Rochdale coach Ian Talbot is dreaming of a fairytale ending to the 2013 season with victory in the Kingstone Press Championship One Play-off Final at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday (2.00pm).
Rochdale and Oldham have already met in the play-offs, with the Hornets triumphing thanks to a last-minute drop-goal from Paul Crook, but they will have to beat their local rivals once again to clinch promotion – and their first silverware in almost a century.
“To win promotions would be a fairy tale ending to the season,” said Talbot. “Obviously there’s a lot of competition between the two clubs but it’s been a long time since Rochdale won a trophy, over 90 years, so it would be fantastic for us to change that.
“Rochdale are sleeping giants in Rugby League. The fans deserve success and there are a lot of people who have been working hard behind the scenes at Rochdale who deserve it as well.
“But we are not taking anything for granted. We know that we will have to be at our best to be in with a chance of winning the game.
“We also know that they are a good side but both teams are looking towards that much-coveted promotion.”
Rochdale have been climbing the Kingstone Press Championship One table gradually over the last few years but Talbot, who joined the club for the 2013 campaign, was forced to bring in a host of new faces in the off-season which brought its own challenges.
“We always knew that, if we played to our potential, promotion was a realistic aim,” he said. “We have definitely gelled as a team very quickly.
“In the off season I was behind in terms of recruitment at one point, and that’s just testament to the players who have come in and the hard work they have put in to gel quickly.
“Towards the end of the season we really started to get that consistency. We had a slight blip in the middle of the season and at one point I had 10 players out through injury, but we had to keep going, knowing that we would come good in the end.”