TEARS OF JOY FOR FAMILY MAN HILL
TOUGH MAN Keith Hill revealed he turned into “a bit of a softy” after his Rochdale side clinched automatic promotion with a home win over Cheltenham.
First-half goals from Peter Vincenti and Ian Henderson were enough to take Dale top of the League Two table with one match remaining and their place in the third tier next term is guaranteed.
Hill, who brought Rochdale their first promotion in 41 years in 2010, said the bond between his staff and players was unrivalled.
“There were tears when I saw my own Mum and it means so much to my family, which makes me emotional,” Hill said.
“Physical pain I can deal with, but emotional pain, wow, I’m a bit of a softy!
“We have achieved such a lot and the players have been superb. It’s time for them to celebrate now and they deserve that opportunity for the next few days.”
Hill now wants Dale to go on and take the title with a final day win over Newport County.
“We still want to achieve something the club have never done and put a trophy in the cabinet,” he said. “That’s our dream and we might not do it, but we will do all we can to do it.The players bring the best out of me, there’s a special relationship, with no egos or selfishness.
“There is a deep respect for everyone and there is no line, but nobody oversteps anything. There is an unbelievable mutual respect, almost a kindred spirit between us all, staff and players. “You can reap massive rewards with those kinds of bonds.We are educators, want to promote manners, fine young men to our community.”
Cheltenham boss Mark Yates said it was ‘Rochdale’s day’ and he wants his side to emulate their achievements next year after a disappointing season. “Rochdale proved what a decent side they are and it’s all about them,”Yates said.
“They started really well and we had no answers.We were guilty of not starting as well as we’d have liked, but they ran out comfortable winners and these are the scenes we want to have at our place next year.
“That’s something we can take from the game, this is what we are striving for and we have to try and make it happen next year.
“We thought we might frustrate them, but they scored two goals, when we were powerpuff in the middle of the park and they broke through us too many times.The first two times they did it told and they won it at a canter.”
The opener came after a run from Henderson and a low cross, which Matt Richards failed to cut out and Vincenti finished calmly past Scott Brown in the tenth minute.
Henderson doubled the lead six minutes later after the outstanding Bastien Hery fed George Donnelly, with Cheltenham’s defence overrun.
Donnelly saw an effort cleared off the line by Craig Braham-Barrett two minutes later and while Joe Hanks smashed a shot wide, Rochdale protected their advantage expertly and the party could begin.