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Youth Team

Lee Thorpe Appointed As New Professional Development Phase Lead Coach

19 December 2022

Rochdale Football Club are delighted to announce the appointment of Lee Thorpe as our new Under-18s Coach.

The former Dale forward initially re-joined the club in September taking up the role of Youth Development Phase Lead Coach, a role which he was previously doing at Blackpool.

The 46-year-old replaces Chris Brown as Dale's Professional Development Phase Lead Coach. Everyone at Rochdale Football Club would like to thank Browny for his efforts during his 17 years with the club, as a player and a coach.

A reminder that Thorpe appeared 44 times for Dale and scored seven goals between January 2008 and June 2009, during which time we reached the League Two playoffs in successive seasons.

On becoming the Under-18’s Manager, Thorpe commented: “I think it’s natural progression for myself, it’s probably been something that I’ve always thought would be nice to do.

“Obviously, my coaching history has mainly been in development phase, after Browny left it was sort of an opportunity that I got offered and couldn’t turn it down really.

“Browny did a great job, massive thanks to him for the hand over of the players and sort of handing me a squad of players that, you know are doing well in the PDP at the moment.”

Since taking the hot seat, the Youth Team have won four out of four games, Thorpe puts it down to the efforts of the players and the staff.

“It’s a massive credit to the players really. Obviously I’m new to the club, so the staff that have been here a long time have helped me a lot, a lot of the players have come through the system and have been at Rochdale a long time.

“It was quite easy really, taking the reins and steadying the ship. I’ve obviously added a few little things myself; I think fitness levels were important and getting the lads to buy into a new person.

“You know, they all loved Browny and so did I, so that initial disappointment with the lads, losing their coach, it was important that I just took my time, didn’t change too much and got us buying into hard work and into the Rochdale way really.”

Thorpe will work alongside Tony Ellis, Dale’s Academy Manager. The two previously played together and have a good relationship.

“We know each other from our playing careers, I played with Tony at Blackpool. He always was a person that I admired as a player. And with Rochdale being a club that I played for, it’s sort of like coming back to somewhere that you already know.

“Especially when there’s people still here from when I played, Tony’s one of them. It just makes that transition a lot easier.”

On the appointment on Thorpe, Ellis said: "Thorpey has been a fantastic acquisition since he’s arrived. He’s actually hit the ground running.

"He’s taken his experience of youth development. He’s invaluable really to us. He’s experienced of being a professional footballer.

"He’s worked for this football club before, and he was the right person for the job. It’s really good to have him on board, and we’ll just keep progressing him as a senior coach.

"It's been a privilege to have known him all these years."

When talking about the team and what Thorpe knows, Ellis commented: "He knows how we play, he knows what the teams are, he knows what we are in possession, what we are out of possession, he knows what we are in transition.

"And I think since he’s come in he’s actually seen that through most of the ages that he’s worked with, which is pleasing.

"And he’s not changing much, he’s always demanding what we always demand. We demand hard work, we demand non-negotiables, they must run, they must press, they must compete, they must make contact, they must regain, they must retain.

"He knows we’re a possession based football club and a possession based academy, who’s produced unreal young players over the 15 years I’ve been here."

Up next for Thorpe and his side is Fulham, in the third round of the FA Youth Cup. The game was supposed to take place on Tuesday 14th December but was postponed due to a frozen pitch. And then was postponed again for the same reason on Saturday 17th December. The game will now take place on Tuesday 20th December, with kick-off at 7pm at the Crown Oil Arena.

Thorpe said: “We’re confident, we’ve put a lot of work in. We’ve really gone down the route of wanting to pick up points in the league, the cup runs been a bonus, that was my first game in charge.

“For the lads, I think that was a springboard for them to start believing in themselves, realising that they could win big games of football and then we managed to get a few wins in the league as well.

“Now we’ve got a big tie against Fulham, who are going to come here a good side, but we’ve put a lot of work in, we feel confident, and we’ll definitely put a good show on for whoever watches.”

Tickets for Tuesday's third round Youth Cup tie at the Crown Oil Arena can be purchased HERE.

“I think it’ll be a good game of football. I think both teams will come and try to win the game.

“But importantly we’ll keep our identity of a team that likes to do things on the front foot, we try to play an attacking brand of football, we try to score goals, and like I said to the players it’s their show piece moment.

“Some of these players, it’ll be their only opportunity to shine in front of a crowd. It's great isn’t it for the lads? Brilliant for their development,” Thorpe added.

Well done Thorpey, and good luck for Tuesday!

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