I would willingly appear before any commission with a clear conscience.” The Football League did not take any subsequent action against either Rochdale FC or Bob Stokoe regarding this whole distasteful saga.

When the dust had finally settled, Tony Sanders turned his thoughts to the task ahead of him and issued the following resolute and passionate vow of intent: “Our aim, without doubt, is to surpass last season’s achievements and to knock on the door of the Football League so loud that notice has got to be taken.”

Indeed, the 1980/81 season would prove to be the most successful one in the history of Altrincham FC to date. But that’s another story.

It’s still shocking all these years later how we were cheated twice in two years. Hope this gets reprinted in full for the home game. It’s brilliantly written to boot.

Onto the actual match, they’ve only won 3/10 on their own ground & managed to concede 17 in the process. Both sides play a similar style & I’d expect goals at both ends. Ideally 2-1 to us but maybe a Desmond. Newby to score for us & Sinclair for them (obviously). Suspect we’ll take about 400ish, think we’ve sold about 160ish so far but pay on the day costs the same so suspect a lot will just sort tomorrow.
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Saughall Robin

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Re: Rochdale Match Thread
« Reply #16 on: November 20, 2023, 10:17:55 PM »

PS. Round about 58 years since the last time at Spotland. Wonder if it's changed much? 🤔😂

Hope the result is the same as last time! 😉

Come on you Supers 👍 🇦🇹 🏆 🥇 🇦🇹 🍷
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"While we're in the North, we might as well take on the Cheshire League Champions and give them a good hammering" Bill Leivers, 1967 (before Altrincham 7, Cambridge United 1)

Alty Dave

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Re: Rochdale Match Thread
« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2023, 10:56:32 AM »

I refuse to pay £24, criminal.

Will stream the game and hope for better coverage than Saturday gone at Eastleigh.

Hoping for a good result. let's get at them from the off. Come on Alty
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swindellsworth

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Re: Rochdale Match Thread
« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2023, 11:15:41 AM »

Saw our reserves play there in the woeful Rigby era , lost 2-1, our best player by a mile was called Steve Conaghan , no idea what happened to him !!!  Last time there in the noughties against Macc with a friend who supports them ( guess who i favoured ) .  Very nice ground Spotland , going despite the scandelous £24 , come on Alty 🤞
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Nom de plume

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Re: Rochdale Match Thread
« Reply #19 on: November 21, 2023, 04:32:57 PM »

Last time I was there I saw Rochdale play Stoke in the FA Cup, about 10 years ago. Two things impressed me: what a massive and powerful bloke Arnautovich was and how universally ridiculed is Robbie Savage. He was there in some commentating capacity and he was heckled and sung about all throught the match. The sound editor must have had to work overtime to eradicate the expletive- ridden chants.🤣🤣
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distancetraveller

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Re: Rochdale Match Thread
« Reply #20 on: November 21, 2023, 07:29:34 PM »

Kick off now 2000 hrs
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jhcorbett

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Re: Rochdale Match Thread
« Reply #21 on: November 21, 2023, 07:37:34 PM »

Gez Sithole starts and good to see Kossy back in the match squad
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Stuartalty

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Re: Rochdale Match Thread
« Reply #22 on: November 21, 2023, 07:42:05 PM »

Will Radio Robins be transmitting this evening?
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ianpickles

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Re: Rochdale Match Thread
« Reply #23 on: November 21, 2023, 08:16:18 PM »

Is the video feed as bad for everyone else as it is for me?
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Altyrocket

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Re: Rochdale Match Thread
« Reply #24 on: November 21, 2023, 08:22:28 PM »

Yes it's crap, oh and we're one down

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Altyrocket

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Re: Rochdale Match Thread
« Reply #25 on: November 21, 2023, 08:22:59 PM »

Off completely now
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Amsterdam Alty

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Re: Rochdale Match Thread
« Reply #26 on: November 21, 2023, 08:56:00 PM »

Watched the stream for the first half, I'll only comment on what I saw:
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Alty Dave

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Re: Rochdale Match Thread
« Reply #27 on: November 21, 2023, 09:04:08 PM »

We were as poor as the stream! Poor penalty miss, should be level. Lets hope we do better second half, many off form performances thus far
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Amsterdam Alty

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Re: Rochdale Match Thread
« Reply #28 on: November 21, 2023, 09:53:25 PM »

We are bad tonight.

I wrote a long breakdown of why, then I realised it was good for me to do and not for you to read.

One thing though, Newby is not a left winger.

The game isn't even over yet.
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distancetraveller

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Re: Rochdale Match Thread
« Reply #29 on: November 21, 2023, 10:03:14 PM »

Not sure why the Alty commentator mentioned that the delay to the kick off could have had a bearing on the result.

Clutching at straws a bit there fella.  Bit of a must win game on Sat now or the early momentum to the season will be lost. I do acknowledge our fixtures of late have been tough.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2023, 10:05:52 PM by distancetraveller »
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 Rochdale Match Thread