Category Archives: Interviews

Interview with Richard Bellis? Co-editor of the Chester’s fanzine

Chester fc celebrate promotion from the Evo-stik Premier division in 2012 (c) BBC

Chester fc celebrate promotion from the Evo-stik Premier division in 2012 (c) BBC

It has been three years since Chester City went and were forced into reforming and became Chester FC and were place into the Northern Premier League. After three consecutive promotions they have returned to the Conference Premier.

The Blues haven’t made the best of starts to life back in the Conference Premier and after five games the sit 23rd in the league table. We spoke to the co-editor of the Blue and White fanzine Richard Bellis to discuss Chester fc goings on.

The main thing for Chester fans was there return to the Conference Premier and it has delighted the Blues faithful as Bellis explained: Good! “Well, the poor start isn’t good, but it’s great to be back in the division where the previous incarnation of the club folded.

“It’s been a brilliant three years getting promoted through the divisions but now it’s back to normal I suppose – not being the best team in the league, having to scrap for every point and so on. It’s fun still, but in a different way.

“The goals and the results mean more – we can’t expect to tonk anybody like we have over the last few years.”

The league table shows Chester haven’t had the best of start to life back in the Conference which read five games played no wins, no draws and 5 losses. Results were 3-0 against Barnet, 2-0 against Hereford, 2-0 against Woking, 3-1 against Kidderminster and 2-1 against Forest Green Rovers on Bank Holiday Monday.

Bellis explains why this is the case: “Basically, it’s a steep learning curve. Defensively we can’t defend corners and something like nine of the twelve goals we’ve conceded have been from set-pieces.

“Up top we’re creating few chances and not putting away enough, but we have the makings of a good team in there. We’ve also had an extremely difficult start, playing five full-time clubs in our first six matches was never going to be easy.

“Though we were unlucky not to nick a point against Forest Green I thought.”

The Blues have signed a number of players and last season they had a team full of match winners as the made the charge to the Blue Square North title.

So who will be the key men for The Seals?

“It’s been quite mixed. Some have slotted in very well: Kevin McIntyre, Michael Kay and the Turner twins (on loan) look good. Others have looked decent: Lee Pugh, Danny Harrison, Alex Titchener.

“Then others have looked pretty bad, but let’s not name names.

“In terms of key men Ben Mills played well last match and grabbed a goal, Jamie Reed is supposed to be good, though he hasn’t played too much.

“Alex Titchener looks a good bet for a partnership up front with Mills, but I think this year will be a team effort, unless we can get another Antoni Sarcevic like player who can be our creative hub in midfield. We have a team of grafters at the minute.”

A number of teams in the Skrill Premier are full time. But one of the teams that are not full time is Chester. So will Chester become a full time team in the near future: “No. We can’t afford full-time football so we certainly shouldn’t go full-time.

“Otherwise we’d be back down the divisions after going bankrupt again. To be fair I don’t think many people seriously think we should go full-time yet as we all have a good idea about the state of the club’s finances – one of the benefits of being fan owned.”

This Saturday sees the return of the much anticipated Cross Boarder Derby as Chester visit the Racecourse ground, the home of Wrexham FC. The game has been made a bubble game, which mean away fans have to travel into the ground on official transport only. The game has also been a 1pm kick off.

“It’s the first fixture we all looked for and everyone is really excited about the match, though the ridiculous restrictions put in place by the police has taken some of the shine off the day.

“Why a non-league fixture that is going to attract about 6,000 fans needs to be a ‘bubble’ match is beyond me. If anything it’ll encourage trouble as Chester fans living in Wrexham will just risk it and go in the home end.

The racecourse ground will welcome the first Cross Boarder derby of the season.  photo by Steve Pic

The racecourse ground will welcome the first Cross Boarder derby of the season.
photo by Steve Pic

“North Wales Police will then use that as an excuse to bubble all future derbies for us. It’s incompetence of the highest order. The match will be good though.”

“It’s our biggest game since we reformed, so it’d be our biggest win. But the three league titles in a row obviously stand out in terms of achievements.

“On the day one team can upset the form book, but to win any league you have to be the best team. Being the best team in three divisions of increasing difficulty – and making them look increasingly easy – is something that can’t be matched by one game of football. Would still love to see us win though! But it’s got 0-0 written all over it.”

