The starting point of the diary this week has to be Tuesday evening, albeit lots happened on Monday with an RAFC Board Meeting amongst other things.
Those who you who were at the game might have been wondering why the players warmed up in front of and ran out to the Pearl Street end of the ground. Well, the team were asked to do this as part of the EFL’s Family Excellence report (that we take very seriously) which encourages teams to warm up and run out to the Family Stand area, therefore allowing younger supporters to see the players go through the pre-match routine and for players to engage further with fans.
I can confirm that kick-off was delayed slightly due to a breaking of a small stanchion that holds the back of the net in place, with our grounds staff having to make a repair to the referee’s approval. It was broken by a ball hitting it during the warm up.
The night was then the mixture of elation/ despair/ excitement/ disappointment and a tough one to take after the team scored three goals at home but sadly conceded more. Again, it was fine margins when there’s a clear penalty on Bradden Inman in the second half that wasn’t given.
When you are in the fight which we are with regards to our current league position, it’s vital that we all pull in the same direction. What I can assure even the most doubting of supporters is that we do have that at Dale - a committed team both on and off the pitch with an excellent spirit and we do all care.
During Monday’s Board meeting, we had an excellent Academy update presentation from Tony Ellis. The results the Club continues to produce is an amazing testament to the philosophy of the way the Academy teams play (laid down by our first team manager) and the hard work and ability of all the coaching staff from both the Academy and the Dale in the Community Trust. Two stats that really standout are: since 2013, players that have come through our Club academy have contributed 619 First team appearances and counting, and we have in our current squad two England internationals, with Luke Matheson and Dan Adshead recently representing England at U17 and U18 levels, respectively. Yes, two England internationals. When in our history did that ever happen?
As supporters of Dale, we should take a step back from the current disappointments of two tough seasons in the third tier of English football and enjoy the successes, but also recognise the continual plan to develop our own.
I know supporters also tire of the seemingly broken record of ‘punching above our weight’, but as Wimbledon, who a very similar sized Club to Dale, remarked - when they played West Ham and beat them in the fourth round of the FA Cup, at half time West Ham brought on a player that cost his Club more than the £15 million - the type of money that Wimbledon are to spend on a new stadium. And again the visit to Burnley’s training facility this week shows the gulf in less than 50 places in the pyramid system of football! But the visit just further motivates us all to bring a training facility to the Dale for the Dale and in the Dale.
As we face Plymouth tomorrow and Luton next weekend, I am reminded of the commitment made by our travelling fans - I know at least 150 will be at both games, some of whom will be clocking up around 1,000 miles. So, from all at the Club, a big thank you and for giving your all to encourage the team at this end of the season!
As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the first promotion in our history (1968-69), arguably the key player of that team was Club legend Reg Jenkins. The good people of Argyle are tomorrow entertaining his widow Norma Jenkins and Andrew and Hayden Jenkins, his son and grandson. Reg, of course, played for both clubs and was a Plymouth man born and bred. When his Dale career ended he moved back to Milbrook near Plymouth. He was so loved by Milbrook FC that they now play at Jenkins Park. We are looking forward to meeting the family tomorrow. A big thank you to Plymouth for extending the invitation.
Wishing Dale fans everywhere a good weekend. UP THE DALE!