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Any person with a remote interest in football will realise that, by calling this a season preview, I am in fact telling a small lie, as the 2015/16 season started what seems like an age ago. A fact that may have slipped the minds of many of the aforementioned people, is that we, the students of Lancaster University, are blessed with a small but ambitious football club that goes by the name of Lancaster City FC.
They play their home games at the Giant Axe stadium near Lancaster train station and are hoping to make a serious push for promotion from the Evo-Stik First Division North, the seventh tier of English football. That’s all under the tutorage of former Newcastle United defender, Darren Peacock, and former QPR winger, Trevor Sinclair. Last season was one of two halves, with the Dolly Blues struggling early on, but rallying late in the campaign to finish in 11th place.
This new season, however, has started in solid fashion. At the time of writing; two wins, four draws, and a loss have been recorded, and gives something for the modest Lancaster faithful to be optimistic about. In addition to this strong start in the league, Lancaster have made it through to the second qualifying round of the FA Cup by beating Padiham FC of Burnley 2–0. Chants of “Que sera sera we’re going to Wembley” could be said to be slightly premature, but try telling that to the fans of the Dolly Blues. It took a replay to beat Marske United in the preliminary round, but their game against Padiham FC was fairly straight forward and keeps the dream of Wembley alive. By the time you read this, City will have played Droylsden in the next round. It’d take something miraculous for this squad of players to match the unforgettable cup run of 1973 when the Dolly Blues reached the second round proper. The hope is definitely there, but with four more rounds before the fabled second round, the dream looks unlikely to come true.
So with seven games played in the league and ten points on the board, Lancaster find themselves in 13th position with an extremely good chance of realising their ambition of promotion. It would be difficult to argue that the coaching staff aren’t good enough to achieve this. Although this is Darren Peacock’s first managerial role, the experience of playing under top managers such as Harry Redknapp (West Ham United), Roy Hodgson (Blackburn Rovers), and both Kenny Dalglish and Kevin Keegan (Newcastle United) will certainly have boosted his chances of success in Lancaster. As a bonus, Trevor Sinclair has also played under some unbelievably talented managers. Kevin Keegan, Stuart Pearce (both Manchester City), and Harry Redknapp (West Ham United) are to name but three. And to put the icing on the cake, Sinclair is a registered player for City and will be guaranteed to show off his footballing skills should Lancaster require them throughout the season.
Sinclair is hoping that he won’t be needed though, and he is certainly optimistic about the new season saying that “the young lads are a year older, the belief is there, and they know what it’s like to play against men”.
The young assistant manager felt that, towards the end of last season his side “passed teams off the pitch at times”, going on to say that “if we’d gone on a run a little sooner we could have got a play-off place”.
The former England winger believes that the hard work the players put in last season made them “not just difficult to beat, but difficult to score against”, in the latter stages of the campaign, and he’s hoping that that form can be continued into this new season.
I’m not so sure that they’ve managed to perfect the art of defending just yet, shipping 11 goals in just 7 games. But they have certainly proved that they are difficult to beat with only one loss so far this season. Yet Lancaster appear to lack that quality in front of goal that would ensure that they go on to win games instead of merely drawing.
With teams such as Northwich Victoria, Glossop North End and Spennymoor Town still yet to lose in the league, it would be extremely difficult for City to gain automatic promotion. But it’s definitely feasible for Darren Peacock’s men to aim for a play-off spot and win promotion that way. If I were to make a prediction, I would say that Lancaster City will finish just outside the play-offs places. Yet they may just make it to the first round proper of the FA Cup. This would be a successful season for the young side and would give Peacock and Sinclair hope for the seasons to come.
What we can be absolutely sure about is that it’s going to be a difficult but exciting season for Lancaster City FC, and at just a fiver for a match day ticket there’s no excuse for any football fan not to go to at least one game this season to cheer on the Dolly Blues.
All information correct up to September 20th.