Following the news that striker Robert Dale has been released by the club, the striker has been inducted immediately into the club’s “Hall of Fame”.
The talismanic Dale joined a relegation haunted Spartans side to face Wakefield-Emley on a March night in 2005. The club was at a pretty low ebb and were on the look out for a new hero. Robbie scored a hattrick within an hour, was substituted early in the second half to a standing ovation and Croft Park had their new ‘darling’.
The following season saw Rob outscore everyone in the country as the Spartans bulldozed their way to the Unibond title.
Our title charge hadn’t really got into full swing when we faced North Ferriby United away in January, the bookies had the Spartans as 50/1 outsiders to win the league as we faced the League’s inform team, a defeat would have seen us slip into mid table and leave us only realistically chasing a play off spot – We beat them 4-1, Rob scored a hattrick (including an audacious overhead kick) and the Spartans were on their way.
We played three games in four days towards the end of the season, Rob scored the crucial goal in all three. We needed to beat Matlock in the final week, Rob popped up at the back post to score a late winner.
Promotion saw the club move into the Conference North for the first time, Rob had attracted interest from several clubs including Oxford United where he’d been on trial, but was in the side when our first game saw us face Redditch United – We needn’t have feared, Blyth won 2-0, with Rob beating a couple of players before chipping the ‘keeper from 20 yards in the final minute.
He was that type of player!
All in all, Rob played 291 times for the Spartans and scored an impressive 96 goals. This despite often being the target of some roughhouse defending and being frequently played out of position as a winger – All this was done with the skill and style of a player who played the game as it should be played – A player who could dazzle and frustrate in equal measure, but always capable of producing a moment of magic that would lift you off your seat and get you talking.