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Match Reports

Match Report From Dale's First Football League Game

27 August 2021

Match Reports

Match Report From Dale's First Football League Game

27 August 2021

The below is the original match report, published in the Rochdale Observer on Wednesday 31st August 1921, from Dale's first ever match in the Football League.

Rochdale 6-3 Accrington Stanley - Saturday 27 August 1921

Goals Prolific - Owens Performs “The Hat Trick” - Visitors Combination of No Avail

Local followers of Association football will remember the opening of the season at Spotland on Saturday.

A passing reference will never be sufficient, probably as time goes on Rochdale Soccerites will recall the occasion by asking “How many was it?”. A certain amount of sympathy is felt for the losers, for Accrington Stanley in this their first match in the Third Division of the English League (Northern Section), did not deserve to have six goals registered against them.

Certainly they scored three in return, which lessons to some extent the rosy blush of self-consciousness, yet after leading at half time by 2-1 and then to receive a “packet of five” before the finish requires little more than an off-hand explanation. The visitors proved themselves capable of teaching Rochdale something of low passing, and resulting from this adaptability they always were a source of danger on the wings.

Although the game started in drizzling rain about 7,000 spectators were present. Fifty-one char-a-bancs and a special train brought some of the Accrington supporters to Rochdale. Mr James White and Jimmy Wilde, who were rumoured to attend, were not present.

Both Accrington Stanley and Rochdale received a cordial cheer when they appeared on the field, the teams being composed as follows: -

Rochdale: Crabtree; Nuttall and Sheehan; Hill, Farrer and Yarwood; Hoade, Sandiford, Dennison, Owens and Carney.

Accrington Stanley: Tattersall; Newton and Baines; Crawshaw, Poppewell and Burkinshaw; Oxley, Makin, Green, Hosker and Hartles.

Referee: A. F. Kirby (Preston).

The local team won the toss and started playing with what little wind there was in their favour.

Green, the Accrington centre-forward, kicked off in a style most impressive. He passed to the left, but Hill and Sandiford got possession between them, and the ball was sent dangerously near the visitors’ goal and Baines was forced to touch it out for safety, an action which served a purpose, but looked rather weak.

From the throw-in, the ball was exchanged in midfield frequently, and Sheehan misjudged a kick in an endeavour to get it away. Soon after he managed a “sky-scraper” which was pounced on by Makin, who, taking the play into the home half, had a pot at goal. It would have proved a tickler for Crabtree had it gone several feet nearer goal.

All of the play up to this point had been between the Rochdale right wing and the opposing left, with the occasional scramble in midfield. Oxley, however, received a gentle tap from Green and began to look dangerous, but his too well calculated shot went away, and Crabtree followed with a behind kick.

Whilst pressing again Green got offside, but no serious setback resulted from this. Hartles took a sharp sprint down the left wing, and although having to right himself after being charged over the line, sent the ball into centre. This was not followed up properly, and a little later Hartles tried the same trick again. He made a bit of an error in the kick, however.

Owens opened a daring raid into Accrington’s half and tackled the goalie into a well-saved shot. Tattersall was able to save the assassination by fisting to the left.


Here it was that one of the brightest incidents of the game was seen. Hoade ran up towards the visitors’ goal on his own, and, judiciously dribbling, gave a sufficiently hard enough kick to allow the forwards to come up, he then sent in a delightful centre which dropped almost in the Accrington goalmouth. Owens was there, and he finished it off by bundling it into the net.

With the score opened in favour of Rochdale, things seemed to liven up more than formerly, and Crabtree was called upon to save a low down shot from Green.

About this period, the low passing shots by Accrington were nice to watch, there was a good deal of tackling also, and Crawshaw tried his luck with a distance shot which went wide. Dennison retaliated with a similar effort which resulted in the ball going over the top of the crossbar, and Hoade followed up previous good efforts by out-stripping an opposing forward, and after a zig-zag course was met by the Accrington left-back, who forced a corner.

The resultant kick bounced on the crossbar, and after a brief scramble was put out of play. Green then secured the ball and covered almost the distance of the field in short time, ending up with a wide shot, delivered whilst on the run. Hill made a very fair shot soon afterwards, but his progress was checked.


A little display of the utility of headwork was then given by Accrington, the ball bouncing, more by luck than judgement, on the heads of three players successively, but beyond bewildering the homesters no greater damage was done, though Green tried another long shot which went over the bar. Owens made things a bit lively by way of balancing the chances by shooting wide.

The equalising goal came in rather a brilliant manner, although the shot which found the net would probably have been cleared by Crabtree had he remained in goal. As it was he ran out to intercept a pass from Green to Hosker, received previously from Oxley, and found that Hosker was rather more nippy than expected, for from the scramble for possession Hosker managed to send the ball well and truly into the home goal mouth.

