FORMER York City striker Lee Nogan is hoping Rochdale’s Spotland stadium can prove as happy a hunting ground for Gary Mills’ men as it did for him during his Bootham Crescent career.
Nogan bagged a brace during a 2-1 win on City’s last visit to the Lancashire club in December 2003.
In fact, Nogan finished on the winning side during all three of his trips to Rochdale with the Minstermen.
The only exception to that otherwise unblemished record during Nogan’s five-year spell in North Yorkshire came when he was unable to play in a nine-goal thriller that the hosts edged 5-4 in 2002.
A decade on and Dale are currently struggling at home, having won just three of their 13 Spotland outings this term.
The last time the two teams met, Nogan’s opening goal led to a chorus of boos at half-time from disgruntled Rochdale supporters and the former Wales international believes positive backing from the visiting end tomorrow could help City snare a welcome win.
He said: “Rochdale are not a big club and have done well to stay in the division really. It’s never an intimidating place to go to and I enjoyed playing there.
“The pitch was quite close to the stands and York always took a few fans there, which helps when they get behind the team. I hope the omens from past seasons help the players get the result tomorrow.”
Back in 2003, Nogan was also player-manager Chris Brass’ number two and spared the latter’s blushes on that year-ending victory against a Rochdale team that included future Minstermen Andy Bishop, Kevin Donovan and Leo Bertos.
After Nogan had converted a first-half cross from Darren Dunning, Brass then conceded a second penalty in as many games with Kevin Townson converting from the spot.
City, though, secured maximum points when Nogan fired in off a post following a second-half Darren Edmondson raid down the right.
The victory saw Brass’ team climb to within two points of the play-off positions but, after beating Carlisle at home in their next encounter, City failed to win any of their remaining 20 games and tumbled into non-League football.
Memories of that painful plummet have set alarm bells ringing in some quarters at Bootham Crescent but Nogan believes the current situation – Gary Mills’ team are without a win in seven fixtures – bears no comparison to the club’s 2003/4 fortunes.
He added: “We were on a good run at the time when we won at Rochdale but that season ended up being my worst in football. Once we got into that rut, we had a young team and it was hard to instil confidence into it.
“There were a few experienced players but some could have done more for the cause. We had been playing good football but these things happen and, with the small squad we had, I never felt we were safe at the turn of the year.
“You need mentally strong players, which we didn’t have when we went down. We didn’t have enough characters but I’ve shared dressing rooms with the likes of Michael Ingham and David McGurk and they are the type of players you would want to call upon.
“The more games that pass by, the more you start thinking when is the result going to come but I think York will be fine this season. I saw them playing very well on the television against AFC Wimbledon when they were unlucky to lose.”
Nogan also insists that now is not the time to query Mills’ position as manager. saying: “He’s done a good job and nobody should be questioning him yet. I think the club’s main emphasis should be staying in the League and establishing themselves before moving to the new ground.
“He will be trying not to make things too serious in training to maintain a happy camp. He won’t be making too much of an issue of the fact that the team needs a win but must keep believing in what has worked for him before.
“It only takes a couple of results to turn things around and the results will come if you’re getting the performances. If you never look like scoring or keeping a clean sheet that’s the time to worry and I don’t think that’s the case at York.”
How it was back then
City team (v Rochdale on December 28, 2003): Ovendale, Edmondson, Brass, Smith, Hope, Merris, Cooper (Brackstone), Ward, Dunning, Bullock, Nogan (Shaw).
Number one selling UK single on the day: Mad World (Michael Andrews and Gary Jules).
It also happened on this day: Former cabinet member Claire Short calls for Tony Blair to step down as Prime Minister due to his handling of the Iraq war.