Over the past 10 years, Spotland has been re-developed. The only remaining stand pre this period in the Sandy Lane end and is also the only terraced stand left in the ground. The more vocal home supporters stand here. Opposite this stand is a single tiered all seated stand with two supporting pillars which can block your view of the action. The main stand has a number of pillars and also houses the executive boxes.
Up to 3,600 visiting supporters can be accommodated and will be situated in the Wilbutts Lane stand running alongside the pitch. Views are unobstructed and very good whilst leg room, facilities and refreshments are all more than reasonable.
Spotland seating plan:
Studds, is the name of the Rochdale social club situated under the Pearl Street Stand. It serves food, has two TVs, and opens at midday on Saturdays, and from 6 pm for midweek matches. They do allow a few away fans in but you're probably best off keeping club colours covered. The same goes for 2 other pubs situated at the stadium - The Ratcliffe Arms and The Church Inn. All of which are very nice and reasonably priced establishments.
There is a small chippy on Wilbutts Lane which serves a fantastic portion of fish and chips for just £3. Well worth a visit and don't let the queues put you off. Alternatively, within 1 mile you'll find a McDonalds and a Pizza Hut.
There is only permit holders parking at the stadium itself and street parking is very limited due to the residents only schemes. There are a few private car parks with the most recommended of which being Oulder Hill School. The school is located on the way up to the ground, on the left hand side, along Sandy Lane. Be aware that the walk to the stadium is uphill and approximately 10 minutes away. The back after the game is a lot easier however!
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The nearest / closest train station to Rochdale's Spotland Stadium is Rochdale rail. This is approx 3 miles from the ground.
There is a direct bus service from the station on match days. The bus leaves the station every half hour (15 and 45 past) and takes you direct to the stadium.
Rivals - Bury, Burnley, Oldham, Man Utd, Man City
Travel: I travelled by rail from Newcastle to Manchester. On getting off the train at Victoria Station I got on one of the frequent trams to Rochdale town centre. It was a fairly lengthy 50 minute journey but comfortable enough. The quicker, Northern Rail trains weren't an option due to a strike that day. Despite looking at Google Maps before the trip and intending to walk I caught sight of a 468 bus at the interchange opposite. I could remember reading reviews that mentioned it passing Spotland so chose that instead. A £2.40 single fare dropped me off outside.
Refreshments: I Found the chippy opposite the Wilbutts Lane Stand and enjoyed my meat and potato pie and chips before doing an external lap of the ground. I then went into the Ratcliffe Bar. It was very large with various screens showing the televised Fulham v Man United match. It mainly housed away fans but not exclusively. Supporters were mixing happily in the corner of the bar I chose. Respect for the passion of both sets of fans and a reminder there's more to football than the hype of the Premier League. From there I tried the 'Dale bar' next door, which as the name suggests was restricted to home fans, all of whom were very friendly. The prices were a bit lower too.
Impressions: Spotland is a tidy, traditional ground which I found to be homely. Away fans were housed in possibly the best stand, along one side of the pitch. I bought a ticket for the Pearl Street Stand from the ticket office, although I could have paid on the gate I believe. The Pearl Street stand has the 'Carlsberg lounge' within it. Again numerous screens to follow the scores elsewhere.
Atmosphere: A fairly even encounter, one goal was likely to edge it, as turned out to be the case, Coventry winning 1-0. The stewards all very helpful including the female steward who warned me about some potential trouble outside as she let me out. Thankfully I didn't see any.
Anything Else: I braved the walk back to the tram aided by the fact the road I took back was called Spotland Road most of the way and the clue was in the name. I caught a tram straight back to Manchester in time for a couple of pints before my train back.
Enjoy: Not the best of games but met some nice fans from both sides. All of them incredibly helpful and passionate in following their local teams. Rochdale fans especially in living with Manchester United and City so nearby. Good luck to you all and you have my utmost respect.