QnA with Trafford FC Ally Brown

Ally Brown during his Trafford days (c) Richard Scott

Ally Brown during his Trafford days (c) Richard Scott

Trafford FC are a Manchester based club who have just been promoted to the Northern Premier League Premier Division. The Non-league scene caught up with Trafford defender Ally Brown to see how the club are preparing for life in Premier Division.

Hi Ally, first of all are you looking forward to Trafford starting life in the Evo-stik Premier Division?
I am looking forward to the new season of course. This is the highest tier on the football pyramid that Trafford FC have occupied in there short 23 year history. They have made some great strides to this point. This season is a terrific reward for the supporters, management, local community and our sponsors KMD Recycling. Trafford fc have an unbelievable set of volunteers who have re-painted the ground, looked after the facilities and of course provided us with a terrific playing surface to perform. I look forward to rewarding all those connected with the club more memorable games such as last season being 2-0 down to Warrington at home and coming back to win 3-2 (twice in a week) and of course the great night at Cammell Laird when we secured promotion.

The fixtures came out last week and Trafford’s first three games are Matlock at home, Blyth away and Stafford away what are your thoughts on this start?

I would have taken anyone at home first game, we have a great home record at Shawe View. Blyth will be hard for the lads in mid-week, we are always positive and to achieve our targets this year we will be going there to get 3 points. Stafford are managed by one of my former coaches from my time at Newcastle Town, Greg Clowes and Dorian Garner, they have been there 2-3 season now so you would expect them to be a force.

Following on from these three Trafford welcome FC United of Manchester. How much are you looking forward to?

I am excited for the community and everyone that follows Trafford, I know both managers drink in the same pub and we have played them in pre-season before. But for 90mins friendships aside we will want to win the game. It will be a great footballing match. I will always fancy us at home.

Apart from these who else are you looking forward to playing and why?

I am looking forward to returning to Victory Park. Chorley is a great club a fantastic set of supporters, management, players.

Many teams promoted to the Evo-stik Premier do quite well in the debut season. Can Trafford follow suit?

It’s all about confidence. Promotion gives any player a massive lift and you cannot wait to get the next season started. In our dressing room we know what we’ve got and we know what we need to do. Team spirit, confidence and quality will help us to continue on from last season.

How do you think Trafford will do this season?
I want to go up. That comes from going out every Saturday and Tuesday night wanting to win.

Trafford’s pre-season has got underway, with a draw at Buckley and a win against Altrincham how is pre-season going for yourself?

I got a goal away at Buckley carrying on from last year which was pleasing. But Altrincham was a great test, especially in the heat. We played our football really well, worked on combinations and specific patterns of play. We are not far off where we want to be, come Matlock at home.

Finally Ally can you tell us who do you think will win the league this season and the play offs?
It’s between Chorley and FC United for me. There are others who will be there or there abouts: Fylde, Witton, Marine.

Many thanks to Ally for taking the time out to answer the questions and we wish Trafford FC all the best for their first season in the Premier Division.

FC United’s Matt Walwyn look at the draw against former club Chorley

The FA Cup draw has thrown up some interesting ties. But, the stand out is in the first qualifying round, as FC United Of Manchester will host Evo-stik Premier Division rivals Chorley FC.

There is just over 20 miles between the two club so, a number of players have played for both sides- James Holden, Simon Garner and Chris Amadi, just three names of former players to don the Black and While stripes of Chorley and the Red of FC United of Manchester.

Matt Walwyn, now of FC United Of Manchester- formerly of Chorley FC  photo by Richard Scott

Matt Walwyn, now of FC United Of Manchester- formerly of Chorley FC
photo by Richard Scott


Another one of those players is Matt Walwyn and the Non-league scene caught up with the tricky winger after the draw was announced. Here is what Walwyn first thoughts were on the draw: “When I checked our website to see who we had been drawn against and saw that it was Chorley.

“my first thought was that it’s a tough draw, Chorley always give us a good game, proving last year when they beat us at home (3-1).”

