This season marks 50 years since Rochdale secured their first ever promotion. As part of a special Friday Flashback feature, we’re continuing to delve into the archives throughout the year to take a look back at how this was achieved…
Rochdale were still unbeaten when they travelled to Chesterfield’s Saltergate on Saturday 14th September 1968.
Dale had one win and four draws to their name, having beaten Scunthorpe United 3-2 on the opening day of the season and recording four consecutive draws on the back of it.
It looked like the Spireites might end that run, until Steve Melledew scored at the death to ensure Bob Stokoe’s side claimed another point on the road thanks to a very familiar scoreline - 1-1.
So far, Melledew’s goals have helped earned the team five of their eight points, although on this occasion, it was his mistake that saw Dale go behind just after the hour mark.
Chesterfield were gifted a goal when Melledew, 40-yards from his goal, tried to play the ball back to Chris Harker, the Rochdale goalkeeper, but he had failed to spot a lurking opposition player who nicked in, rounded Harker and picked our Ivan Hollett, who headed home.
Melledew must have thought it wasn’t going to be his day when just minutes before his goal, he’d been denied from five-yards thanks to the foot of the opposition goalkeeper, but any doubts would have been long gone when he rose highest to meet Billy Rudd’s meticulous delivery and headed into the far corner of the net to secure a point for Rochdale.
At the time, the Rochdale Observer’s Geoff Whitworth wrote: ‘The miscreant had earned a pardon, which was just. Rochdale were saved, and that was equally just.
‘If there was any justice, it was that they needed this goal to gain a point, for again they were the better side without have the result as confirmation of their superiority.’
Dale XI | Harker, Radcliffe, Parry, Ashworth, Ryder, Leech, Rudd, Fletcher, Melledew, Jenkins (Whitehead 71’), Butler.
Rochdale 3-2 Scunthorpe United
Colchester United 0-0 Rochdale
Brentford 1-1 Rochdale
Port Vale 1-1 Rochdale
Rochdale 1-1 Peterborough
Chesterfield 1-1 Rochdale