Keith Hill reached a milestone at the weekend – 10 years in management.
It has been 10 years since Keith Hill took his first steps into management, after being appointed as caretaker manager (December 17th 2006) following the departure of Steve Parkin.
After a successful spell in interim charge, Hill was named as Dale boss on a permanent basis a few weeks later, on January 3rd 2007.
The club’s most successful manager, Hill, during his 400 plus games in charge, has twice taken Dale to the play-offs and has secured promotion on two occasions.
After a spell away at Barnsley, Hill’s return to the Crown Oil Arena in 2013 has seen the club once again enjoy tremendous success.
Not only did Dale win promotion from League Two in 2014, they also reached the fourth round of the FA Cup for just the fourth time in their history, beating Championship outfit Leeds United in the process.
This was followed in 2014/15 by a repeat run to round four of the FA Cup and another excellent campaign in League One; Dale just missed out on the play-offs, finishing in eighth-place, which is a club record.
Last season, yet another club record was broken, with the side achieving their highest ever League One points total.
The 47-year-old started his playing career with Blackburn Rovers in the late-1980s, making over 100 first team appearances, before linking-up with Plymouth in September 1992.
Graham Barrow brought him to the Crown Oil Arena four years later and in five seasons as a Dale player he became a firm favourite on the terraces with his no-nonsense style of defending in just short of 200 first-team outings.
After being released by Steve Parkin in the summer of 2001, Keith moved south for a brief spell at Cheltenham, before ending his playing career with spells at Wrexham and Morecambe.
He returned to the Crown Oil Arena to work with the club’s youth players, but was thrust into the caretaker-manager’s role in December 2006 when Parkin lost his job. Keith’s work in guiding Dale from the relegation places to the top half of League Two was rewarded with a three-year contract towards the end of that season and he showed the club how wise a decision this was by managing Dale to the League Two play-off final at Wembley in 2008.
Twelve months later Keith again took Dale to the play-offs where they lost 2-1 on aggregate to Gillingham at the semi-final stage.
However, these achievements were surpassed in 2009/10 when Hill led Dale to their first promotion in 41 years, finishing in third place in League Two behind Notts County and Bournemouth.
Dale went on to enjoy a memorable first season in League One under Keith’s management, equalling their best-ever league placing since regional football was abolished and remarkably recording a league double over promoted Southampton, as well as home wins against Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton Athletic.
These achievements were recognised by Championship club Barnsley, who lured Keith and his assistant David Flitcroft to Oakwell shortly after the end of the 2010/11 campaign.
Keith was appointed as Rochdale manager for the second time on 22nd January 2013.
“I’ve really enjoyed it,” said Hill.
“First and foremost, being given the opportunity to manage was a dream come true after having a career as a player, but to manage Rochdale Football Club and be a manager for 10 years is just wow.
“I’m a proud person. I believe in the players that I work for and I believe in the club that I work for.
“I’ve got to thank Chairman Chris Dunphy and the Board of Directors who took a chance with me. I actually said to one of the Directors at the time that they weren’t taking a chance by appointing me and I think that they’ve been proven right.”