Chief Executive David Bottomley on the importance of Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup Round Three tie against Manchester United at Old Trafford…
“Everyone associated with Rochdale Football Club has been looking forward to this tie since the draw was made nearly a month ago. We are all full of pride and excitement to see Brian Barry-Murphy and his backroom staff lead the team out at Old Trafford to take on local Premier League opposition. It is an occasion that we will enjoy and relish. The Board are extremely proud of the team that we have here and the management team, too.
“We've been as far as the second round of the League Cup on several occasions over the last few years, so to have gone one step further and progressed to the third round first time since 2011 and draw a team like Manchester United is fantastic for the club and supporters, especially since it has been 33 years since we last faced United at Old Trafford.
“The Board are pleased for the management and players, as it gives them an opportunity to go and express themselves and hopefully show the football world what a good League One team we are, because we’re playing great football. The philosophy that Brian and his backroom staff have instilled and the collective buy in from the team is amazing.
“To have reached the stage where we have got to around the 53,000 sold mark of paid for ticket sales is a great testament to the people of Dale fans, the people of Rochdale and the attraction that Rochdale have got to Manchester United supporters, because they have sold around 47,000 tickets so far. Given they are in the Europa League and we all know where we are in society at this moment in time in terms of money being tight, I think it’s a great achievement. I’d like to thank everyone who’ll be supporting us from inside Old Trafford on Wednesday evening, and, of course, those who have sent us well wishes from near and afar.
“It’s a very worthwhile tie for us in terms of revenue. I heard an interview on radio a few weeks ago where someone said that the money earned from this fixture will keep Rochdale going for two-three years. Being honest, it keeps us going for two-three months. Everybody knows how well run this football club is on prudent financial lines, but we are finding it hard at the level we’re playing at because costs continue to increase, so it’s a lot of money and revenue that is very important to us.”
Mr Bottomley was there, as a fan, when we last took on Manchester United at Old Trafford, 33 years ago. He recalls his memories of that FA Cup match.
“I remember a lot about the build up to it, because at that time in my life I was exiled in Norfolk. I came up on the Friday night and stayed with my parents in Rochdale and was crushingly disappointed that the game was called off. I went back home on the Sunday and then travelled back on the Tuesday only for it to be called off again. I came back up on the Thursday and finally the game went ahead. I was very fortunate in my working career at that time that I had a boss who was a former professional footballer - he had played for Huddersfield and he knew what Rochdale meant to me.
“I remember going on the coach with my father and a friend to the game and all the coaches going from the town centre. But my real abiding memory of the night was how powerful the floodlights were, I couldn’t get over that. I was 26 years old and had been watching Rochdale since I was 8 but had mainly watched night matches at Rochdale and division three and four football grounds. It was my first ever visit to Old Trafford at night – I had been during the day – and I just couldn’t get over the floodlights. That and the goalkeeping error that led to a goal still to this stick out in my mind.
“I was pleased with how the Rochdale team acquitted themselves well. It was a great time for Rochdale at that time, because the team were actually doing quite well prior to the United game and were in the frame for promotion until that point. After the match, the team went into a bit of a decline and only just escaped relegation.”