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I’ll make no secret of it; you’ve probably never heard of Lancaster City FC. Sure, if pressed to name Lancaster’s biggest football club, you’d probably wage a guess at ‘Lancaster City’ or some variant of this moniker. But the odds of you knowing anything more is slim.
Nicknamed the Dolly Blues, the team play at the wonderfully named Giant Axe, a mere five minute walk from the train station. They play in the Northern Premier League, aka the eighth tier of English football, or the Evo-Stik League Division One North. I’ll admit, it’s a bit of a mouthful, and doesn’t sound glamourous, but it’s all we’ve got.
Morecambe and Preston are only short journeys away but, well, it’s Morecambe and Preston. Lancaster City is your new favourite team. Some of you well engaged in the football scene may actually be aware that the Dolly Blues had famous (sort of) management a year or two ago.
Former Premier League stalwarts Darren Peacock and Trevor Sinclair took the helm from 2013 to late 2015, and although it gave Lancaster a little more spotlight, it ultimately didn’t transfer well onto the pitch. Poor results led to the duo leaving, though Lancaster managed to recover to a respectable 6th come May 2016.
This momentum has been carried over into 2016/17, and the Dolly Blues currently sit 5th in the league. Only Droylsden and 3rd place Bamber Bridge have beat Lancaster, but the club recovered and are currently unbeaten since coming home from the bridge empty-handed in late August.
September actually saw Lancaster win all six of their games, Trafford being the victims of the most ruthless display, being crushed 4-1 at their own backyard.
Whilst the league form is impressive, all eyes shifted to the FA Cup. Being a non-league side comes with the unenviable chore of traipsing through a number of qualifying rounds. Before the glory of televised rounds comes a few qualifying and preliminary rounds; of which Lancaster had to fight through.
Despite star striker Jordan Connerton running riot against numerous teams, professional side Kidderminster Harriers were too much. West Auckland Town were sank courtesy of a Connerton hat-trick, in addition to Louis Mayers and Adam Robinson finishes, whilst league leaders Brighouse fell 3-0.
Darlington – two leagues above Lancaster – seemed hard on paper, but a cupset was on the cards as Lancaster were on form. Although Darlington piled on the pressure, Lancaster held on to win 2-1 courtesy of Jacob Gregory and Connerton again. That said, terrific saves from Mike Hale ensured only one goal was conceded.
Kidderminster were the toughest task, and the gulf between leagues unfortunately showed in the second half as the Harriers progressed 3-2. That said, Connerton got yet another goal, and Billy Akrigg needs to take a bow after his phenomenal 35-yard rocket on the stroke of half-time. Cue celebrations that made me look like I was born a Lancaster fan.
Connerton has been a key player in the Dolly Blues’ recent scintillating form. On Saturday he scored an injury-time brace to fight back at promotion rivals Farsley Celtic. In a high-intensity match, Lancaster only found themselves ahead in the last minute of the match. But it was the most important time, as the visitors ran out 4-2 winners.
With a congested fixture list common in the non-league, Lancaster were playing only three days later, and comfortable win at home to Preston Cables. It’s six wins on the trot for the Dolly Blues, and your new favourite team is currently 3rd in the league.
The Kidderminster game in particular was proof that non-league action is definitely worth checking out. After all it’s only a couple of quid for students, and there are definitely worse ways to cure a Sugar hangover.