Morecambe acquit themselves well in their first Football League season

With Morecambe having celebrated their centenary this year, we have told the story of the club’s origins, the move to Christie Park, league and cup wins, FA Trophy success and promotion into the Football League.

Tuesday, 1st September 2020, 3:00 pm
Christie Park hosted Morecambe's first game as a Football League club in August 2007

This week’s final chapter sees club historian LAWRENCE BLAND offer up his memories of the 2007/08 season when the Shrimps first tasted Football League action...

The 2007/08 season was our first in the Football League – and we must be one of the few clubs who have never been relegated.

It had been a steady climb upwards through the Lancashire Combination, Northern Premier League and Conference before reaching the Football League.

For good measure, the club has never finished a season in bottom place, and although re-election was sought twice, it was comfortably achieved.

The big day arrived on August 11 with Barnet the first opponents at Christie Park, where kick-off was delayed to get the crowd of 3,633 into the ground to watch a 0-0 draw.

Morecambe’s side that day was: Lewis, Yates, Artell, Bentley, Stanley, Twiss (Newby), Hunter (Thompson), Curtis, Baker (Burns), Sorvel and Adams. Unused subs: Drench and Howard.

Jon Newby scored our first goal at Wrexham on August 18 and, seven days later, the first win arrived with a 3-1 defeat of Mansfield Town.

Newby was also responsible for the club’s first league hat-trick, coming against Rotherham United on March 29.

There were two great cup runs with the Carling Cup bringing three away ties against Championship sides.

A 2-1 win at Preston North End, was followed by an amazing 3-1 extra-time victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers but it couldn’t last with a 5-0 loss at Sheffield United.

The Johnstone’s Paint Trophy saw Sammy McIlroy name weakened teams in the first three rounds, all against League One sides, but the squad members refused to throw in the towel and produced some entertaining performances.

Round one brought a 1-0 win at Tranmere Rovers, next up saw the Shrimps trail 2-0 at home to Port Vale before winning on penalties, before round three saw another victory on spot-kicks, this time at Hartlepool after trailing 1-0.

A 2-0 home win over Bury in the Northern semi-final offered hope of a return to Wembley with Grimsby Town to come in the regional final.

Morecambe should have taken a big lead to Blundell Park for the second leg but lost the first leg 1-0 at home after dominating and were unable to break down the Mariners second time around.

There were some good games in the league, the best probably the 3-2 win over Peterborough United at Christie Park after being 2-1 behind and down to 10 men.

There were also wins at Hereford United (3-0) and Stockport County (2-0) but the form was up and down all season.

Midway through the season, the Shrimps were just outside the play-offs in eighth place before eventually finishing the season in 11th.

Signings that season included Damien Allen (Stockport County), Dave Artell (Chester City), Carl Baker (Southport), Matthew Blinkhorn (Blackpool), Simon Grand (Grimsby Town) and Jon Newby (Southport), while the January window brought Stewart Drummond (Shrewsbury Town) and Henry McStay (Royal Antwerp).

Three goalkeepers came on loan; Joe Lewis (Norwich City), Scott Loach (Watford) and Shwan Jalal (Peterborough United).

Lewis impressed, eventually moving to Peterborough United for £400,000 as well as being capped for England’s U21s and sitting on the bench for two of the senior team’s end-of-season friendlies.

Danny Adams was player of the year but, at the end of the season, the club lost Shrimps legend Garry Thompson, who joined Scunthorpe United.

Carl Baker moved to Stockport County for a record fee, while Allen, Sorvel (Droylsden), Jamie Burns, Steven Drench (Southport), Simon Grand (Northwich Victoria) and Newby (Morton) were released.

After years of dominating the Lancashire League, the reserve team was allowed to join the Pontin’s League West.

They finished as champions and completed the double by winning the Pontin’s League Cup, beating West Bromwich Albion in the final at Christie Park on April 21, 4-2 on penalties following a 1-1 draw.