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Club News

Our Ten Youngest Debutants

16 November 2022

Club News

Our Ten Youngest Debutants

16 November 2022

Following Oscar Kelly's professional debut at the age of 15 earlier this month, we've taken a look at the ten youngest players to make a full Dale debut.

10th - Aaron Morley - 16 years, 7 months, 7 days
The first of Morley's 121 Dale appearances came in October 2016, when he played the full 90 minutes in our 2-1 EFL Trophy win over Notts County. He would make his league debut four days later, playing 70 minutes in a 3-0 win at home to Southend United. The midfielder signed for Bolton Wanderers in January 2022.


9th - Stephen Bywater - 16 years, 6 months, 30 days
Bywater's only Dale appearance came in the EFL Trophy in January 1998. Carlisle United were 6-1 winners in the game, but the goalkeeper still did enough to impress West Ham United, who signed him a month later. He went on to make over 400 career appearances for the likes of the Hammers, Derby County, Sheffield Wednesday and more.


8th - Ted Oliver - 16 years, 5 months, 3 days
Ted Oliver became Dale's then youngest debutant when he made his debut for the club in August 1977 away at Barnsley. The right-back was drafted in due to suspensions for the opening day and would go on to make 23 appearances, scoring once. He was released in 1980 and had a short spell at Stockport County.


7th - Daniel Taberner - 16 years, 4 months, 25 days
Taberner made just one appearance for Dale, in a televised FA Cup first round replay at home to Luton Town. Injuries to first team goalkeepers Kenny Arthur and Matty Edwards meant the Youth Team stopper had to be drafted in for the tie, which Dale lost 2-0. He is currently playing for Runcorn Linnets in the Northern Premier League Division One West.


6th - Zacari Hughes - 16 years, 3 months, 13 days
Zac Hughes made his Dale debut in a 1-1 draw away to Exeter City in September 1987. He would go on to make a further five appearances for the club, making his last appearance aged just 18-and-a-half, as he was forced to retire during the 1991/92 campaign.


5th - Daniel Adshead - 16 years, 17 days
Adshead broke Hughes' record exactly 30 years after the latter had made his Dale debut, playing 90 minutes in Dale's 4-0 EFL Trophy win at Bury. He would bag an assist in the game and go on to make 25 Dale appearances, before signing for Norwich City in the summer of 2019. He is currently at Cheltenham Town.


4th - Luke Matheson - 15 years, 11 months, 1 day
The first 15-year-old to play for Rochdale Football Club, Matheson would make headlines for earning the Man of the Match award on his debut, when he appeared as a 13th minute substitute in an EFL Trophy tie against local rivals Bury. The full-back played a key part in Dale's 2-1 win and would go on to create more memorable moments in his 36 appearances for the club, before signing for Premier League Wolverhampton Wanderers, where he is still a member of their Under-23 side.

Matheson Debut_September 2018.jpg

3rd - Oscar Kelly - 15 years, 8 months, 29 days
Kelly's 86th minute substitute appearance in our Emirates FA Cup tie earlier this month put him at third in this list. He also became Dale's youngest ever league debutant, when he appeared against Mansfield Town on Saturday. The youngster has recently been away with Northern Ireland's Under-16 squad for their Victory Shield campaign and has been involved in their Under-17 group.


2nd - Kevin Dos Santos - 15 years, 5 months, 15 days
Midfielder Dos Santos appeared as a late substitute in Dale's 3-3 Papa John's Trophy draw with Accrington Stanley earlier this season. He is just under a month older than Kelly.


1st - Peter Thomas - 15 years, 22 days
The record of youngest debutant goes to Thomas, who had only just turned 15 when he appeared as an 85th minute substitute in Dale's EFL Trophy tie against Manchester City Under-21s. He would be an unused substitute in Dale's Carabao Cup Round Three tie at Manchester United later the same month, but wouldn't make another senior appearance for the club. He has recently joined the men's soccer programme at The College of Charleston in the USA.


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