Rochdale Hornets

Rochdale Hornets

Infobox_esl_club | clubname = Rochdale Hornets

fullname = Rochdale Hornets Rugby League Football Club
emblem = Hornet
colours = Red, white and blue
founded = 1866
sport = Rugby League
league = National League Two
ground = Spotland
web = []

Rochdale Hornets is an English rugby league club from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, England. They currently play in National League Two. Rochdale is also one of the original twenty-two rugby clubs that formed the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895, making them one of the world's first rugby league teams.


Early years - the 19th century

A Rochdale Athletic Club was formed in l866 and held its first festival on the cricket ground at Merefield. Rugby football first took place as an organised game about 1866 or 1867, when the Rochdale Football Club was formed by a magistrate and numerous business owners and self-employed men. Within a year they were all playing alongside new members when working class men were allowed to join as well. Other clubs quickly followed, among them Rochdale Wasps and Rochdale Juniors.

In 1871, Rochdale Juniors and Rakebank merged to form Rochdale United. On the 20th of April 1871, the directors of Rochdale Wasps, Rochdale United and Rochdale Football Club met at the Roebuck Hotel in the town centre to form a senior team that would represent the town. Rochdale Wasps. Rochdale Butterflies and Rochdale Grasshoppers were suggested as names for the new club before Rochdale Hornets was agreed on. The original team colours were amber and black.

In 1875, Hornets played at Mr R Kershaw's Athletic Grounds in Vavasour Street, and later at the Rochdale Cricket Ground. The club very quickly took a leading position in the game in Lancashire. Hornets had an open door approach to membership and were able to insist on gate money as they played on an enclosed field.

In June 1879, Rochdale Rovers threw in their lot with the Hornets, and it was in this year thatthe club first adopted the white jersey. A ground was taken at Oakenrod for the 1879–1880 season but owing to poor gates, Rochdale Hornets returned to the Rochdale Cricket Club ground.

In 1881 no fewer than 57 rugby clubs played in Rochdale and district, fielding 80 teams regularly. By the eighteen nineties, the players were almost all working class.

Rochdale moved to the Athletic Grounds in Milnrow Road, which opened on 9 June 1894. Their first game at their new home took place in September 1894 against Crompton.

They were founder members of the Northern Union in 1895. Hornets made a poor start under the new regime and finshed bottom of the league table, for a good number of years they lost many more matches than they won.

Early 20th century

They became tennants of the Athletics Grounds in 1900. Between the 7th and 9th of March 1901, a three-day bazaar was held at the town hall where around £1,000 was raised to help pay for Rochdale's debts. Incidents from the game played on the 22nd of March 1901 resulted in the ground being suspended by the Northern Union.

The players went on strike on the 29th of March 1902 as empty coffers meant that they went unpaid.

Rochdale Hornets then refused to travel to Dewsbury on the 1st of October 1904 on account of a smallpox outbreak, and were subsequently fined £20.

Rochdale purchased the Athletics Grounds in 1913. Hornets won the Lancashire County Cup in 1911 and 1914. Between the 10th of October 1914 and the 6th of March 1915, Hornets played 25 games without defeat, shortly after this streak was broken by a defeat to Wigan but they would finish fourth in the table. Hornets beat Broughton Moor 75-13 in a cup-tie on the 13th of March 1915; it was their biggest margin of victory since 1871. Twenty-five Rochdale players enlisted for the First World War, one of whom, Sergeant Twigg, was killed.

Rugby League came back to Rochdale following the Great War on Christmas Day 1918 when Rochdale played a friendly game. In the half-season of the spring of 1919, Rochdale Hornets not only won the Lancashire League but also carried off the Lancashire County Cup.

Rochdale's biggest win against a senior club came on the 27th of March 1920 when Wakefield Trinity were beaten 64 - nil.

The annual Law Cup, then known as the Infirmaries' Cup, was first contested against neighbours Oldham on the 7th of May 1921. Hornets played six games in a fortnight before falling to their biggest ever defeat 79-2 at the hands of Hull. Hornets changed their colours from green and black to red, white and blue as the green and black strip was deteriorating in the wash.