Opinion was divided as to the responsibility for this goal, but the general feeling seemed to be that Yarwood should have made himself more troublesome.

With honours divided exchanges became lively, and runs to and from each half became the order. Of the two goalies, Crabtree had the most of the work, and he made best use of goal kicks, though Crawshaw was not slow in receiving, and replied with hefty shots whenever the opportunity was favourable.

Crabtree, whilst receiving one of these long shots, was tackled by a Stanley forward, and Yarwood going to his assistance was fouled. The free kick was soon returned, and Hill seemed to take particular care to watch Green, who always looked like breaking through.

Sheehan did his best to mix the playing during a visit to the home goal, but Hosker slipped between his opponents, and with a low shot found the goal properly.

This lead seemed to startle Rochdale, and before they had recovered from the shock Makin went through and scored an offside goal. Many people who could not possibly have told with any degree of accuracy whether the ruling was correct or not seemed to be indignant.

Oxley tested Crabtree and again before the interval arrived, and the home custodian was able to convert the effort into a corner. From the resultant corner kick the ball was sent on the wrong side of the posts.

Hoade made one mistake before the whistle blew by fumbling, and then double-kicking without much avail, the half-time arriving with the visitors having the benefit of the odd goal in three.

Half-time: Rochdale 1-2 Accrington Stanley


On the resumption things started brightly, but lapsed into a ding-dong hard-kicking battle for position. Dennison finished a fine effort by sending across, but nobody was near enough to take advantage of the pass, which Tattersall caught up and transferred a good way past the point from which it was sent.

A spell of blind kicking, with an occasional shot for goal, lasted longer that was cheerful for the spectators. Crabtree gave a thrill now and again by leaving his goalposts to look after themselves, and journeying down the field to make sure the ball was well out of the danger zone.

Carney made an effort by himself, although tackled by two men, and soon afterwards paid dearly for an attempt to repeat this performance, for a free kick was registered against him.

Whatever advantage the free-kick gave, a similar chance was given to the homesters, following a foul upon Hoade who was properly pushed off by the opposing outside left. Nuttall took the free-kick and sent a good way down the field, but progress was checked by an Accrington half-back kicking it over the line.

An example of how pleasant it is to the kick the ball high over the heads of spectators was given by each side alternately, and ended at last in a corner kick for Rochdale. This shot, like many other similar corner kicks, went over the wrong side of the line.

Sandiford and Dennison got the ball mixed between them whilst together with a reasonably clear opening, and after the ball was got nicely on the run Makin put in a hard, straight shot at Crabtree. This was saved thanks to admirable judgement by the home goalie.

Carney received a pass from Dennison, but before a chance was offered to get away, he was fouled by Newton. The free-kick was rather too high, but landed in a position near the Accrington goal, where, with a liberal amount of weight a happy ending could have resulted. Some fault was found with the referee ruling Green offside when that player was well on the way to scoring. A regular discordant howl went up from the Accrington supporters over this.

When Owens and Carney had the ball between them the former player shouted, “Go on”, a remark which was rather useless as Carney had little chance against the Accrington forwards, who were waiting and watching their opportunity.


A kind of settled gloom came over the game just about this point. Both sides seemed to give an impression that they were getting a bit fagged out. Most people thought that possibly the scores registered up-to-date would be maintained until close.

Perhaps it was the re-appearance of the drizzling rain that stirred the home team, whatever it was they banded together, and Hoade and Dennison between them passed and repassed, and the latter, as the conclusion of a perfect run, tapped the ball past Tattersall in a very simple manner.

Each side with two goals apiece made redoubled efforts to obtain the lead. Before the excitement had subsided Owens, receiving a pass from Dennison, waited a few seconds and put in a nice low shot which found the net.

A certain amount of surprise was occasioned by the decision to grant a penalty kick to Carney, who, it was supposed, was fouled near the goal. From the penalty taken by Carney, Tattersall was given little chance to save.

With the lead made so quickly Rochdale kept up the pace, and before long Dennison, after a short, sharp sprint, registered the fifth goal for the home side.

Owens, probably jealous of the easy manner in which things were shaping, surprised and delighted the home fans by slipping another shot past Tattersall.

Just before the conclusion Green, who deserved to be rewarded for hard work and brilliant play, took the Rochdale defenders by surprise and scored.

Nothing worthy of note occurred after this, the visitors obviously realising that to double their score in so short a time was beyond their powers. The game ended with the scores: -

Full-time: Rochdale 6-3 Accrington Stanley

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