Millwall pulled off a shock victory at the Bescot Stadium last Saturday, as a double from Lee Gregory sandwiched a debut strike from youth team prospect, Mahlon Romeo, in a 3-0 win over Walsall. This weekend, the Lions make the trip to Rochdale. John Hill, PR Manager for Coral and ‘Dale fan, provides ‘The View From The Opposition’…
Name: John Hill
First Rochdale game: There are many things you can choose in life: your friends, your partner and where you work, however, once my Dad took me to Spotland for the very first time for a league game against Leyton Orient on a school night in 1996, that was it – I had the bug.
Joking aside, although we are often at the butt end of a number of jokes in the Football League, it really is a pleasure to follow Rochdale up and down the country. With the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United on our doorsteps, lots of kids end up supporting one of the ‘big boys’. I would not want it any other way. The connection I feel with my football club is something I simply would not get with either of the two clubs down the road.
Greatest moment following Rochdale: Unless you are over a certain age, I don’t think any Rochdale fan would differ on this answer. In April 2010, we were promoted out of League Two (also known as ‘the Rochdale Division’) with a 1-0 victory over Northampton at Spotland – our first promotion since 1969. It took a long time to sink in. Even when the fixtures were announced for the following season, many Rochdale fans, including myself, went straight to the League Two list expecting our name to be there. It wasn’t and that is when we realised it wasn’t a dream!
With the last few months of the season in sight, Dale sit in the middle of the table – is that where you expected them to be? Would you settle for that in May?: At the start of the season, like fans of all clubs in the country, you begin with optimism. We actually started the campaign really well, so it is only natural to start thinking ahead and dreaming of another promotion. However, we do have to keep our feet on the ground.
With one of the smallest budgets in the whole of the Football League, remaining in League One is a massive success for a club like Rochdale. Our job over the next few years is to establish ourselves as a League One club; very similar to what Walsall have done in this league and they are now reaping the benefit. Although the end of the season might not be as exciting as we would want it to be, we have to be very happy to not be involved in a relegation scrap.
On the contrary, the Lions are clinging on to sixth spot, having moved into the play-off places a fortnight ago. Do you see them staying there?: There’s not much to separate fifth place (currently occupied by Coventry) all the way down to 12th in the table, so there are going to be a number of clubs fighting for one of those play-off spots. Millwall’s form over the last couple of months has been as good as anybody’s in this league, so you have given yourselves a fantastic chance. I think you will end up in a play-off spot and then it comes down to a lottery as to who gets promoted into the Championship.
Who are Rochdale’s ‘ones to watch’ on Saturday?: We’ve relied very heavily on striker Ian Henderson for goals this season. ‘Hendo’ has scored 11 goals in all competitions this so far. He is likely to be our biggest goal threat. We’ve got a number of young players who have been given the opportunity to shine this season by manager Keith Hill, including Callum Camps, who is capable of finding the back of a net with a screamer.
Likewise, are there any Millwall players that you will be wary of?: Lee Gregory has been in terrific form this season, so I am sure Keith Hill will be working hard to try and put a plan together to try to neutralise his threat. From what I saw from this fixture back in October at The Den, Shaun Williams stood out on that occasion, too.
It’s a first ever visit to Rochdale for the large majority of Millwall fans – how do they get the most out of their day?: The away fans are very lucky at Rochdale, because across from the turnstiles at the ground is a superb chippy. I’d highly recommend pie, chips and gravy! It’s one of the finest chippies in the country.
The view from the away stand is one of the best in ground and there are no awkward posts in your way. All the pubs in and around the ground are very friendly, so you’ll get a warm northern welcome!
Finally, how do you see the game going?: Rochdale’s home form this season has been very good, so I am going to take ‘Dale to win this one…
Score Prediction: Rochdale 2-1 Millwall.
John’s Team Prediction: Lillis; Rafferty, Lancashire, McNulty, Kennedy; Vincenti, Allen (C), Syers, Camps, Lund; Henderson.
Rochdale welcome Millwall to Spotland this Saturday, February 13th. Kick-off is at 3pm.