Lancaster City F.C.
|Full name||Lancaster City Football Club|
|Nickname(s)||The Dolly Blues, Dollies, The Blues, City, The Town.|
|Founded||Present Club Formed 1911 as Lancaster Town F.C.|
|Ground||Giant Axe, Lancaster|
|Capacity||3,500 (513 seated)|
|League||Northern Premier League Premier Division|
|2017–18||Northern Premier League Premier Division, 18th of 24|
Lancaster City Football Club is an English football club based in Lancaster, Lancashire. The club are currently members of the Northern Premier League Premier Division, play at Giant Axe and are full members of the Lancashire County Football Association.
Background and History
Two Lancaster based teams, Skerton F.C. (1897–1900) and Lancaster Athletic F.C. (1905-11) had competed in the Lancashire Combination but Skerton dropped out of the league without completing their final season (1899-1900) while Lancaster Athletic played their final season (1910–11) in the West Lancashire Football League, again with the club being unable to complete its fixtures. The present club was then founded in the spring of 1911 as Lancaster Town F.C.  and were admitted to Division Two of the Lancashire Combination for the start of the 1911–12 season after proving to the league and the Lancashire FA that they had no connection with the previous two clubs. 
After World War I the Combination was reduced to a single division. The club finished as runners-up in 1919–20, and the following season the club applied to join the new Third Division North of the Football League, but were unsuccessful. However, they won the Combination for the first time in 1921–22. In 1928–29 the club reached the first round of the FA Cup for the first time, but lost 3–1 at home to Lincoln City. The following year they won the Combination for a second time and reached the FA Cup first round again, losing 4–1 at New Brighton. The first round was reached again in 1930–31, 1931–32 and 1933–34, but the club lost on each occasion. Back-to-back league titles were won in 1934–35 and 1935–36, and in 1937 the club adopted its current name, Lancaster City F.C., after the town was given city status as part of King George VI's coronation celebrations.
The club continued in the Combination until 1970 with varying degrees of success that included an FA Cup second round appearance, losing to Gateshead, in 1947-48 and a Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy final victory in 1951-52, but by the end of the 1960s it was decided that a change was needed so for the 1970–71 season the club left the Combination to join the Northern Premier League, a league that had been established two years earlier. City reached the second round of the FA Cup in 1972-73, losing 2-1 at Notts County and again won the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy in 1974-75 but after finishing seventeenth in 1981–82 the club resigned from the Northern Premier League and dropped into the North West Counties League when financial difficulties forced them to fold and reform. Three years later they were relegated to the second tier after finishing second from bottom of the league. However, despite only finishing thirteenth in 1986-87, the club were accepted into the newly formed Division One of the Northern Premier League thanks to in no small part to ground standard and support.
In 1994-95, after several seasons of consolidation and now under the stewardship of former Preston North End and Bury player Alan Tinsley, Lancaster won the Northern Premier League Presidents Cup, their first trophy in twenty years, and the following season, as champions of Division One, were promoted to the Premier Division. After finishing eighth in 2003–04, under Tony Hesketh, the club were placed in the newly established Conference North. This proved to be a hugely successful period for Lancaster with the club enjoying healthy league positions, several cup successes as well as reaching the FA Cup first round proper on four occasions. However, following a club takeover, financial problems led to the club folding at the end of the 2006–07 season, in which they suffered a 10-point deduction for going into administration, and finished bottom of the league with one point. During the summer, the club reformed and were accepted back into Division One of the Northern Premier League.
The 2008–09 season was the last one for ex-player and fans favourite Barrie Stimpson. He was replaced by Tony Hesketh, towards the end of the season, returning for a second spell. Lancaster lost the 2009–10 play-off final 1–0 at home to Colwyn Bay but unfortunately, the pair couldn't guide the club to a much desired promotion, finishing 7th in 2010–11 and 6th in 2011–12. Hesketh was relieved of his duties early into the 2012–13 season. Former Sunderland, Darlington and Morecambe player Neil Wainwright and former player Michael Stringfellow were eventually appointed as joint managers. Both Wainwright and Stringfellow left in February 2013 due to budget cuts, again leaving the club without a first team manager. On 21 April 2013 Lancaster City finally appointed former Newcastle United, Blackburn Rovers and Queens Park Rangers defender Darren Peacock as their new manager. The Dolly Blues then appointed Peacock's former teammate and ex Blackpool, Queens Park Rangers, West Ham United, Manchester City and England winger Trevor Sinclair as Peacock's assistant for the start of the 2014–15 season. Both Peacock and Sinclair left the club at the end of September 2015 after a disappointing start to the season being replaced by former player and assistant manager Phil Brown. Brown then led the team to a top six finish and also to the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy final when they lost on penalties to Chorley. In his first full season as manager Brown led the team to the 2016–17 Northern Premier League Division One league title. However after a bright start to the 2017-18 season the team slipped down the table finishing in eighteenth place and after a torrid start to the 2018-19 season, where the club lost five of its first six games, Brown resigned as first team manager after three years at the helm and with City out of the FA Cup and rooted to the bottom of the league table. Former Nelson and Ramsbottom United manager Mark Fell was appointed as his replacement in October 2018.
