Shrimps’ co-chairman hails new training setup

Jim Bentley.
Jim Bentley.

Morecambe co-chairman Rod Taylor has added his voice to those who believe a new training set-up played a key part in the club’s form towards the end of last season.

Management and playing staff have previously hailed the club’s move to Lancaster University as a training base earlier this year.

The Shrimps’ problems in trying to find a regular location have been well documented, especially when bad weather has struck and favours have had to be asked of other clubs.

However, they have been able to arrange the use of the university’s grass pitches and other facilities which, Taylor believes, has had a positive impact.

“A big change was that they used the Globe Arena as their base day in day out and matchdays weren’t special,” he said.

“When we went to the uni, that became the base and then the matchday felt different which is how it should be.

“If you go into your office every day, that quickly becomes the norm and there’s nothing special about it.

“Instead, they weren’t coming here every day and, on a matchday, they were coming in ‘suited and booted’ which just lifts it a little bit.

“It’s all to do with getting it away from it being a bit mundane every day to it feeling a bit special because it’s a matchday; that’s got a value.”

Winning games of football also helps with Bentley’s players doing their bit on the pitch in the final third of the season.

Seven wins and four draws in their final 15 matches lifted the Shrimps up to 18th place in League Two, comfortably clear of the strugglers.

The highlight, arguably, was Easter Monday’s 4-0 win against Cheltenham Town at the Globe Arena in front of more than 3,000 fans.

Admittedly, a decent proportion of those were taking advantage of a cut-price ticket initiative but almost 2,000 home fans were back for the final home game of the season against Newport County AFC.

“With the football we played against Cheltenham, you could tell the players were inspired by the crowd noise,” Taylor said.

“It plays a massive part in both the players’ reaction and the performance on the pitch.

“It may be a cliche but the crowd really is the 12th man, there’s no doubt about it.”

If the Shrimps showed signs of progress on the field in the 2018/19 season, the same was also true off it.

The average league attendance at the Globe Arena topped more than 2,000 fans a game, as opposed to the season before which attracted fewer than 1,500 on average.

That increase came despite the Shrimps again finding it difficult to put together a run of home league wins.

Indeed, the late-season victories against Forest Green Rovers, MK Dons and Crawley Town gave Morecambe three consecutive league victories for the first time at the Globe Arena.

The aim now is twofold; build on that increased supporter base and make the Globe Arena a place that teams will dread visiting.

“The increased attendance, percentage-wise, was pleasing,” Taylor said.

“I think they were entertained because there was some good football played - and winning games is always nice.

“Christie Park was a fortress and this place (the Globe Arena) hasn’t been so we have to make sure that’s the case in future.”