Garstang FC
   
 
Club History

It is thought that Garstang Football Club formed in the late 1800s although the earliest documented records show that, in 1927, the club won the Guildhall Cup as a member of the Preston and District League.

In the mid sixities both the First and Reserve Teams moved from "The Beeches" to the club's current home of the "The Riverside", shown below. At the time of this move the club continued to be a proud member of the Preston and District League.

After much soul searching and debate during the summer of 1994 the club made the decision to advance and to step into the West Lancashire League. Garstang made steady progress in the early years and then, under the guidance of manager Keith Brindle, the first team reached the Lancashire Amateur Shield final for two years in succession. The first final during the 1998/99 season, saw the team suffer defeat at the hands of Fulwood. However the following year the club bounced back and secured the trophy with a victory over favourites Stand Athletic.

Also in the 1999/00 season, Garstang secured the President's Cup with a thrilling sudden death penalty shoot out victory and they also achieved promotion to the West Lancashire Premier Division as runners up.

The following season saw the first team finish a respectable eighth in the league, and the Reserve Team won the Reserve Division Two title and with it promotion.

Following the departure of Keith Brindle as manager, the first team suffered relegation back to the First Division.

The next silverware that the club achieved was in the 2002/03 season when the Reserves won the Houston Cup. Unfortunately their fortunes also suffered, and they returned to Reserve Division Two following relegation.

After a poor start to the 2005/06 season, the club appointed Gary Hargreaves as Manager along with Scott Somerside as his assistant. This duo stopped the first team's slide towards the relegation trap door and also steered them to the President's Cup final, which was lost on penalties. The following season saw the First Team achieve promotion back to the Premier Division as runners up. Chairman Adrian Wilding stepped down at the end of the season due to pressures of work, with Secretary Andy Harkins stepping in to the breach for what proved to be a remarkable season.

 

The 2007/08 season saw the Reserve Team secure the Reserve Division Two title under the guidance of Paul Bailey. The First Team were also involved in a thrilling title battle that went down to the last game of the season and in front of over 250 of their own fans, the team secured the three points needed to win the Premier Division title.

Season 2008/09: was almost a case of 'after the lord mayor's show' as Hargreaves and Somerside departed, citing the club's inability to take up the earned promotion to the North West Counties as the reason. In the pre-season, Adrian Wilding returned as Chairman of the Management Committee, bringing with him Les Taylor as Commercial Manager and Ian Blezard as Website Manager, intent on building the Community Club that Garstang deserved. Adrian's first task was the appointment of a new Manager, George Norrie, from Trimpell / Slyne FC.  Norrie came with the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' approach and simply picked up the reins and carried on. Unfortunately, despite some good early results, the chemistry was not right, and he left after a handful of games to coach at Lancaster City.

 

The Club began the search for a new manager and were very happy to find that Scott Somerside, the previous season's number two, was willing to return and take on the task. Scott achieved a very creditable performance, getting the team up and running again, eventually finishing the Premier Division in an excellent third place.

It was a difficult season in terms of playing staff, however, with four of the previous seasons regulars moving out, three of them to UniBond Clubs, and long term injuries restricting the appearances of several more. The manager did bring some fresh blood to the club, however, and with several Reserve Team players stepping up to make the grade, the season finished on a high with a string of feisty performances. At the end of the season, however, Scott Somerside surprisingly handed in his resignation as, due to work and family commitments, he could no longer devote the time necessary to manage a successful football club. The Club were very fortunate, however, to immediately secure the services of the former Lancaster City manager Barrie Stimpson, 'Stimmo', who joined Garstang FC on May 9th 2009, a high profile capture symbolising the Club's footballing ambitions.
The Reserve Team, managed by Paul Bailey, had another good season, despite frequently releasing players to support the First Team, finishing the Reserve Division One in sixth place, their highest ever placing.

Off the field, developments came thick and fast with the launch of this website, the recruitment of several new sponsors, the instigation of the Garstang 'Score' Lottery, and hosting a hugely successful Sportsman's Dinner at Blackpool FC, amongst some the more memorable achievements. These are all vital building blocks that will provide the foundations for the new Garstang FC, raising the profile of the Club as the committee, team management and players all work together to bring the highest standard of football possible to the Riverside ground.

First Team Squad - September 2009

2009/10: was an interesting season, characterised by a foul winter which wiped out much of the programme from mid November until well into January. Manager 'Stimmo' started his Garstang career gently, choosing to work with the existing squad of players as he got to know the foibles of the 'West Lancs' and quickly discovered that, whatever the abilities of his players, he was blessed with a tremendous team spirit that made them very difficult to beat and saw the club hit top spot in December. A successful run in the Lancashire Shield, losing a fabulous final 3-4 to Blackpool Wrens, may have shifted focus away from the league however, and a disappointing run in saw a tired squad slip to sixth place in the rush of 'catch up' games at the end of the season.

The Reserves too suffered in the 'player availability' department for key games but, despite the frustrations, Manager Paul Bailey achieved another 'best ever' league placing, pushing his squad into third place.

