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Keith Hill and David Flitcroft are like marmite, you either love them or hate, ok, it might sound clichéd but there’s no truer comparison when it comes to describing the duo aptly named Hillcroft.
That was proven when they upped and left Spotland to Barnsley, our fans were split, half wished them all the best and the other half wanted them lynched (well, not quite, but you get my drift!)
Of course, Hillcroft leaving left a sour taste in our mouths. One day he came out publicly saying he wasn’t going and then a couple of days later he was holding up a Barnsley scarf talking about new challenges, while we wallowed in self pity and watched our club pretty much fall apart within a matter of days given that he’d taken half the backroom staff with him. Oh and then he rubbed salt in the wounds by coming back for two of our best players!
Although I’m pretty sure that the majority of Rochdale fans would genuinely thank both Hilly and Flickers for what they did at Rochdale, mainly of course, achieving promotion after so long in the basement division of the Football League. In their time with us they completely changed how people viewed Rochdale and the ethos on the pitch.
They’re not your average management duo and they never will be, but that’s what makes them who they are. Hilly took over originally from being our youth coach as a temporary replacement but after a fantastic run of performances he was handed the job permanently. His footballing CV must look pretty impressive to say the least, in his first managerial role taking Rochdale to the play offs and eventually up to League One.
Perhaps the only gripe pretty much every Rochdale fan has with Keith Hill is his commenting about the fans in his interviews, which I believe he has already started at Barnsley. This became quite a regular thing from Hilly while he was with us even going to making remarks about comments on our message board. While I understand it must be frustrating reading negative remarks about his managerial abilities, he wasn’t doing himself any favours with the fans and actually made it worse.
So what can you expect from the Hillcroft regime?! One thing I really admire about Keith Hill is that he will only sign players who want to play for the club and will give nothing but 100%, if a player shows any kind of attitude or lacks ambition then he’ll be shown the door never to be seen or heard of again at the club. I also believe that they’re a great duo to play for and it was always fantastic to see the banter between our players and both of them.
You’ll also get some corking quotes along the way, one of my favourites from Hilly has to be “You can compare us at the moment to a bit of soft porn - there is an awful lot of foreplay and not a lot going on in the box.” He’ll also have a good go at winding up your opposition too, for example…”If we can't catch Notts County I'm sure the tax man will.”
And if that’s not enough, then I’m sure his flat cap will fit right in over in Yorkshire, while his beard growing antics will also keep you entertained for a little while!
And do Rochdale fans wish them all the luck in the world at Barnsley? Of course we do, but some of us also secretly hope there are a couple of hiccups along the way!