|Rochdale 1 v 1 Newcastle United|
Saturday, 4th January 2020 Kick-off 12:31
Played For Both - Dale v Newcastle United (FA Cup)
Thursday, 2nd Jan 2020 16:00 by TVOS
We've a special FA Cup "Played For Both" for this weekend and TVOS has kindly agreed to help us with it as we were a bit young to fully appreciate this former Daley and Toon Army player.
Rochdale manager Dave Sutton made a big overhaul of his squad in the summer of 1991, bringing in proven players with plenty of pedigree in the lower leagues and even breaking the club’s transfer record in the process to entice Andy Flounders from Scunthorpe.
Among his new recruits was the free transfer signing of Chesterfield’s John Ryan, who had appeared against Dale for The Spireites in the previous two campaigns.
His name was also familiar to football fans in this area as he had started his career with Oldham and then returned there after spells away at Newcastle and Sheffield Wednesday. But more on that later…
Listed as a full-back on most reputable sources, it was no surprise when Sutton handed Ryan the number 3 shirt ahead of his debut against York on the opening day of the 1991/92 season.
However, that was in an era before squad numbers and under the watch of a manager who gave striker Steve Whitehall the number 2 shirt, so whatever number Ryan sported bore no relevance to where he played.
He was at left-back on occasions, but also appeared on the left-wing and the right-wing, where you would expect to see a player wearing number 7.
That player at the start of the season was Jimmy Graham, who was actually a left-back! Confused? So was everyone else!
Ryan scored in his second appearance as Dale thrashed Carlisle 5-1 in the Rumbelows League Cup (which you can a minute into this footage:and made over 40 appearances in that campaign as Dale missed out on the play-offs on the final day.
He was again a regular up to February of 1992/93 and in the early months of 1993/94, when his performances on the left-wing (he was now wearing number 11) were a vital contribution to Dale sweeping away all before them to climb to the top of the table.
For whatever reason, ‘Rhino’ fell out of favour just before Christmas 1993 and he left Spotland to join Bury, with later career moves taking him to Stalybridge Celtic, Radcliffe Borough and HM Prison – but that’s another story!
John made 91 appearances for Dale, scoring five goals, but he isn’t really remembered for anything he did on the pitch. Instead, it was something Dave Sutton said that characterises Ryan’s time at Spotland.
‘Sutty’ was prone to soundbites and outrageous comments, one of which was “Every team needs a John Ryan!”
Now we knew what he really meant, but that didn’t stop Dale fanzine Exceedingly Good Pies (EGP) having a bit of fun with Sutton’s next team selection:
1. Jon Ryan
As mentioned, Ryan started his career at Oldham, making his debut for them on the opening day of the 1981/82 season.
After two impressive campaigns in their ranks, during which time he also represented England U21s, he made a big money move to Newcastle that saw him team-up with the likes of Keegan, Waddle and Beardsley.
The Magpies won promotion to the top flight in John’s first season at St James’ Park, when he played in just over half of their fixtures, and he started in the side in Division One, only to move to Sheffield Wednesday at the start of September 1984.
Interestingly, in his first top flight appearance for Newcastle (a 3-2 opening day win at Leicester), their side also included two more future Dale players in Malcolm Brown and Steve Carney, while some bloke called Lineker scored both goals for The Foxes.
You can just about make out Ryan a few times in this footage – wearing the number 3 shirt…
John only played 31 times for Newcastle, but went on to have a successful career in the lower leagues and on his departure from Bury, he had made 420 senior appearances, scoring 24 goals.
Photo: Action Images
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