Stan is City’s man: Dolly Blues player-coach Craig Stanley is looking forward to making his mark both on and off the pitch

Craig Stanley
Craig Stanley

Former Shrimp Craig Stanley is hopeful the supporters of his new club Lancaster City will not hold too much of a grudge against him next season.

The 35-year-old signed on the dotted line for the Dolly Blues earlier this month after being persuaded by manager Phil Brown to make the switch from fellow NPL Premier Division outfit Barwell.

Stanley is no stranger to these parts – he spent a successful five-year stint with City’s neighbours Morecambe between 2006 and 2011.

He played at Wembley as Morecambe defeated Exeter City 2-1 in the Conference play-off final in 2007 and then went on help the club establish itself in the Football League.

Although admitting that he will always look back with fondness at his time with the Shrimps, Stanley is looking forward to the future as a Dolly Blue.

“Some fans might not be too happy about me coming to Lancaster especially with my links to Morecambe,” said Stanley with a wry smile.

“I won’t forget what we achieved at Morecambe, but I am looking forward to playing for Lancaster.

“I have been speaking to the manager for a while and I’m looking forward to having a good season, if selected of course.

“Last season I played every game for Barwell and I managed to win a couple of awards at the end of the season off the players and the supporters.

“I might be 35 but I still feel there is plenty of good football left in the old dog yet, as they say.

“I still feel I have got a lot to offer on the pitch.

“It was the club’s first season in the Premier Division last season after winning promotion and the plan is to improve upon that.

“Phil has already made some good signings – people like Matt Blinkhorn, who I know well from my days at Morecambe, he will score goals at that level.

“We have signed Rob Wilson, who I also know from my time at Morecambe and obviously playing against him when he was at Workington last season. He is a good player.

“The rest of the squad, I don’t know too well, but obviously Phil has tried to keep hold of the best players from last season.

“Hopefully, we can push on into the top half of the table and try to make the play-offs if we can.”

Although Stanley is hopeful of playing a major role on the park, he is also planning on having input on the training pitch.

One of the attractions of moving to City was that Stanley will become part of Brown’s coaching set-up.

“One of the big things for me is to obviously try to progress as a coach in men’s football,” said Stanley.

“My playing career is not over but I am at the next stage now where I want to move into coaching.

“I have been coaching at the academies at Coventry City, Notts County and Lincoln City, but I want to get into men’s football because it is completely different.

“I need to learn my trade and this is the perfect opportunity.

“Eventually, I would love to be a manager but I have still got a long way to go before that materialises. But I am looking forward to getting involved on the coaching side of things at Lancaster and learning off Phil.”