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Accrington Stanley 1 v 2 Rochdale
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Wednesday, 1st January 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Played For Both: Accrington Stanley v Dale
Tuesday, 31st Dec 2019 09:00 by Chaff

After a busy festive period, which has seen us eat and drink too much to bother with website stuff, we continue our Played for Both feature with a midfielder who played for both Rochdale and Accrington.

Peter Cavanagh joined Rochdale in June 2012 as John Coleman began to build his squad at Rochdale. It was widely predicted that Cavanagh would join Dale as Coleman was evidently looking to sign players he had worked with before and he’d made Cavanagh Accrington’s youngest ever captain while they were both at Accrington. Cavanagh is still regarded highly by Dale fans for his impressive, yet brief spell at Spotland.

Cavanagh started his football career at Liverpool, like most ex Accrington players! He actually started his career as a right back as well while at Liverpool and at Accrington but later moved into the middle of the pitch to become a busy defensive midfielder, known for breaking up the play and starting attacks.

He left his hometown club after failing to win a professional contract and moved to Accrington in September 2001 and became a hugely integral part of their rise through non-league, into the football league. Cavanagh spent the best part of a decade at the Crown Ground with John Coleman and it wasn’t long into his spell there before Coleman appointed him captain. He went on to lift the Northern Premier League Cup and Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy in 2002, the Northern Premier League the season after and then the Conference National Trophy in 2005-06 as Accrington finally reached the football league after years of rebuilding the club following its demise in 1966.

During his time in non-league, he was given international recognition (of sorts) when he was awarded an England C cap.

Cavanagh went on to make 226 appearances for Accrington, scoring 22 goals before he got himself in a spot of bother!

In 2009, Cavanagh was one of five Accrington Stanley players to bet on his own team to lose in the final match of the season against Bury. This was common knowledge at the time as I remember being on my way to Rochdale’s game and everyone in the area backing Bury that day as the Accrington players had apparently been out the night before on a stag do or the end of season do or something like that. Anyway, he, along with Jay Harris, David Mannix, former Dale trialist Andy Mangan and Robbie Williams all received bans ranging from 5-12 months for breaching FA betting rules. Cavanagh specifically received an 8 month ban from football, for allegedly placing a £5 bet on the game in which Accrington did lose! He was also fine £3,500. Imagine being fined that much and banned for the best part of a year for the sake of a £5 bet!

After his ban was up, Cavanagh went to sign for non-league side Fleetwood Town on a two-year contract and went on to play 39 games, scoring 3 goals before leaving to join up again with John Coleman in 2012.

The whole Coleman era was plagued with horribleness, but the signing of Cavanagh was one of the plus points I think it’s fair to say. He spent two years at Dale and went on to play 56 games in all competitions, scoring twice and was also given the captain’s arm band after Gary Jones had left the club in controversial circumstances thanks to John Coleman, something I’ll never forgive him for. One thing Cavanagh was, was a leader!

His first season saw him play 35 games as he marshalled the middle of the park being a nuisance for opposition sides. Unfortunately, this also meant he got booked an awful lot! He picked up 8 yellow cards in his first season and 6 yellow cards in his second season from just 21 games and was sent off in the second game of the season away at Burton Albion. That said, even now, we use Cavanagh as an example of the sort of battling midfielder we have lacked, probably since he left in all honesty.

With Coleman getting the sack at Rochdale and Cav being the wrong side of 30 at this point, it seemed likely that returning manager Keith Hill would be looking to rid the squad of players he didn’t class as his own and Cavanagh was released at the end of his two-year deal.

A trip back to non-league followed for the scouser as he went and joined Altrincham that summer and went on to play 34 games without scoring. He picked up 11 bookings and a red card in that time!!

His playing career ended the following year when he joined Southport as player/coach but never made an appearance. The move saw him link up with another former Dale and Accrington player, Paul Carden. In fact, when deciding who to do the write up for, we had a choice of about 30 players who played for both clubs!

Nowadays, Cavanagh is back over in his home town but coaching on the other end of Stanley Park as he’s currently coaching Everton’s Academy.

Photo: Action Images

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