Last season FC United made the play off final but lost out 2-1 to Hednesford Town at Keys Park while Chorley just missed out on the end of season play off but the previous season both sides made the play off met in the semi final with FC United Of Manchester winning 2-0.

As Walwyn said the game will be tough for both teams and no doubt both teams will be challenging for promotion come the end of the season once again so is this a good draw for FC United or would they have preferred a tie against a lower ranked club say Bamber Bridge or Lancaster City: “Come the end of the season I expect to see FC UTD around the top positions with the likes of Chorley and Fylde, they both have very strong teams.

“so for our progression a lower team would have been ideal but, what ever the team your against, we all know the FA CUP can bring some memorable games.”

This summer Chorley have moved to sign FC United duo Jake Cotterll and Carlos Roca from the Gigg Lane outfit. While former FC United shot stopper Sam Ashton has made the move to Victory Park from Skelmersdale United.

All three will get a great reception according to Walwyn: “I think that they will get or hopefully get a good reception, I didn’t see much of Roca because of his injured but he is a very sharp and tricky winger.

“I was sad to Jake leave because I believe he is a quality player and should be playing higher, I think Gary will be able to improve him even more and he will fit into his team perfect.”

Walwyn spent the 2011-2012 season at Victory Park, the home of Chorley FC. At Chorley they were semi finalist of the Play offs and were winners of the Lancashire Co-Operative Challenging trophy so what are Walwyn memories of being at Victory Park?

“Being able to managed by Gary Flitcroft and Matt Jansen was quality, as they know how to get the best out of you. Playing in front of 600 plus week was a good memory too, the club has an amazing fan base.

“I think the favorite memory was my first away trip with the team when we won 4-3 and I scored the winner (away at Mickleover Sports after being 3-1 down), that goes down as my best highlight I think.”

But how does this compare to playing in front of an average of 2,000 fans at FC United Of Manchester? FC is a quality club, the club is run in a very professional way throughout from match days to training to the behind the scenes. Also you have the fans, being able to play in front of them every week without fail is an amazingly feeling.

“Even our away trip to Germany in May there was around 800 fans that travelled out to watch us play. That sort of dedication from the fans and club will only move the club forward in years to come, its just up to us lads to provide the results.”

The game takes place on Saturday the 14th September and is set to take place at Gigg Lane, where FC United are ground sharing and here is how Matt sees the game going: “It will be a tough game for both teams, but its got to be an FC win hasn’t it? What ever the outcome though I am sure it will be an entertaining game like always.”

The Full FA Cup draw can be seen on the FA website http://www.thefa.com/TheFACup/News/2013/Jul/fa-cup-draws-201314.aspx

Telford’s Grand on pre-season

Pre-season can just about be one of most boring times of the footballing season. The close season is finally coming to an end and the new season is starting to bubble nicely in the thoughts of everyone’s mind.

Simon Grand during his Southport FC days (c) AFC Telford United website

Simon Grand during his Southport FC days (c) AFC Telford United website

The fixture list comes out and new signings are made as well some players leave for pasture new. But along all that is the thought of pre-season, which can be rather dull.

We caught up with new AFC Telford United defender Simon Grand to talk about what pre-season football is like for a non-league footballer.

Grand joined Telford this summer after two years at Southport FC. He made the move with boss Liam Watson who joined Telford following the final game of the 2012-2013 season.

Grand has played in both the football league and non-league football so he certainly is in a qualified position to talk about the difference between pre-season for non-league and a football league club and there isn’t much of a difference: “It’s not really much different from league clubs. I think the only difference will be between part time and full time. That doesn’t make it easier, just means you squeeze more work into a shorter period of time.”

One myth that people have about pre-season is that all you do as a player is run and run, lap after lap and not even kick a ball until the friendlies take place. But can Grand confirm this really is the case?
“Yes pre-season is all about regaining your fitness from over summer so running is always the case. Me personally I hate it ha ha. Don’t enjoy it one bit because its 8 weeks of pain and graft before the enjoyable football side starts. But it’s a necessity unfortunately.”

As previously mentioned Grand has played both in the football league and non-league for teams such as Morecambe, Rochdale, Aldershot, Northwhich Victoria and Fleetwood Town.

