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Rotherham United 0 v 1 Rochdale
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 7th December 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Played For Both: Rotherham United v Dale
Thursday, 5th Dec 2019 11:50 by Chaff

With us travelling to Rotherham this weekend, our latest “Played For Both” is an ex Miller and ex Daley, and one of the best natural number 9’s we’ve ever had.

I doubt there are any Dale fans who didn’t rate Alfie. He signed on loan from Stockport County, made a big, albeit brief impact before heading back to Edgeley Park but soon found himself back at Spotland on a permanent deal where he would go on to have a great spell at Dale before having to be sold to effectively keep the club going. Another example where we sold a player for a fraction of what we should have got for him. Not too dissimilar from the Rickie Lambert situation.

Adam Le Fondre came through the ranks at his hometown club Stockport County and began making a bit of a name for himself as a natural finisher. His first season as a professional saw him play 22 times for the then League One club in all competitions, scoring 5 goals but it wasn’t enough to save Stockport from relegation.

Stockport found themselves in the Rochdale division the following year and he scored 8 goals in 26 games in a season that included County doing the double over Dale.

It was the 2006/07 season, under Jim Gannon that he came to Dale on loan. Prior to that, he’d scored 6 goals in 19 games for Stockport including a 4 goal haul at home to Wrexham in a 5-2 win. But for whatever reason, Gannon didn’t want him at Stockport and allowed him to come to Dale on loan.

Alfie joined Dale in January 2007 and had an immediate impact, scoring twice on his debut at home to Milton Keynes in a 5-0 thrashing. Further goals against Torquay and Accrington followed before he went back to Stockport to finish out the season.

He came on as a half time substitute in one of the greatest Dale matches of all time, the 7-2 smashing over at Edgeley Park. He couldn’t do anything to save County that day but he soon knew how much we appreciated him as the entire away end sang “You should have stayed with us!”

He must have heard that as he joined on a permanent deal in August 2007 for a fee believed to be around £35,000 at the time. An absolute bargain as he would go on to score 17 goals for Dale that season, including a hattrick against Accrington at home. His goals were a huge factor in us having our first ever trip to Wembley as we got to the Playoff final. Alfie’s former club Stockport County beat us 3-2.

The following season saw Alfie score even more. He was sensational. He scored 21 goals, including a hattrick against Barnet in the FA Cup. A season where Dale footballed teams to death with fast, attacking football that was an absolute pleasure to watch. That was the season we should have gone up but instead came up short again in the playoffs, this time it was defeat in the semi-finals to Gillingham.

It became apparent that money was tight at Dale and that Alfie was going to be highly sought after and despite starting the season at Rochdale, he left the club in the transfer window with Dale having to sell for a fraction of what he was worth just to keep the club going effectively. A fee believed to be £150,000 was enough to get us to sell. A heartbreakingly low amount.

Typically, he went to Rotherham and smashed goals in left, right and bloody centre in League Two. Just the 30 goals bagged that season in the red and white of Rotherham including one against us just a couple of weeks after leaving. That said, Rochdale secured that long-awaited promotion that season by taking 3rd place, while Rotherham were beaten in the playoffs.

Alfie scored another 24 goals the following season for the League Two club who this time failed to make the playoffs and Alfie was again highly pursued by a host of clubs in higher divisions.

He scored 4 goals in the first 5 games of the 2011/12 for Rotherham before securing a move to Championship Reading for a fee believed to be around £350,000. He’d scored 58 goals in 98 games for the Millers.

Alfie scored 12 goals in the remainder of that season in the Championship and helped Reading win promotion to the Premier League.

His first season in the Premier League was successful from a personal perspective despite Reading going straight back down to the Championship. He scored 14 goals including goals against Manchester United, Arsenal, Newcastle and a brace at home to Chelsea among others.

Le Fondre stayed at Reading the following season, scoring 15 in 40 before moving to Cardiff City for an undisclosed fee but only managed 3 goals before being shipped out on loan to Bolton Wanderers for the rest of the season where he managed to score 8 goals in 17 games. He was out of favour still at Cardiff and joined Wolverhampton Wanderers on loan but this would prove an unsuccessful move as well.

Further loan spells with Wigan and Bolton again followed before he eventually left Cardiff City to sign a permanent deal with financially troubled Bolton Wanderers. His two year spell at Bolton saw him score 7 in 38 games, although he only started 17 of those games.

After leaving Bolton last year, he was ridiculously linked by one website, with a move back to Rochdale but opted to slum it in Australia instead. He emigrated and went to sign for A-League side Sydney FC where he’s scored an impressive 25 goals in 36 games over there. He’s got 7 in 7 this season and scored a brace away at Western United only this past weekend.

A superb goalscorer when given the service and a player I’m sure both Dale fans and Rotherham fans will remember fondly (pun fully intended!)

Photo: Action Images

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