To all Dale supporters, wherever you may be, I trust that your Easter weekend was enjoyable, despite the lockdown.
As every day that passes during this awful pandemic, we never lose sight of the people shouldering the weight of the crisis. They are those who work in or around the NHS, whether they be front line or support staff, that makes no difference. I know that not only do we have Dale fans within that group, we also have many Dale fans whose families and close friends fall into that category. Literally not only our hearts, but our admiration and thanks, go out to all of them. Being involved in football at whatever level pales into insignificance compared to those who are literally risking their lives to save others.
Also, I think it is only right to pay thanks to a vast group of other people in Rochdale who are proving what a great town this is. The Council, led by Steve Rumbelow and his team, are providing daily information and support services to so many business (including the Dale) and to individuals. Our thanks to go out to you, and also the many companies in Rochdale who have converted their normal line of business to supply new products to the NHS. There are many that fit into this category in our town and again, well done to all for proving how resourceful we are in the north!
Earlier this week, we announced a wonderful new partnership with Future Ticketing. This move forward with how we sell tickets and gain access to the Crown Oil Arena on matchdays is a move, that like all other areas around the Club, is designed to be more professional. When the system is revealed it will prove to be more fan friendly in every way.
On that note, I would think many supporters are wondering about Season Tickets and why the Club have not yet announced anything for the 2020/21 season. The honesty of it is, we find ourselves in a situation where the Club can offer no guarantees of when the new season will start, when fans will be allowed back in the stadium, how many teams will be in our league, etc.! We are also very aware that all of our loyal Season Ticket holders have, like us, no idea when the remaining six home games of the current season will take place. As much as we would love to be selling Season Tickets in a few weeks’ time, please bear with us until we have more facts.
In the last few days, we have, in common with many Clubs in the EFL, taken the decision to furlough both our management and coaching staff, along with all of our playing staff, and also the Academy. We, as with when furloughing non-playing staff three weeks ago, mindful of the difficulties this situation causes, but this is done with the purpose of making sure that Rochdale AFC is around for at least another 113 years. At a time when the football world is talking about a significant number of Clubs going out of business, we are prudently trying to ensure we don’t join that list.
I would have loved to have closed this week with some positive news about the likely resumption of football, but the Government’s announcement of at least a further three-week lockdown has put paid to that.
So, in closing, I want to thank all of the staff at Rochdale AFC, both those working and those not, because you are still making a contribution.
And to all of our supporters, wherever you are in the world, please stay safe. Heed all of the Government advice and look after yourselves and your families.
Also please spare a thought for those who have passed away who are close to the Club, and especially this week Peter Madden, a good man and a remarkable Dale manager.
Lastly, please read the below messages from two of our supporters and their experiences with COVID-19. They are stark reminders that we must all stay home and stay safe.
My sincere condolences to the families of those connected to the club, who have passed away.
Well, I have it now! But a warning here for everyone, despite what we are repeatedly told. I had NO cough; I had NO temperature. What I did have was extreme tiredness on an unnatural scale and a complete loss of taste and smell for 2 weeks, along with an intermittent mild sore throat and a slightly runny nose.
Taking my daily 20-minute walk early last Monday afternoon, I was 'blowing' (to use terrace talk) after 200 yards. As I was near to Rochdale Infirmary at the time, I stopped by, thinking I was having mild palpitations - something I do have occasionally, so still no real cause for any concern. I did not consider that I had COVID19, due to the lack of the well-publicised symptoms. Then, as I approached the Out-Patients door, I was greeted by a fully gowned, masked figure, holding a clipboard with gloved hands. I was asked a few basic questions and then --- whoosh - - I was hurriedly introduced to space age medicine.
Within minutes, I had a canula in my hand, a drip was set up and I was pumped with 3 different sets of antibiotics and anti-pneumonia medicines and also robbed of two HUGE phials of blood. Throat/nasal swabs were taken and duly bagged and sealed.
In brief, I was about to be admitted, but as I wasn't in need of a respirator, I wasn't in the 'critical' category, but would be in a side-ward at the Infirmary. As luck would have it, after several hours and whilst waiting for a bed, the blood tests were returned 'negative'. Cue a huge sigh of relief....