So despite pre-season being tough Grand does have some wonderful memories of pre-season including a trip to Austria Alps with Fleetwood Town FC in 2010, which includes a game against FC Universitatea Craiova which saw the Cod Army lose 3-0 but this trip ranked among the top time in pre-season for Grand: “ During my time at Fleetwood I was lucky enough to go to pre-season training camp in the Austrian Alps. It was hard high altitude training but something different and that made it enjoyable. Also spent a training camp in Ibiza with Carlisle and that was like torture because we weren’t allowed to do anything but train.”

He’s very old school. Lots of running on the running track and no ball work till the friendly games. It’s effective though because at Southport we were part time and one of the fittest teams in the league.

It’s not important too much as the results don’t matter. Playing against better opposition is always good because its good on a personal level to play against top players and good for fitness levels working hard against a better team, which is what pre season, is all about.

But in terms of Indivual games which one of the many pre-season games stand out in the mind for Simon. Well it dates back to 2004 as Carlisle (then in the Conference) played Barrow AFC, who was relegated alongside Grand’s new club AFC Telford from the Conference Premier last season. Grand explains why: “It’s not a big one but I was on trial at Carlisle playing against barrow away. I scored and played well and from there ended up staying at the club for 3 years. We won promotion through the Conference play offs and then won the League Two title.”

Some people claim that pre-season is not needed and teams should be able to start the season on the opening day of the season and be ready for it but that is not the case as Grand will tell you: “ Pre season is a must. I’ve been a pro for 14 years now and as much as I dislike all the running it is vital. Even the first few games of the season players aren’t at 100%. It takes a couple of competitive games to get to full fitness and to gel as a team.”

Looking ahead past pre-season and into the 2013-2014 season Grand believe the Bucks can achieve promotion and said that it is his personal aim to be lifting a trophy to get Telford promoted.

Q and A with Chorley winger Paul Jarvis

Paul Jarvis is a winger for Chorley FC having joined the Magpies from AFC Fylde earlier this year. Having previously played Morecambe, Tipton Town and Lancaster City.

The Non-league scene caught up with the tricky winger ahead of his first full season at Victory Park, the home of the Magpies.

First of all Paul, the new season is just round the corner how much are you looking forward to it?

I’m quite looking forward to it to be honest. I got married a couple of weeks after the end of the season, had a great stag, great day and great honeymoon, relaxed a bit but am ready to get back to kicking a ball now.

Paul Jarvis controls the ball ahead of the Buxton defender.

Paul Jarvis controls the ball ahead of the Buxton defender.

Pre-season has said to be a tough time for footballers, what are your thoughts of pre-season?

It always seems to never be as tough as you think it will be in terms of fitness sessions. The hardest thing is getting used to playing matches again compounded in pre season by playing against league teams who are fitter, stronger and play at a higher tempo.

For Chorley they were due to play your old club Morecambe before it was changed for Blackburn. How much were you looking forward to that game?

I was looking forward to it because I still have a lot of ties with Morecambe, plus my work were lined up to sponsor the game so it would have been the source of office conversation for a few days afterwards.

What was your time like at Morecambe?

As a pro at Morecambe it wasn’t the most enjoyable time of my career ~ they had just been promoted and were looking to stay in the league, so chances for the younger players were few and far between. It’s a shame really as that was not the case under the previous manager Jim Harvey, or seems to be with Jimbo, so I guess I was a bit unlucky in progressing into the 1st team squad when I did.

How pleased are you to see that Morecambe are establishing themselves in the Football League?

I’m glad because it’s a good club, well run, Jim is a great leader and they are competing against a lot of strong teams, so are doing well.

You joined Chorley in February from AFC Fylde what made you want to switch across Lancashire?

Many reasons ~ the history of Chorley FC, as a proper town team with a good fan base. Gaz (Garry Flitcroft) also made it clear he wanted me to be in his team, and was very positive when we spoke. Oh and I had been transfer listed at Fylde!

Last season was a poor one for Chorley how will the new season be for the Magpies?

I think if we carry on the way we left off from last season we will do just fine. We’ve added a few to the squad, we are a very close bunch of lads and staff who play for each other and enjoy it, in my opinion not many teams will be able to match us. I think top three is realistic.

Who are you looking forward to come up against next season?

