Harry Kane made his league debut there while on loan at Leyton Orient, and Dele Alli played at Spotland with MK Dons, but they didn’t play on a surface quite as bad as on Tuesday night, when Ian Henderson’s fifth FA Cup goal of the season put out Millwall. Neil Harris, the Lions’ manager, labelled the sand-covered pitch the worst he had ever seen.
Henderson’s well-worked goal booked Rochdale’s place in the last 16 for the just the third time in their history. Volunteers – and several tons of sand – helped the pitch to pass an inspection just hours before kick-off.
Henderson said: “I thought I was on Blackpool beach when I first stepped on it. You have to be incredibly brave as a footballer to still want the ball, to still run just as hard, to still want to compete. Regardless of the surface, it takes an element of technical ability to pass the ball.