By Brian Sears
28 January 2010
Heaven forfend that a humble statistician should put the Heebie-jeebies on any club, but it has occured to us after this midweek’s games that Rochdale are currently sitting at the top of League Two, 11 points above the play-off zone and therefore, one must conclude, be in with a shout at promotion.
Why should this be so fantastically exciting? Because Rochdale – as any statistician worth the breathable coating on his anorak will tell you – are one of England’s “top four” by length of time they have stayed in one division without moving, up or down.
Their 36 years in one place are bettered only by Arsenal’s 64 post-war seasons in the top division, Everton’s 56 years in the same place and Liverpool’s 48 at the highest level too. Arsenal have actually been in the top division non-stop since well before the war.
Rochdale have been in the fourth tier of the English game – or the Fourth Division in old money, which became the Third Division, now League Two – since 1974.
When they fell there from the old, old Third Division, Harold Wilson was the British Prime Minister, Richard Nixon was the US President (still yet to be disgraced), Charles De Gaulle was a newly opened airport in Paris, and Second Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese soldier from World War II, has just come out of a Philippines jungle to surrender, 29 years after the cessation of hostilities.
Rochdale’s private fight, against bottom-division-ness, goes bravely on. Maybe the end is in sight for them too.
Clubs with most post-war seasons in their current division
Arsenal – 64
Everton – 56
Liverpool – 48
Rochdale – 36
Man Utd – 35
Tottenham – 32
Aston Villa – 22
Chelsea – 21
No other club more than 20.