The club's record attendance was set at 26,664 in 1922 when Oldham were the visitors for a third round Challenge Cup match. Hornets won the Northern Union Challenge Cup in 1922 by beating Hull 10-9 at Headingley, Leeds. That was Hornets’ one and only Challenge Cup final. Due to the ferocity of their play, their pack of forwards was known as "The Terrible Six".

Hornets were formed into a limited company on the 31st of May 1929.

On the 4th of October 1930, Stanley Baldwin, Hornets’ winger was fatally injured during a match with Oldham.

Owing to a financial crisis in 1931, the Athletic Ground was offered for sale and all the players put on the transfer list. A fire destroyed stadium's main stand, dressing rooms and offices on the 18th of September 1935. A new stand built over the ashes of the old was opened on Saturday the 7th of March 1936 for the match against Liverpool Stanley. Another financial crisis in 1938 led to further talks about selling the ground and a further crisis in 1939 resulted in the creation of a members' club.

Hornets dropped out of the wartime Lancashire League, their last match a 12-4 defeat against Salford at the Athletic Grounds on the 11th of May 1940.

Post War

An appeal went out to supporters in July 1945 for help in renovating the ground, pitch and premises so that rugby league could restart at the Athletic Grounds after the war. On the 25th of August 1945, the Hornets resumed with an away game at Craven Park which they lost 5-14. The first Infirmaries’ Cup game since 1938 was played at the Athletic Grounds on the 24th of August 1946, in which Hornets were beaten by Oldham.

On the 29th of March 1947, Hornets ended a run of 14 consecutive defeats with a 3-0 home win over Halifax RLFC. Hornets played in green and black for the first time in 26 years on the 13th of December 1947 in a match against Wigan. Thereafter they used the colours as a change strip in the event of a colour clash.

In 1947 and 1958, Rochdale Hornets made it to the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup, but both times Wigan ended their hopes of a Wembley final.

On the 24th of October 1953, Hornets’ second row Ralph Slater was fatally injured in an A-team game at the Athletic Grounds against Oldham A.

Rochdale's highest attendance in a league match was set on Saturday the 16th of October 1954 when Hornets lost 4-18 to local rivals Oldham in front of 19,654 spectators. Hornets played their first game at Spotland in 1954 when a one-off game against Keighley was played there.

Rochdale Hornets brought in a Fijian contingent in the early 1960s, notably Appi Toga.

In 1965, Hornets appeared in the final of the Lancashire Cup when a 19,000 crowd saw them lose to Warrington at Knowsley Road, St Helens.

Under the guidance of Frank Myler and Kel Coslett Rochdale enjoyed a successful spell in the 1970s. They reached a Players No 6 Final in 1974.

1980s and early 1990s

In the 1980s, things took a turn for the worse with the crowds virtually disappearing.

In 1987 both Rochdale Hornets and Rochdale A.F.C. were in financial trouble. Deep in debt, Rochdale accepted Morrison's £2.7m offer for the Athletic Grounds and following the sale of the land moved to Rochdale A.F.C.'s Spotland stadium at the end of the 1988 season. The stadium became jointly owned by Hornets, Rochdale Council and Rochdale A.F.C.

In 1989, Hornets got promoted from the Second Division to the top tier. The club's record attendance at Spotland was set at 8,150 when Rochdale played Hornets on Boxing Day 1989.

In September 1990 Neil Holding briefly coached Hornets.

In 1991, Hornets appeared in the final of the Lancashire Cup.

ummer era

On May 9th 1996, Rochdale sacked their coach, Steve Gibson, after taking just one point from their first six games of the First Division season.

Deryck Fox became player-coach in May 1998, and made an immediate impact. A ten-match losing sequence was ended as Hornets won at Featherstone Rovers in Fox’s first match in charge. However, Hornets ended that 1998 campaign in next to bottom position in Division One.

