Rochdale Football Club, or Rochdale AFC were founded in 1907 in Rochdale, Greater Manchester and have played in the English Football League since 1921, making them one of the eldest teams in the league. However, their 102-year stay in the league officially came to an end on April 23rd 2023, as promotion candidates Stockport County were able to seal a 2-0 win over The Dale, as well as seal their fate in the English Football League.
Rochdale's struggles for survival in the Football League began in the 2020/21 season, where they finished 21st in League One and narrowly avoided the drop into League Two. The following season proved to be even more difficult, and their failure to improve on performances saw them win just 8 of their 45 league games, losing 28, and putting them at the foot of the League One table, dropping into League Two.
Fans were not confident with their drop into the lowest stage of the Football League, as many tipped the Greater Manchester side to range from the middle of the table to relegation threatened, with the latter being the outcome of the 21/22 season. Rochdale finished 18th on 53 points, winning just 12 games and losing 17 over the season.
The fate of Rochdale AFC was officially sealed on the 22nd of April 2023, with their 1-0 loss to promotion candidates Stockport County. The result meant that Rochdale could no longer catch the likes of Hartlepool, Crawley or AFC Wimbledon and saw their 102-year stay in the English Football League come to an end. The relegation of Rochdale FC to the Vanarama National League is a significant blow to the club, the fans and the wider community of Rochdale.
It's important to recognise Rochdale FC have been an important part of the towns' identity for over a century, and the clubs' relegation will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the local community. The club have been had some fantastic young footballers begin their careers there, most notably former Liverpool and England striker Rickie Lambert and a three-time Scotland international goalkeeper in Matt Gilks. The community has also had some notable footballers grow up there, such as Wolverhampton Wanderers centre back Craig Dawson and current Wigan defender Joe Bennett.
The club now faces an uncertain future, and the challenge of regaining promotion to the Football League will be a tough one. However, despite their relegation, Rochdale FC has a history to be proud of and a passionate set of fans behind them, and will undoubtedly be doing everything in their power to make a swift return to the Football League within the following season.