Fylde of course, and FC United of Manchester.

Thanks for you time Paul and we wish Chorley FC all the best for the new season ahead.

Interview with James Doe, founder of Non-league day

In 2010, a nationwide event was set up called- Non-league day was set up. At first it was simply an event on Facebook and on Twitter, which encouraged fans of the Premier League and Championship to go and watch a non-league game.

Three years later and the event have grown bigger and bigger attracting more people takes note of non-league football and come out to celebrate the game. The Non-league scene spoke to founder James Doe to find out more about the non-league day which takes place on the 7th September this year.

A lot of people may have heard of non-league day but are unfamiliar with what the day is all about.

So Doe explained what the day is all about: “NLD is primarily an event which celebrates semi-pro and grassroots football. It is a day when non-league clubs can showcase themselves to their local communities and demonstrate what they’re about and what they offer.

“It is now in its fourth year and is always scheduled to coincide with an international break meaning there is no Premier League or Championship football for it to compete with. This means there is more room for it in media schedules and also offers fans of the biggest clubs the opportunity to explore clubs who play at a level they might be unfamiliar with and who could be on their doorstep.”

Harriers fans at Stockport on Non-league day last season.

Harriers fans at Stockport on Non-league day last season.


But we where did the original idea for the event come for. Well in fact as Doe explains it came from watching a pre-season friendly involving his club QPR: “I set up the event in 2010 after going to watch QPR in a pre-season game at Tavistock in Devon.
“It was obvious how important the funds generated by the game were to the club and I thought why does this sort of thing only have to happen in pre-season? There are several weekends a year when Premier League and Championship clubs don’t play, meaning there are hundreds of thousands of fans left without a game so I tried to come up with a way of trying to get them to go and watch another game.

“Originally I only had six weeks from coming up with the idea to the first event. Initially it was only intended as a low key social media experiment among friends but it quickly grew as more people found out about it and as a result we have Non-League Day.”

As earlier mentioned non-league day takes place on a day when there are no premier league and championship fixture, so how does Doe and the rest of the team at Non-league Day HQ pick the date for Non-league day?
“This is quite simple – it has to fall on an international weekend where England are playing on the Friday night. This means that there is no Premier League or Championship football on the Saturday and focus will have largely moved away from the national side too.

“Aside from this, we’ve also received feedback from clubs that they don’t like NLD to clash with a round of the FA Cup as it limits their ability to offer discounts on admission. Unfortunately, the FA always seem to schedule at least one of their other competitions on international weekends (usually the FA Vase) so we do clash with them but admission to these early round matches is often £5 or less so they’re cheap anyway.

Fans at Hendon v Lewes  photo by James Boyes

Fans at Hendon v Lewes
photo by James Boyes


To attract fans many clubs put on events and offers to attract fans to the game. Some of the these include half price admission for season ticket holders of the big clubs or Pay what you want where you chose how much you paid to get in and watch the game, which is something Doe and the team want to push as it will boost the crowd and even if the gate receipts are down, the people that do come tend to spend money in other ways (programmes, refreshments, raffles etc) so takings do go up overall.

Clubs often turn it into Community days such as coaching sessions; supporters matches Barbecues, charity events and special guest appearing last year Olympians and Paralympians were quite popular. The options are endless but family oriented fun should be the theme according to Doe.

The day in its main is to try and attract Premier League and Championship fans down to a non-league game and sometimes it is important for Football League and Premier League clubs to encourage fans to do things and for non-league day they did it in abundance.

“The main thing we need for NLD to succeed is publicity. Last year we received unprecedented backing from the Premier League itself and some of its member clubs plus many Football League clubs (even ones which were playing) too. Articles and mentions on websites, social media and in match day programmes are highly beneficial and we got several from some of the biggest clubs in the land last year.
“Arsenal even went as far as lending their first team’s luxury coach to Boreham Wood to transport them to their game at Salisbury.

“Things like this make an enormous difference to non-league clubs, don’t really take a huge amount of effort on the part of the bigger clubs and earns them a great deal of positive publicity.”

Also Non-league day tries to raise money for charity and Doe explains all about it: “We’re sticking with the Free Kicks Foundation again. The charity partner concept is one that hasn’t gone as smoothly as we’d like.