In October 1998, Karl Marriott died following a training session and a couple of months later Roy Powell died in similar circumstances. Hornets struggled early in the campaign when they occupied bottom spot for a couple of weeks. They recovered slightly and had moved up to 15th position, fourth bottom, by late June.

On Wednesday the 30th of June 1999, it was announced that Deryck Fox was no longer Rochdale's coach. During his thirteen months as Hornets' coach, the club played 38 matches. They won 12, drew one and lost the remaining twenty-five. Bob Eccles took over as caretaker coach.

Steve Linnane became head coach in December 1999 but quit in June 2000 to become assistant coach at Super League club Halifax.

Steve Deakin, joined Rochdale Hornets as head coach in August 2000 before rejoining Keighley Cougars as head coach in September 2000 when incumbent Karl Harrison left to become assistant coach at Bradford Northern.

Martin Hall took up the position of coach at Rochdale Hornets in November 2000. He stepped in after the shock resignation of Steve Deakin who returned to Keighley after a few months in charge. He took Rochdale to two consecutive third-place finishes in the Northern Ford Premiership. Hall departed along with all the players after not renewing his contract after his failed bid to take over the club.

Bobbie Goulding arrived as player-coach in December 2003. He was in charge of Rochdale Hornets for two seasons, twice being nominated for coach of the year. He left in November 2005, citing frustration at the club's financial problems and his lack of a proper contract.

Darren Abram was appointed head coach two weeks later. Abram was dismissed on the 9th of July 2007 after a run of defeats which left the club facing relegation. Shaun Gartland was placed in temporary charge.

Bobbie Goulding was appointed as Rochdale Hornets coach for the second time in September 2007 and releaved of his duties in May 2008 after a run of six consecutive losses.

Darren Shaw was appointed as Rochdale Hornets coach in May 2008 after a previous spell as assistant coach under Bobbie Goulding in his first spell as player coach in 2003. []


*Frank Myler (May 1971 - October 1974)
*Graham Starkey (October 1974 - November 1975)
*Henry Delooze (November 1975 - November 1976)
*Kel Coslett (November 1976 - August 1979)
*Paul Longstaff (September 1979 - May 1981)
*Terry Fogerty (May 1981 - January 1982)
*Dick Bonser (January 1982 - May 1982)
*Bill Kirkbride (June 1982 - September 1984)
*Charlie Birdsall (September 1984 - April 1986)
*Eric Fitzsimons (June 1986 - June 1987)
*Eric Hughes (June 1987 - June 1988)
*Jim Crellin (June 1988 - June 1989)
*Allan Agar (July 1989 - January 1991)
*Brian Juliff - Allan Agar's assistant 1 game in January 1991 (42-0 at Castleford)
*Neil Holding (January (1991 - April 1991)
*Stan Gittins (April 1991 - January 1993)
*Peter Regan (January 1993 - October 1993)
*Steve Gibson (October 1993 - May 1996)
*Shane Tupaea (May 1996 - April 1998)
*Deryck Fox (May 1988 - June 1999)
*Bob Eccles
*Steve Linnane (December 1999 - June 2000)
*Steve Deakin (August 2000 - October 2000)
*Martin Hall (November 2000 - November 2003)
*Bobbie Goulding (December 2003 - November 2005)
*Darren Abram (November 2005 - July 2007)
*Shaun Gartland (July 2007 - September 2007)
*Bobby Goulding (September 2007 - May 2008)
*Darren Shaw (May 2008 - )

The Law Cup

The Law Cup is an annual match between Oldham and Rochdale Hornets, first contrested on the 7th of May 1921. Including the 2008 fixture, Oldham have won 36 to Rochdale's 22 with 3 drawn games. []

2008 Squad

External links

* [ Independent website]
* [ Hornets centenary booklet]
* [ National League website]
* [ Rochdale Hornets forum on]
* [ Rochdale Hornets forum on]
* [ Rochdale Hornets Fans Forums -]

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