In a week where Rochdale Football Club realised a ten year vision and secured ownership of Spotland Stadium, another milestone will be reached on Saturday as Manager Keith Hill takes to the dug-out for the 400th time as Dale manager.
Hill was first appointed as manager in January 2007 after a spell in care-taker charge. He led the club to the play-offs on two occasions before securing promotion to League 1. He then steered the club to its highest ever league finish before departing for Barnsley in 2011. Hill returned to Spotland in 2013 and has achieved a second promotion with the the club, as well as bettering Dale's previous highest league finish.
He admits he is very proud to be manager of Rochdale Football Club.
“I’m very proud and privileged to be managing this football club,” Hill told Dale PlayerHD.
“What I’ve achieved during my time at this football club has been tremendous. It hasn’t been a fluke – it has been planned.
“We’ve recruited some unbelievable players, retained some unbelievable players and sold some unbelievable players.
“But while we’ve done all that within our planning, we’ve had big success – two promotions, two play-off opportunities and achieved our highest ever league finish in League 1 twice.
“I’m really pleased to be and have been part of the management set-up of the football club while we’ve established and re-secured the ownership of the stadium. That was really important to me for us to establish a continued identity going into the next 20 or 30 years, knowing that we own the stadium and we can really anchor roots down in the community.
“It shouldn’t be underestimated that we’ve bought back the rights to the stadium and that we own it in its entirety now.
“It’s a real privilege that’s happened while I’ve been manager of the football club.”
Hill was appointed care-taker manager of Dale in December 2006 following the departure of Steve Parkin.
After a defeat, a draw and two resounding victories, Hill, who had been Youth Team boss at the club, was given the managerial reigns at the age of just 37 in January 2007.
“You don’t know until you actually test the waters,” said Hill as he reminisced.
“There are a lot of great punditry/ columnist managers who have been ex-football players and think they can do the job, and I was probably one of those.
“I was sat in the Youth Team manager’s chair thinking ‘I can do what Steve Parkin does and I can do what Kenny Dalglish (his Manager at Blackburn Rovers) did’.
“You only know when you actually take up the reigns and start managing. If you get the right response from the players in training and then on matchday, then it seemed to be the perfect fit for me.”
“I was a young man then,” laugh Keith.
“I feel as though I’ve grown 20 years older since then because of the pressures of the game and the pressures of management that are there for everyone to see these days.
“But we’ve had continued success. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being the manager of people and the manager of a collective aim and an ambition, and that’s why it’ so sweet when you are successful because you can share it with everybody. It’s a family club and we’ve got a family unit within the changing rooms.
“What we’ve got at this football club shouldn’t be underestimated or under-valued.
“The game is so awash with money that it has lost its honesty and integrity, but we still hold those key values in the structure of our football club and within the structure of our changing rooms.
“That’s a great identity for the fans to associate with.”
The Gaffer's full 8 minute interview on his managerial milestone is on Dale PlayerHD.