'Right', said the invisible Doctor from inside his costume, 'You can go home, but you MUST obey the rules on this sheet (which he thrust into my hand) He continued 'The swab results will be phoned through to you at home in 24 hours'
24 hours passed, then 48 hours and I start to think I'm forgotten about. So, Thursday afternoon (almost 72 hours) - I decide to ring them.
Not happy. 'You don't ring us - WE ring you. You MUST wait for us to contact you'. Suitably chastised, I apologise and await further instructions.
Within half an hour, the phone rings and I am spoken to by a 'clinician' at the testing centre. after establishing I am who I say I am, she informs me that the nasal/throat swab tests reveal that I DO have COVID19 and that consequently I must undergo 14 days TOTAL isolation, starting from the day I attended hospital, so by the time I am made aware, I am already into day 3. These rules also apply to EVERY OTHER household member, regardless of occupation, age, or any other factor. Those in that address at that stage, are there for the duration.
Roll on April 20th and my own personal bid for freedom.
My message to those out there would be - obey the rules - do NOT assume that you won't catch the virus, no matter how vigilant you are or what precautions you take. Ensure that EVERYONE in your household does likewise and sticks rigidly to the same rules and heeds the advice we are given by those in the right places.
This virus will sweep you right off your feet at the slightest opportunity if you give it the chance. It is relentless. Never ignore the symptoms, however slight or insignificant they seem. The speed at which it takes you over is frightening.
Please, everyone - obey the rules - stay safe - so that we can all be at the next home game.
March 2020 started like so many other months of March. Symptoms of the twice yearly tracheitis I suffer from. Rickety chest, cough, phlegm. Uncomfortable but I'll fight it or get a course of antibiotics.
Other symptoms followed, tiredness, aches, loss of taste and I deteriorated steadily over the next week, eating very little, drinking next to nothing, just too weak to do anything
My daughters and cousin were urging me to ring 111 but the thought of doing it was simply too much effort.
They finally lost patience with me and unwittingly saved my life. I was genuinely just fading to nothing.
A paramedic arrived and it all moved quickly from there on...she did lots of obvs and made several phone calls, and eventually said "I think you’ll be going in".
Upon arriving at Royal Preston Hospital, the driver went to check us in, returning to tell us "No go. No movement in or out just now". It was arranged for a doctor or nurse to take my bloods in the ambulance whilst we waited. After an hour or so we got told to go in. I was put in a bed and immediately put on oxygen.
Over the next twelve hours the oxygen levels were increased dramatically, and the three nozzle options moved to the largest one.
My obs were taken regularly with particular emphasis on oxygen saturation levels. You should be 95 to 100 breathing independently, but I was mid 80s even with maximum assistance.
The time came to transfer me to ICU which turned out to be a 4-bed bay converted to an emergency ICU.
Almost as soon as I transferred from trolley to bed, Connor set about putting a line into my artery to enable my vital obvs to be seen on the machine next to me. With the help of ECG pads and a finger monitor all my numbers were now 'live' on screen. Heart rate, bp, oxygen sats, breathing.
Without any pause I was then introduced to Bpap. A plastic bag placed on your head, secured by straps under your arms, a seal tightened around your neck and then inflated with a constant flow of oxygen, designed to make you pant to get the oxygen where it needs to be. Periodic bouts of anxiety had me thrashing about, wet thru with sweat and desperate to come out. The two or three minutes to get two people to get it off felt like slow suffocation. The ICU allowed me to settle and wipe myself down before going back in.
After a couple of days I was told I might not need Bpap and put on facemask instead - believe me, I did not ever remove that mask apart from eating.
My oxygen levels were 92 with the mask on but taking it off to eat would see it drop quickly to mid 80s levels that set off an alarm.
After three days I was told I was transferring back to the ward
The nights were harrowing with people crying out and hurriedly administered meds and blood transfusions becoming normal.
My body was now accepting oxygen again and my 'assistance' was being rapidly downgraded.
After a week of hospital care I was discharged. Weak as a kitten, still coughing, but feeling very, very lucky. I'm on the mend now but I’ve never been so scared of anything in my life. I keep worrying it will come back for me.
Many people have asked if they can do anything for me. Same answer every time. "Yes, stay in, just watch telly."