Our matchday announcer, Dave Sweetmore, marked his 20th anniversary at the club this weekend!
We caught up with him to reflect on his time at Rochdale AFC...
This weekend marks your 20th anniversary as matchday announcer here at the Crown Oil Arena. How does it feel to have worked here for two decades?
It’s mad, because I don’t feel old enough to have worked here for that length of time!
I’ve worked here for nearly half my life, so I’ve been here through the best times of my life and the worst times of my life. I’ve also met some of my best friends here.
Rochdale Football Club has been a massive part of my life and not just for the football, but for the friendships I’ve made and the feeling of being part of a great team.
How did you get into the role?
I had been a nightclub DJ for a few years and I had got involved with hospital radio. Martin Culshaw, who is also still at the club now, was doing the commentary for the hospital radio station and it was from one off the cuff comment that I ended up starting at the club.
He mentioned that the club needed a matchday announcer and I said I’d give it a go, so I came along and shadowed Richard Wild, who was doing it at the time because they didn’t have anyone else. He showed me the ropes and I came to the game after that and did it myself, and 20 years later I’m still here!
What was your first game?
My first game was on October 23rd 2001. We played Cheltenham Town and the game was 2-2.
Have you always played the same music here at the Crown Oil Arena? Did it very quickly become our USP?
When I started Dj’ing in1996, for a couple of years I played chart stuff and club stuff, but after a couple of years I'd quickly managed to work my way onto the band scene and by the late 90s I pretty much just played indie.
So, when I started at the football club, it was something that carried over into the role. No-one was really playing that kind of music at other football grounds and the club quickly got a good reputation from it.
That was obviously good for me and good for the club, and it’s something that has stuck since then. So, during my 25 year career as a DJ, certainly over 20 years of it has been as playing indie and rock and roll.
The club still receive recognition now for the music we play here, both on a local and national level. That must feel great?
After all this time, the fact that we still get recognition is brilliant. You’d think after 20 years, it’s something people would be used to it, but we still get a lot coverage about the music play, which is amazing. It’s great to see the club recognised in the press in a such a positive light.
You play music from unsigned bands at the Crown Oil Arena on a matchday. Is that important to you/the club?
As well as all the classic anthems, we’ve become known for playing great, new and unsigned local bands. Everyone has to start out somewhere and if we can give them some recognition or help get their name out there, then that’s absolutely brilliant. It’s great that we can showcase the talent we have locally, using the platforms we’ve got.
How much prep goes into getting ready for a matchday?
I’ve done it for such a long time that it has become second nature to me and I probably do most things without thinking now. I check in regularly with Commercial Director Frances Fielding and Leighanne Ball and Greg Jones from the media team in the run up to a matchday, as they keep me informed of any announcements I may need to mention pre-game.
Since we appointed a scoreboard operator, we liaise both pre-match and during the game, to make sure that our timings are spot on. You may have noticed that when I make an announcement, that it also appears on the big screen at the same time.
And, of course, there’s the music. I tend to do the playlist for each respective fixture on a Wednesday before the game. It’s great that the club has its own Spotify fan account now and that fans can access our playlists.
Were you a football/Rochdale fan before taking up the role?
No. I always took an interest in what the local teams were doing and if football was on when I was out I would watch it. I had always looked out to see how Rochdale were doing, but I’d be lying if I said I was fan. It was always more about gigs and music for me.
But there is something about Rochdale Football Club - as loads have people have said over the years, you do get addicted to the club. There’s something about this club that when you start working here, you become a fan and it becomes a big part of your life.
You also host events at the club, including stadium tours. Do you enjoy that aspect of your role?
Very much so. It’s great to be able to do that. I’m very privileged to be part of the side of the club that no-one really sees. There’s a small team of people working behind the scenes at the club so I’m in a privileged position to be part of that. I love doing what I do.
Stand out moment/game from your time at the club?
I don’t have one stand out moment as such, but several favourite moments. It has been amazing to have been at the club to witness two out of our three promotions, for example. It’s those games and significant moments in the club’s history that mean a lot to me. The getting to Wembley, going to Old Trafford to play Manchester United in the Carabao Cup and scoring late on against Newcastle United to get a replay at St James’ Park - it’s those moments that stand out to me, rather than any particular matches.
Your favourite Dale player from the last 20 years?
Gary Jones. That’s because of how he was on and off the pitch - his leadership and his longevity at the club. I admired what he stood for and his determination and positivity about everything. He’s also a great fan of Cast, and they are one of my favourite bands, too!
I get asked this all the time but I love music too much to pick just one particular song.
Favourite era for music?
Because of what it stood for, it, for me, has to be the 60s. That doesn’t mean I just listen to 60s music, but, undoubtedly, it’s the 60s because that’s where it all started. In my opinion, pretty much everything we listen to, or that influences us now is related back to then. That's the decade that followed the amazing rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm ‘n’ blues scene, did its own thing, experimented, and shaped popular music to how it is today. That’s why that’s the sixties is the decade I admire the most.
Congratulations on your 20 years, Dave!