The club play at Giant Axe, located in a picturesque setting close to Lancaster railway station, from where the ground can be seen and reached with only a two-minute walk. Lancaster Castle and Lancaster Priory Church can also be seen from the ground while the River Lune is also nearby. Giant Axe is also only a five-minute walk from Lancaster City centre. It has been their home ground since the formation of the present club in 1911, although the first club to bear the name Lancaster also played there. Giant Axe was given its name as it was the centrepiece of a sports club, the exterior wall of which was, when viewed from above, the same shape as an axe head. In those early years tennis and cricket was also played at the ground, with the club also boasting a bowling green, and the football pitch was at the centre of a huge circle of grass called 'the sixpence', which also featured four cricket pitches. The ground has seen several changes since those early days and was renovated in the 1970s when the original main grandstand and then the original social club were both destroyed by fire and a new main stand was built. A new social club named The Dolly Blue Tavern was built when the ground was again modernised in the 1990s with the new West Road terrace also being built and new modern plastic seating installed in the main stand.
The Giant Axe layout consists of the 513-seat Main Stand, named the John Bagguley Stand after the club's late president. There are three turnstiles located in the south west, south east and north west corners of the ground. Alongside the north corner of main stand are the players and officials changing facilities, a supporters' bar and social club named Netbusters, directors lounge, toilets and The Dolly's Diner refreshments bar. A burger van is situated at the south corner of the main stand. The open West Road Terrace is situated behind one goal and a covered terracing called The Shed, now renamed The Neil Marshall Stand in memory of City's legendary and popular long-serving captain, at the other. Opposite the Main Stand is the Long Side, an open terrace that also plays host to a second supporters bar, a raised sponsors hospitality lounge and the dugouts. The club offices are now placed in the club car park behind the West Road Terrace. There is a small club shop located by the south west turnstile but the club now provide an online club shop facility, although a limited amount of merchandise can still be purchased directly from the club.
Lancaster City's social club The Dolly Blue Tavern, built and opened in 1995, was located outside the ground, adjacent to the car park, but within the club entrance, and played host to the club offices. However, the social club closed in August 2012 and has since been redeveloped into sheltered accommodation.
In the 1990s and early 2000s Lancaster enjoyed a lengthy sponsorship deal with sportswear giants Reebok. However, after financial difficulties had led to relegation and reformation in 2008, the club adopted a K Club Sponsorship arrangement with several local businesses entering an annual draw with the winner becoming first team shirt sponsor. This carried on successfully for nearly ten years until they won promotion in 2016-17 and Lancaster teamed up with local media group and radio station Heart North Lancashire and Cumbria signing a three-year shirt sponsorship deal for the start of the 2017-18 season.
Lancaster City's official nickname of The Dolly Blues is taken from the dolly blue washing tablets and bags that were manufactured in the early 20th century, the club's team colours being the same colour as the tablets. This is now more often than not abbreviated to The Dollies. Other nicknames adopted by the club are The Blues, City and also (the) Town. Town comes from Lancaster's early name of Lancaster Town.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Reserves, Ladies and Youth teams
Lancaster City also have several other teams starting with Lancaster City Reserves who play in the Lancashire Football League, winning both the 2011–12 and 2012-13 titles in a league that includes several other non-league reserve teams from the North West of England. The club have also had links to Myerscough College. Lancaster City Juniors FC teams ranging from under 7s to under 17s play in the Lune and District Junior Football League and the Lancaster and Morecambe Service to Youth League. Lancaster City have in the past had a ladies team that played in the Lancashire FA Women's County League but they folded at the end of the 2015-16 season.
Coaching and Medical Staff
- 1st XI Manager: Mark Fell
- 1st XI Assistant Manager: Graham Lancashire
- 1st XI Coach: Craig Stanley
- Goalkeeping Coach: Mark Thornley
- Sports Therapist: Neil Coomber
- Kit Manager: Michael McGahon
- Reserves Manager: Andy Collins
- Reserves Assistant Manager: Shane Hudson
- Northern Premier League Division One North
- Winners (1): 2016–17
- Northern Premier League Division One
- Winners (1): 1995–96
- Northern Premier League Challenge Cup
- Northern Premier League President's Cup
- Northern Premier League Division One League Challenge Cup
- Winners (1): 1995–96
- Lancashire Combination
- Winners (4): 1921–22, 1929–30, 1934–35, 1935–36
- Lancashire Combination Cup
- Winners (1): 1921–22
- Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy
- Winners (6): 1927–28, 1928–29, 1930–31, 1934–35, 1951–52, 1974–75
- Record attendance: 7,506 v Carlisle United, FA Cup fourth qualifying round, 17 November 1927
- Record win: 17–2 vs Appleby, FA Cup, 1915.