“We initially went with a very large and well known charity and potentially thought we could raise thousands for them. However, I don’t think they saw the full value of the event and didn’t appear to reciprocate the effort; consequently it was a bit of a flop.

“Free Kicks are a much smaller charity who look to raise funds to provide football themed activities for ill, bereaved or disadvantaged children. Primarily it’s about raising awareness of what they do and hopefully we’ve achieved that, with a few pounds heading their way too.”

Free kick foundation logo

Free kick foundation logo


But all in all what will make it a successful day for Doe: “A lot has been made of getting the big clubs and the media to buy into NLD and of course their role is essential, but to make the whole thing really worthwhile the non-league clubs themselves must want to get involved.

“Despite the growth of NLD over the last three years, there are still some clubs that don’t know or care about the event. Therefore we can do all we can to raise the profile of the day and get people to head to their local grounds but if they get there and nothing particularly special is going on then it’s a bit of a waste of time for everyone.

“Of course clubs must make up their own minds about what to do and we’re in absolutely no position to dictate to them but it will be a shame if they miss out. The only reason we keep coming back every year is because of the success stories and there’s no reason why there can’t be a lot more.”

On non-league day there are many things like Ground hops, changing kick offs times so people can go from one game to another. But Doe explains that Non-league day is a not for profit organization and that while they help and advise clubs in what to do it is up to the clubs themselves.

Also he asks that people download the logo (as seen at the top of this post) and share it with your friends and onto any websites. Also posters are due to go up on the website so if they can be displayed in Windows and on noticeboard then that would be great.

A look at Scarborough Athletic.

The first half of the year 2013 has been an amazing year for the Seadogs of Scarborough Athletic. They managed to achieve promotion from North East Counties league into the Northern Premier League. Before the FA chose to place them into the First Division South. The Non-league scene caught up with Scarborough Athletic fan Jonathan Wood (a supporter of Scarborough for over 20 years) to discuss about the Seadogs.

Scarborough Athletic celebrating promotion to the Northern Premier League

Scarborough Athletic celebrating promotion to the Northern Premier League

First of all I wanted to know how Jonathan felt about the Seadogs gaining promoted from the NECL league: “It feels great! The Northern Counties East League was all good fun, but, with only 1 promotion spot available we were in danger of becoming stuck there, but, Rudy Funk pulled out all the stops and we got promoted, losing only 3 league games, although with 3 teams getting 95 or more points it was certainly a nail biter! The euphoria when we beat Retford (2-0) and Brighouse blew their 3-0 lead at Barton was amazing.”

Scarborough achieved a point’s total of 99 points which put them in the Northern Premier Division (also known as the Evo-stik Northern Premier League) and many people expected the Seadogs to be placed in First Division North. But, on the 17th May the Football Association chose to place Scarborough in the first Division South much to the disgust of the Seadog faithful.

Jonathan’s reaction to this news was: “At first I was extremely upset by it all. The North section has some familiar names that the old Boro played in the not too distant past such as Farsley, Lancaster, Burscough and Ossett Albion. There was also the added incentive of playing the new Darlington club, along with some nice scenic trips across the Pennines to the likes of Padiham and Kendal to look forward to.”

“Without meaning any disrespect, many of the South teams didn’t seem so appealing. But I’ve slowly come round to it, and there will be some interesting new grounds to visit, and the biggest plus is that our manager knows the area really well so he will hopefully know the strengths and weaknesses of many of the teams, as well as being able to sign some decent players from the area. If we are still at this level in a few years we might of course get moved back North, especially if we are playing in Scarborough by then.”

Some experts in the non-league game say that the Northern Premier First Division South is easier then the North section so how does Jonathan think Scarborough get on next season in the South?

“Hopefully we’ll do well. Some of our fans have claimed the South division is “easier” than the North but I’m not really buying that – both divisions will likely be of a similar quality. The fact there are play-offs reduce the pressure to finish top, and that might help us. We’ve kept the majority of the title winning squad, and some recent quality sounding additions have recently been announced so I’m hopeful that as long as the fans continue their excellent backing we should be right up there challenging for a play-off or automatic spot.”

