Jimmy Moorhouse reviews Rochdale’s Season:
It has once again been another successful season for Rochdale, as they continued to overachieve under the stewardship of manager Keith Hill, who has well and truly established himself as a Rochdale great. Hill led Dale to a 10th place finish in League One, also achieving Dale’s highest ever point tally in the third division in the process, despite working with one of the lowest budgets in the football league. After a strong start which saw Dale hovering in and around the playoff positions, it seemed as if Hill would be unable to recreate the fantastic form of last season as his side tailed off a little in January and February, showing a lot of inconsistency, demonstrated best by a 6-1 defeat to Barnsley in January which was followed by a 2-1 success over Burton Albion, league leaders at the time, just a week later. However a strong upturn in form between March and the end of the season saw Dale fall just 5 points short of the playoffs, which is why the season must once again be considered a successful one, especially when considering the sorts of sides and budgets Dale have to compete against.
The Rochdale end of the season awards were very much dominated by goalkeeper Josh Lillis, and when considering his excellent form it seems well deserved. Lillis claimed 13 clean sheets this season, making some superb saves in the process, and was often Dale’s saving grace when playing behind a defence that looked bereft of any confidence on several occasions in the season. Therefore I would agree that Josh Lillis is right to claim the player of the season, but special mentions must also go to Callum Camps and Donal McDermott. 20 year-old Camps has established himself as one of the brightest young talents within the squad, contributing 5 goals from midfield, including stunning strikes against Burton and Oldham, the latter of which remains as one of my personal highlights of the season as Dale battled to a 3-2 away win over their local rivals despite being down to 10 men for over an hour. McDermott too has served up some memorable moments, including his goal of the season against Coventry, as well as winning over Dale fans heart’s with his mesmerising ball control and fantastic dribbling ability. McDermott had signed from non-league side Ramsbottom, which is testament to both the scouting and coaching ability of the staff at Rochdale, as he has played a vital part in a lot of Dale’s successes this season.
After falling short of the playoffs this season, the stadium now having been bought and a number of talents in the squad and emerging from the youth team, hopefully Keith Hill can lead Dale to even more success next season.
James Moorhouse, 18