- Record defeat: 0–10 vs Matlock Town, Northern Premier League, 1974.
- Most career appearances: Edgar J. Parkinson 531, 1949–1964.
- Most career goals: Dave Barnes, 143, 1979–84, 1987–91.
- Most goals in a season (league & cup): Rob Thomas 48, 1974-75, Dave Barnes 48, 1983-84.
- Record transfer fee paid: £6,000 to Droylsden for Jamie Tandy, July 2006.
- Record transfer fee received: £50,000 (including add-ons) from NAC Breda for Peter Thomson, 1999.
- FA Cup run
- FA Trophy run
- Fourth Round 2004–05
- FA Vase run
- Second Round 1986–87, 1990–91
Lancaster City's main and oldest rivals have always been near neighbours Morecambe however Morecambe's progression through the leagues has meant that very few games have been played between them since the early 1980s. Despite this the rivalry still continues to be strong whenever the two clubs do meet. Similarly, rivalries with Accrington Stanley and Fleetwood Town are also on hold due to these clubs also progressing to the football league. As such, over the years, Lancaster has struck up rivalries with other clubs in the region with Bamber Bridge, Kendal Town, Clitheroe, Barrow, AFC Fylde, Southport and Chorley all providing extra interest wherever the two clubs meet.
Attendances and Support
Lancaster City's average crowd had declined over the years with the 2012–13 average gate of 171 being its lowest for nearly 30 years. During the 1930s it has been reported that crowds regularly reached 3,000 and by the 1950s gates of 4,500 have been recorded. In fact during the 1960s Lancaster were still attracting around 1,500 for home games. However, during the 1970s and 1980s gates dropped to a modest 250. However, from the mid 1990s through to the mid-2000s, due to success on the field, the average gate gradually rose to a steady 300–400, however after the club was demoted two leagues in 2007 it has again declined. There have though been games when the crowds soared once again at Giant Axe. None more so than when neighbours Morecambe visited and for the various cup matches played in recent years with crowds getting as high as 2,500 for the FA Cup 4th qualifying round tie in 1996. Gates were also up more recently when City entertained such well supported clubs such as Chester, Halifax Town, Darlington FC and United of Manchester with gates pushing upwards of four figures and therefore keeping the average gate at around 250. The FC United of Manchester game alone in fact attracted a gate of over 2,200 in 2007. Lancaster's travelling support has been considered to be amongst the most passionate in non league football with the club regularly taking a healthy following on away trips. Indeed, for the title decider at Glossop North End in 2017 around 500 City fans made the trip to see Lancaster win the league.
- 2017-18 : 258
- 2016-17 : 255
- 2015–16 : 219
- 2014–15 : 236
- 2013–14 : 232
- 2012–13 : 171
- 2011–12 : 232
- 2010–11 : 218
- 2009–10 : 240
- 2008–09 : 225
- 2007–08 : 318
- 2006–07 : 253
- 2005–06 : 319
- 2004–05 : 316
- 2003-04 : 334
Source: English football site
- Permanent managers listed in order from 1966–67:
|Keith Brindle||1992||Nov 1992|
|Alan Tinsley||Nov 1992||Nov 1996|
|Gordon Raynor||Dec 1996||Jan 1998|
|Alan Tinsley||Jan 1998||March 1999|
|Tony Hesketh||April 1999||May 2003|
|Phil Wilson||May 2003||Dec 2005|
|Peter Ward||Dec 2005||May 2006|
|Gary Finley||July 2006||Oct 2006|
|Barrie Stimpson||Nov 2006||April 2009|
|Tony Hesketh||April 2009||Sept 2012|
|Neil Wainwright & Michael Stringfellow||Oct 2012||Feb 2013|
|Darren Peacock||April 2013||Sept 2015|
|Phil Brown||Sept 2015||Sept 2018|
|Mark Fell||Oct 2018|
- "Information – Lancaster City FC Official Website". www.lancastercityfc.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-07-24.
- Lancaster Town at the Football Club History Database
- Rupert Metcalf (1996-12-20). "Football:Harriers set to pull the crowds". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2010-02-10.
- "Ward and Finley take over at Lancaster". NonLeagueDaily. 2005-12-23. Archived from the original on 27 September 2012. Retrieved 2010-02-10.
- "Gary's promoted". Doncaster Rovers F.C. 2006-07-24. Retrieved 2010-02-09.