Football League 1
For those of us who live in the Greater Manchester area, it takes little to get the blood flowing when you mention a football derby. Obviously the Manchester derby is 'the' derby for the area but when the surrounding Manchester towns play each other we all sit up and take notice. For a Dale fan our big rivalry is Bury, however I save a little space for wanting to anniliate Stockport County since their Wembley win over us in 2008. Then again, that win cost them financially and have since slipped into National league North with FC United of Manchester and Nuneaton Town, so they can keep that superficial memory.
For the longest time, between 1974 and 2010 both teams never met competitively with Oldham Athletic having a prolonged period of success in which time they reached the League Cup final and secured top flight status under the stewardship of Joe Royle.
After they were relegated from the inaugral Premier League season, Oldham Athletic began to decline, when at the end of the 1996-97 season they were relegated to the third tier of English Football and have yet to leave it since.
Meanwhile, Rochdale's fortunes were always opposite to Oldham, being a poor relation in the region and being perrenial strugglers at the bottom of the fourth tier of English football for 36 consecutive years.
After Rochdale finally left the Rochdale Division, they became eligible to play the Latics in the Oldham Division (19 years and counting).
Without realising that Oldham had shifted the away supporters to the opposite end of the stadium I found myself aimlessly walking the perimeter until I could see Dale shirts.
We were asked 'who are we?' when we went a goal down and told that we're also a bus stop in Heywood. After the following banter it was evident that not oly had we won in voice and song over the course of the match, but importantly, we were about the win the game too.
Annoyed Rochdale were a goal down, Ian Henderson received a caution for a rash and preventable yellow by showing his nasty side to their midfield, which at the time counted not for much.
Fast forward 20 minutes and Callum Camps is fouled from behind in the area and Hendo scores a penalty straight down the middle, 1-1 and game on!
Several minutes later though, heading towards half time and Jamie Allen and the defense, again mess up a routine passing the ball out movement. Henderson determined to win the ball back tackles Curtis Main from behind and completely polaxed him to receive a second yellow and a red. The first yellow appears frustrating now.
I thought the best we could hope for was to hold on for a draw now but how wrong I was! McDermott, Allen, Camps and Rose turned on the magic in the second half with McDermott acting as the false striker.
Pressing for opportunities at their goal, McDermott whipped in a fantastic cross which was met by Oldham's Anthony Gerrard and sent the ball into his own net. 2-1 to the 10 men!
5 minutes later and again, battling in the middle for the right to attack, Callum Camps drives forward with the ball and finding himself alone from 35 yards, smashes the ball which drove onto the crossbar and bounced several times until resting into the top of the net. Rochdale's goal of the season had won it at 3-1 and as the Dale fans sang, "10 men! We only need 10 men!".
Oldham did pressure for a second goal which they got from Aaron Ahmadi-Holloway's sliced volley from 20 yards.
It was at this point that Rochdale manager, Keith Hill had seen enough and brought on veteran striker Grant Holt to see the game out using his match management experience.
Final score ended 3-2 and Rochdale had won their derby cup final! I personally couldn't care it was against Oldham, I cared that we won 3 points but most significantly, we had won the game by coming from behind and with only 10 men from the second half. That was incredible!
Rochdale absolutely love playing in the 'Green and Black' striped 3rd kit currently which is bringing us performances and points and I hope that we continue to wear it for the rest of the away games.
After acknowledging the players and taking in what I had just witnessed, it was now time for my epic, long journey back to Rochdale! ...or so they told me.