Former Dale chairman David Kilpatrick dies, 78

Date published: 22 September 2021

Former Rochdale AFC chairman David Kilpatrick has sadly died at the age of 78 (Tuesday 21 September).

Mr Kilpatrick has a long association with the club, dating back over 40 years.

Rochdale AFC said it was "saddened" to learn of Mr Kilpatrick's death: "Our thoughts are with Mr Kilpatrick’s family and friends at this sad time, and we send our condolences to them."

In August 1980, Spotland had a different look and feel to the modern ground that fans visit today. The club had been through turbulent times with several re-election applications.

Following the departure of long-standing chairman, Fred Ratcliffe, the club faced a challenge of a different type. As the debts built up and leverages against Spotland grew, Littleborough-based businessman David Kilpatrick, then aged 36-years-old, stepped forward to join the board of directors along with his friend, Graham Morris.

In doing so, many say he saved Rochdale AFC and ensured his local football club didn’t disappear into the abyss. Many fans agree that Rochdale AFC would no longer exist without David and Graham.  

As the years went on, the club – and Spotland – began to change.


David Kilpatrick and Paul Ormerod
David Kilpatrick (left) pictured in 2019 when he was made a Freeman of the borough of Rochdale


New stands were erected, and the club broke its transfer records to sign new players. Mr Kilpatrick and his board room were the catalyst and, inevitably, results on the pitch improved. 

There were ups and downs along the way, most notably when Mr Kilpatrick and the board faced diehards at a difficult fans’ forum. On that occasion, David eloquently explained his thoughts; his charisma and wit enabled him to light up almost any occasion.

Mr Kilpatrick always spoke well; he was astute, and he wasn’t afraid to make difficult decisions. He was an open and honest chairman, and he always had an ear for the fans. 

Mr Kilpatrick served Rochdale AFC as chairman until 2007, a total of 27 years. His tenure at the club will always be fondly remembered by supporters. He will also be fondly remembered by many as one of the ‘Overcoat Men’, a nod to the book written about his and Mr Morris’ exploits to save the club.

Mr Kilpatrick remained a familiar face after standing down. Having been awarded life vice-presidency, he regularly attended matches at the Crown Oil Arena.

He was also a pivotal figure in the recent struggles to retain fan ownership of the club.

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