Some of these new signings that Jonathan talks about included North Ferriby United quadruple- Gary Bradshaw, Paul Foot, Chris Bolder and Steve Ridley. All four help guide the Villagers to the Evo-stik Premier Division title. So with their experience and the success last season they can surely lead the Seadogs to a second successive promotion.

Scarborough Athletic were formed in 2007 because the old club Scarborough fc were wound up by the high court. But what were the memories that Jonathan had of the old club?

“Obviously I had really fond memories of the old club. My interest in the club was a bit of a slow-burner, firstly only getting their results from Grandstand and the local paper, then listening on the radio, before attending my first game in 1993, and gradually getting to more and more games until by the turn of the century I was pretty much a regular at home games. During the 00s I also started going to more away games. The highs were obviously the 1998 play-offs and the 2004 cup run, with the numerous relegations and financial problems being the biggest lows.”

The 2004 FA Cup run was a great one for Scarborough fans as it culminated in the visit of Chelsea FC in the 4th round. Which leaves more fond memories for Jonathan.

Scarborough fans with their famous theatre of chips banner.

Scarborough fans with their famous theatre of chips banner.

“It was all quite surreal. I remember walking through the town centre at about 9:30 in the morning, and loads of flags and other merchandise was already being sold. It was a really sunny day, although being January obviously not all that warm really! We got to the ground shortly after 11 probably and it soon filled up for the 12:30 kick off. When Lampard hit the post after a minute I was thinking we’d get battered, but apart from John Terry’s goal we more than held our own and by the end of the game, when we should have been given a penalty, the crowd were singing “We’re Proud of You” and “Premiership? You’re having a laugh”. The disappointing thing was we weren’t able to translate that cup form into league form, and finished a disappointing 15th! Probably partly due to the publicity he got from that cup run, the manager Russell Slade left at the end of that season for bigger things, and has managed the likes of Grimsby and Leyton Orient.”

It is a feat that Jonathan believes could happen again but it will need a change in luck of fortune as since that day the FA Cup gods haven’t smiled on Scarborough that well as he reckons they have won 5 of the next 9 FA cup ties they have played in.

But just three years later and Scarborough were fighting for their lives in the Conference North after being relegated to the Northern Premier League they then loss their manager Mark Patterson before the FA had advise them that club would be able to survive after 12th June. They were given an 8-day stay of execution but on the 20th June at a high Court in Leeds. They were wound up a distressing time as Jonathan recalls: “It was a very traumatic time for all of us, even though we sort of knew it was coming. For me the worst thing about it was that we didn’t know for certain that our last game of that season would turn out to be our last ever game, and so we never really gave the McCain Stadium a proper goodbye. The end came at a Leeds court on a Wednesday morning and even though we expected it, it was still a really numbing experience. Fortunately though, the Seadog Trust had put in place plans to form a new club should the worst happen, and only 5 days later we had the completely different emotions of starting up a brand new fan-owned club from scratch. The last 6 years have certainly had their ups and downs but on balance there have been far more ups so it has all been worth it!”

Scarborough Athletic were formed five days later and were forced to play at Bridlington Town’s QueensGate ground and the old McCain Stadium was knocked down in 2011 which was a sad sight for Scarborough fans to see.

The old McCain Stadium before got knocked down   (photo by JH Woods)

The old McCain Stadium before got knocked down
(photo by JH Woods)

“It was very sad, especially as you have to drive past that site en route to every away (and for that matter home!) Game but the consolation is you also drive past the site of the proposed new ground, and whilst that is still in the pipeline there is still the big hope for what the club really needs which is to be back playing in its home town.”

Scarborough is hoping to get back into playing in the town just around the corner from the McCain Stadium site. A coach park called Weaponness, which the council is hopefully going to turn into a Sports Village with not only a football Stadium. But, Tennis courts, Sports Centre and maybe a swimming pool. Which Jonathan expects it may be open midway through the 2014-2015 season. But we would have to wait and see.

Scarborough Athletic are a club striving to achieve things but where can we see the club in five years time? This is Jonathan’s prediction: “Very hard to say obviously but I would like to think we will be playing in Scarborough in the Weaponness Facility in the Conference North. I certainly hope so anyway.”