Saturday, 7 August 2010

Rochdale Town FC (England)

Rochdale Town are officially based in Rochdale, although they play their games in the small town of Castleton, a settlement right on the very fringes of town, and almost on the border with Manchester. They formed in 1924 as St Gabriels, the football team of the St Gabriel & the Angels Church. They kept this close link with the church right up until the sixties, and player not only had to be Catholic, but they had to attend both church and Sunday school every week.

Funnily enough, once this rule was lifted the club finally began to win some local trophies. They moved to their current home, the 1500 capacity Butterworth Park in 1979, and finally changed their name to Castleton Gabriels in 1990 - the same seaon they were accepted into the North West Counties Football League Division Two. They quickly became mid-table specialists. However, by the 21st century things took a turn for the worse and they finished bottom of the league three seasons in a row, conceding over 120 in two of them, and losing 10-2 to FC United. Fortunately the structure of the league at that time, and the fact that it was undersubscribed with clubs saved them from relegation.

Just as things started looking like they were on the up, the league said that they might relegate them anyway as their ground was not up to scratch. After a couple of seasons sharing with Oldham Town they returned to their pleasantly improved home - now called Castleton Sports Centre - in 2005. In 2008 they decided that their old name wasn't exactly pulling in the punters, and decided to change it to Rochdale Town to try and help lure in supporters from the wider Rochdale area rather than just castleton alone, despite there already being a considerably more successful team called Rochdale already. Not only that, but the newly christened Town also changed their strip to match the more sebior Rochdale club's centenary colours - the black ands white stripes. Here's is a club who've made a good number of curious decisions over the years - but it's made them all the more interesting for it!

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