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Flashback Friday | August 17th 1968

17 August 2018

This season marks 50 years since Rochdale secured their first ever promotion. As part of a special Friday Flashback feature, we’re going to delve into the archives throughout the year to take a look back at how this was achieved…

After starting the season with a 3-2 win over Scunthorpe United at Spotland, Rochdale had a midweek game, away at Workington in the League Cup, which they lost 2-1 after conceding a last minute free-kick.

Manager Bob Stokoe must have liked what he witnessed from their second half performance, though, as he opted for the same eleven that ended the match at Workington to start Dale’s second league game of the campaign.

That meant one change to the side that lined-up against the Iron on the opening day, as Steve Melledew, scorer of Rochdale’s goal in the 2-1 defeat at Workington, replaced Joe Fletcher, who dropped to the bench.

Stokoe’s men were facing Colchester United away from home, who, like Scunthorpe United, had come down from the third division, and Dale secured a point from a goalless draw.

That’s not to say Rochdale didn’t have chances to win the game. In fact, they had the better of the opportunities. Not only did they hit the woodwork on one occasion, they also had a goal contentiously ruled out.

Reg Jenkins had the ball in the back of the net from a free-kick with just minutes of the first half remaining, but before he could celebrate, he was ordered to retake it, with claims that the Colchester players hadn’t been 10-yards from the ball. This time, he was crowded out, and the score line remained the same.

In the second half, a dominant Rochdale were denied by the woodwork, when Dennis Butler’s volley deflected off Melledew and beat the ‘keeper, only to be agonisingly kept out by the post.

In his post-match assessment of the game, Geoff Whitworth, Rochdale Observer reporter, wrote: ‘Bob Stokoe wore a broad smile to express his satisfaction at his team keeping a clean sheet and claiming a point from the goalless draw.

‘It says much for the Rochdale outlook that this particular event [Jenkins’ ruled out goal] hardened their approach rather than diluted the fighting spirit.

‘It says much, too, for Jenkins that though denied a crown of glory on his sweat-streaked brow at the end of a half in which he must have covered the Olympic marathon distance, he did not slump with despair but came out to chase as far and as hard after the break.

‘Only once did a Colchester player get within range of goal [in the second half]. Even then, reaction was so sharp that when Oliver aimed for the target – and he did not dally – the wall was back in place. Rochdale, in contrast, their course often plotted by the industrious Rudd, had four or five openings.’

The line-up | Harker, Radcliffe, Parry, Ashworh, Ryder, Leech, Rudd, Whitehead, Meledew, Jenkins, Butler.

Read our flashback feature from the opening game of the season HERE.


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