THE LONGEST WINTER: A SEASON WITH ENGLAND’S WORST EVER FOOTBALL TEAM by Matt Hodkinson
In 1973-74, Britain was in meltdown. The Arab-Israeli War had sent energy prices soaring. Petrol was scarce. Offices were limited to a temperature of 17c and power cuts were frequent. A three-day working week came in as inflation took hold and miners and other workers went on strike.
The northern mill town of Rochdale suffered more than most. Its cotton industry was on shut-down in the face of cheap imports, and the football team was a mirror image of the town – tired, defeated, clinging to life.
The Rochdale team of 1973-74 are considered the worst to play in the Football League. They finished bottom of the Third Division, winning just twice in 46 league matches. They closed the season with a 22-game winless run and played one home match in front of the lowest-ever post-war crowd. That season 32 players played for the team, many of them drafted in from amateur or Sunday league clubs.
The Longest Winter is as much a piece of forensic social history as it is a sports book. It evokes the smells, textures and moods of the early 1970s.
(Publisher: Pitch Publishing Ltd. August 2022. Hardcover: 304 pages)