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View from the opposition - Rotherham
View from the opposition - Rotherham
Friday, 1st Aug 2008 15:00

To accompany many of our season's predictions, we are interviewing an opposition fan to see how they see things happening for their side and Dale in 2008-9. We begin with Rotherham fan Gricehead.

How was last season for you?
It started off well. New squad, young enthusiastic manager, the (previous) administration and 10 point deduction behind us. A good start to the league programme had us up there in the promotion places, and the fans were already planning for League One. Apart from the shock defeat to Forest Green in the FA Cup replay, and the 4-2 drubbing by Rochdale at Millmoor (best two teams to come to Millmoor all season) we were solid. 
It all started going wrong in January when we entered a run of 7 games against the 5 clubs. MK Dons x2, Peterborough, Wycombe x2, Hereford and an up and coming Stockport. We lost our best player, Stephen Brogan, to a horrific compound fractured leg in the first game at MK, and went on to take just 2 points from those 7 games.
Incredibly, we were still 5th after that little run, but worse was to follow. News started appearing about the players not being paid, about debts to the Inland Revenue. Our top scorer walked out after refusing to sign up to the wage deferral, and was never seen again. Stories of woe came out about how we'd been raped over our flood insurance the previous summer and how the electrics had had to be replaced in one of the stands to get a safety certificate. But what it came down to in the end was financial mismanagement, and an over-enthusiastic wage budget. Whilst most of the fans had been hoping for a upper-mid-table season of consolidation, the board had been assuming an immediate bounce back up the league. That sort of circle never gets squared, and administration and a ten point deduction followed.
Depression set in. We won 1 out of 8 in March, and by the time we put a 4 game winning streak together to end the season it was already over. 9th place would have been acceptable to most fans at the start of the campaign (although being above the Diresh*tes would have been preferable), but the stench of admin and another spring of facing winding up orders and looking for new owners spoiled yet another year.

Has your club's Summer activities lived up to expectations?

I doubt there are many lower league clubs who have had quite as many "activities", so yes, I guess. Lets see:
  • New Ownership with as yet unknown financial backers
  • Decades of football history thrown away through a petty dispute over cold hard cash with a previous owner
  • Facing untold years of football at an athletic stadium...
  • the city of our fiercest rivals
  • Travelling to a faceless industrial estate to buy/collect season tickets
  • 15 point deduction? Who knows.

And to top this off, despite acknowledging that last season's playing budget was too high, we've still brought in more players than we've let go. Confidence of this season not ending like the last two? less than 50%

Where do you think you will finish next season and why?
I'll be happy to finish next season. With the way the Football League are taking points off people at the moment, a tally > 0 might be enough to stay up. I think our gross points tally will be in the mid seventies. Challenging the playoffs with no deduction, fighting with Macclesfield and Notts County if we get minus 15.
Where do you think Dale will finish next season and why?
On the surface, Rochdale are the epitomy of a well run League 2 outfit. Small but loyal crowd, small but well managed playing budget, etc. But where do you go from Wembley? History suggests losing playoff finalists at this level don't usually bounce back. Presumably your finances are a bit healthier after Wembley and the Glen Murray cash?
On the other hand, League Two looks wide open this year. The big guns (MK and Peterborough) have gone, being replaced by financial strugglers (Bournemouth/Luton). I wouldn't tip any of the four relegated sides to go back up, and bookies seem to have Bradford as favourites. Bradford ffs!
In summary, you'll be up there. Keep playing the attacking, pacey, wing-based footy and find someone with a knack of putting them in the net regularly, and you've as good a chance as anyone of a top three finish.

Photo: Action Images

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