Jordan Cronin: The Robbie Dale mural ensures his extraordinary Blyth Spartans legacy lives on
Robbie Dale has loomed large over Blyth Spartans for over 15 years – and that isn’t about to change anytime soon.
What started out as a supporter-led fundraiser in February became a reality this week when artist Frank Styles put the finishing touches to a new and iconic landmark in Blyth.
How many non-league football clubs – or football clubs in general – do you know that display a mural outside of their stadium?
That, indeed, is a testament to Robbie Dale himself and his incredible service to Blyth Spartans
His record of 680 appearances and 212 goals will, quite simply, never be beaten.
No words will ever do him and his influence on that good old famous club justice.
No words have to now. One look at the mural speaks millions of words. It sparks dozens of memories.
In a journey that started in March 2005, Dale, who signed from Ryton and Crawcrook Albion, has seen and done it all in green and white.
A hat-trick on his debut against Wakefield & Emley… people knew the lad was special but becoming Blyth’s all-time appearance holder? Surpassing the great Eddie Alder? Having his own mural outside Croft Park?
No one could have predicted this.
He made the outrageous seem simple, tormenting every single non-league – and occasionally international – defender as he breezed past them like they weren’t there.
That, stunning goals and just sheer brilliance became the norm.
Accolade after accolade followed – one of the biggest of them all was coming second in the Northern Premier League greatest-ever player's list by some guy called Jamie Vardy.
Blyth Spartans are well-known for their FA Cup giantkllling exploits – and twice Dale played an instrumental part as they reached the third round.
Then-Premier League side Blackburn Rovers visited Northumberland in 2009 before Dale, not for the first time, lifted the roof off Croft Park when he netted two past Birmingham City in 2015 for a 2-0 lead in the first-half.
No, the second-half didn’t happen. No, it did not end 3-2 to the Brummies.
He was a proud captain that day and throughout that cup run. It earned him the tag “the greatest non-league player never to turn pro” in one national newspaper.
It’d take a seriously brave person to argue against that being true.
Indeed, that was just the start of his success as skipper.
Promotion, a cup double and a run to the National League North play-offs – Blyth’s highest-ever finish in their 122 history – Dale led by example in more ways than one.
It was always a wonder why he didn’t turn professional. He had the opportunity.
Some will question his decision but most live in awe of his loyalty, love and passion for Blyth Spartans.
To a quiet and humble Robbie, don't let anyone tell you differently.
There is so much to be admired about a down-to-earth gent who gave supporters - past and present - a lifetime of memories, joy, happiness and so much more.
The Blyth supporters have now given something back to their local hero but the pleasure was all theirs.
As Blyth legend and former manager Harry Dunn once said, his like will never be seen again and his mural ensures his legacy will live on for generations to come.