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A Derby Day to Remember

16.50, Saturday August 29th 2009. Keith Stroud draws the curtain on one of the most memorable Dale games of the decade. Keith Hill’s men have finally ended the 16 year winless run against Bury at Spotland, and what a game it was. Whilst most hyped-up games fail to live up to expectation, this game had everything you expect from a lower league grudge match and the so called 9th biggest derby in the Football League (no, really!).

Or at least the 2nd half did. In truth, the 1st half was a bit of a damp squib with neither keeper having a save to make. Possibly the main talking point was Bury centre back Efe Sodje ensuring he became on even bigger figure of hate amongst the Spotland faithful after a forearm smash on home debutant Chris O’Grady. He then consolidated his place in the bad books by giving the finger to the TDS Stand whilst being greeted by chants of “w*nker! w*nker!”. As if the bandana doesn’t earn him enough ridicule, he goes and draws even more attention to himself!

Efe Sodje won’t be receiving many Christmas cards from Rochdale

Needless to say the half ended 0-0. If the 1st half petered out into a non-event, then the 2nd half more than made up for it as Dale simply outfought, outclassed and outplayed the Bucket Shakers (a reference to their almost annual financial crisis a few years ago). No-one knows what Keith Hill said in that magical 15 minute interval, but it most definitely worked. Whatever Alan Knill said to his men, didn’t.

The men in blue launched attack after attack on the Bury goal and the Shakers looked incapable of handling Dale. Had it not been for Wayne Brown putting in a stellar performance in net then they would have made the breakthrough much earlier than the 59th minute, when Joe Thompson’s shot was wickedly deflected past Brown after some good work by Will Buckley down the left flank. I honestly don’t think there’s anything more satisfying than seeing a local lad scoring in a local derby, and Joe Thompson is so local he doesn’t even need to drive to training. Hopefully now Thompson won’t be seen as the scapegoat he has been in the past, I don’t know what he has to do to win the crowd over sometimes, but if this doesn’t help then I don’t think anything will.

Joe Thompson is silencing his critics after his fine start to the season

From this point onwards there was only ever going to be one winner and Chris Dagnall effectively ended the match as a contest in the 73rd minute when he timed his run to perfection, beating the non-existant offside trap and slipping the ball past Brown into the net. It was a brilliant goal and what we’ve come to expect from Daggers, he seemed to take an age to actually get his shot off but it ended up in the right place and was well worth what seemed like a lifetime of waiting.

So, 2-0 up and you could forgive Dale for sitting back and defending their lead. However this isn’t the Keith Hill way and his men continued to push forward looking for a 3rd goal and when Will Buckley went down in the box (acrobatically I may add) Tom Kennedy stepped up to dispatch the 80th minute spot kick.

The story of Tom Kennedy is an interesting one. Son of former Bury player Keith Kennedy, and nephew of famous Liverpool defender Alan Kennedy, TK is the latest in a long line of footballers in his family. Born, bred and playing for Bury since the age of 8, a fallout with Chris Casper (Bury manager at the time) led to his release at the end of the 2006/07 season when he subsequently signed for Dale. Now considered public enemy nunber one at Gigg Lane, Kennedy has been booed near enough every time he has touched the ball by Bury fans ever since signing for us.

What happened next though wasn’t predicted by many. TK slotted the penalty into the top corner of the net and proceeded to run the length of the Westrose Leisure Stand (which housed the Bury fans), with his hands cupped to his ear. Unsurprisingly, the move angered the Bury fans including one individual who felt the need to invade the pitch and approach Kennedy. He soon backed off when he saw Marcus Holness approaching! I must say the sight of a tubby little guy in a dodgy jacket and cap thinking he’s an extra out of “The Football Factory” absolutely bricking himself when confronted by a 19 year old man mountain like Holness just added to the occasion.

Tom Kennedy: He’s not a Bucket anymore!

The rest of the match passed without any note and the post-match topic of conversation in the car home was 10% result based, and 90% about the actions of a certain Mr Kennedy. Of course the Bury fans are still going on about it now, setting up multiple Facebook “hate” groups, including one campaigning to get him banned for the season (yes, really!). The group quotes:

his actions in yesterdays derby could of led too (sic) a riot (it almost did) and i think as a pro footballer he should know better than to goad fans of the opposing team
So let me get this straight, fans can give as much abuse as they like but when somebody gives a bit back they throw their toys out of the pram? Put yourself in his boots, if you heard people chanting abuse to you about your immediate family would you just stand there and take it? I think not.
The ill-informed Steve Claridge also went down in many Dale fan’s opinions on Saturday night too. Having shown the League 2 highlights, Claridge and Manish Bhasin went on to lambast Kennedy’s acts, calling it “mindless” and “lunacy”. Of course in typical BBC fashion there was nothing mentioned about the fact that Tom used to play for Bury, or the abuse he’s subjected to every time we play them. To be honest, I doubt his words were taken seriously though, as he referred to Bury as “Burnley” and the results was incorrectly classed as our first win of the season, unbelievable!

Clueless Claridge

Many Dale fans have written to the BBC to register their anger at the misguided comments, but I’m not going to bother. After all, we’ve just beaten the Buckets at home for the first time since I was three years old, who cares what this clown thinks?

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