Off the field, Chairman Adrian Wilding pushed on with his vision of 'Garstang in the Community'. Under-pinned by an increasingly successful 'Score' Lottery, Garstang FC, lacking any junior football for many years, aligned itself with Cockerham Juniors thus providing their young players, aged from 6 to 16, with a route through to senior football at The Riverside. The defunct Garstang Juniors U16's side were also welcomed into the GFC family, the players and management forming the nucleus of the new Garstang FC Youth Team setup for season 2010/11. On March 23rd, Garstang Football Club became an FA Charter Standard Adult Club and, finally, the diggers moved on to The Riverside in the summer as the pitch was widened and lengthened to league standards - but more of that next season!

2010/11: opened in the 'funny old game' mode. Two games into the season, Manager Stimpson declared himself unable to commit the necessary time to managing the Club and resigned, leaving Assistant Player / Manager Geoff Wilson holding the reins until a successor could be found. The successor, Stuart Darley, was appointed on September 2nd with Garstang already looking good candidates for relegation.

It was always going to be difficult for Darley as the core of the playing squad had departed during the summer and, in his quest for league survival, he scoured the County to bring in any players who could 'do a job'. In the end, Darley succeeded in his mission on the field, but at the expense of Garstang's off-field community club ethos. He resigned at the end of the season; and we never did get a First Team regulars photo!
 

One of relatively few highlights; the hugely successful Sportsmans' Dinner

The First Team selection difficulties rippled through the senior players with the Reserves, too, having a poor season, and the newly formed Youth Team struggled to get to grips with life in the LEP Sunday Football League. All this was strange as, off the field, membership of the 'Score' Lottery passed the 600 mark and the Club used some of the proceeds to acquire floodlights and other ground furniture from the defunct Christy Park in Morecambe in readiness for a ground upgrade.

Garstang Youth Team debuts in the LEPSFL

 2011/12: early pre-season was dominated with the search for a new manager, culminating in the appointment of Richard Thomas, a coach/lecturer with Myerscough College, in a conscious decision to step off the 'managerial merry-go-round' and hire a young man professionally equipped to build not only a team, but a club football infrastructure.........

 

Things weren’t going too well when former Morecambe and Lancaster City Midfielder/Defender Michael Stringfellow took over from Richard Thomas in November, as Player Manager.Despite bringing in some good players points were hard to come by resulting in relegation at the end of the 2011-12 season, after a stay of eight seasons in the top flight.

Garstang F.C. was to receive a further shock when within two weeks Stringfellow had resigned to take up a similar position back at Lancaster City. However, it wasn’t all bad news when Iain Swan who had been brought in as Stringfellow’s number two indicated that he would like to be considered for the job.

“Swany” a former full time professional with Oldham Athletic and Morecambe was promptly appointed and what a good decision that proved to be. 

2012/13:

The season had hardly got under way before the Club suffered an unprecedented tragedy when one of the most popular players ever to pull on a Garstang F.C. shirt, Adam Swanwick passed away on the 2nd September 2012 following a massive heart attack at the age of 28. Adam’s death had a devastating affect not only on his precious family, his fiancée Louise but everyone connected to Garstang Football Club. It took a considerable amount of time before the Club came to terms with the loss of such a person who was held in such high esteem by everyone and it was to his credit that the new Manager’s calm demeanour and respect for everything that was Garstang Football Club that he was able to galvanise the playing side after such a sad event culminating in a promotion back to the West Lancs. Premier Division, at the first attempt. We all know that “Jags” would have enjoyed the celebrations as much as anyone else.

Paul Bailey and Alec Curwen worked well under the new boss guiding the Reserves to creditable 7th position in the league that season.

Chris Nix and Alex Spence did a fine job for the Youth Team despite having to play their home games down on Morecambe Football Club’s 3G training area.

A number of Youth and ex Youth Team players made their debuts in the First Team some of which had established themselves as second team regulars, the most notable being Tom Graham who scored two goals in his first team debut, picked up the second team’s Golden Boot award and the Players Player award at the end of season Presentation Ceremony at Garstang Golf Club.

Off the field the Ground Development had begun with new perimeter fencing, refurbishing of the changing rooms and the introduction of a container which facilitated official changing rooms and a treatment room at a cost of in excess of £40,000 but this wasn’t it as work began on the drainage at the end of the 2012-13 season and the erection of the long awaited Floodlights all part of the wider development plans.

2013/14 SEASON

It took a nine game unbeaten run at the end of the season to secure a respectable 10th place finish following promotion back into the West Lancs. Premier Division.

The Club continued with its ambitious plans to develop the ground and as the season came to an end the heavy machinery was on the pitch levelling, laying new drains and cables for the floodlights, bringing the amount of money spent on the ground in the last five years up to £70,000.

In his preparation for the new season Manager Iain Swan brought in former Morecambe and Lancaster City defender Neil Uberschar as Player Coach to strengthen his management team alongside himself and Garstang F.C. veteran Dave Porter who had returned to the Club as Assistant Manager during the 2013/14 season.

Dave Graham increased his input into the Club by taking over the role as Youth Team Manager from Alex Spence who had overseen the development of such players as Harrison Turner, Alex Swales and Liam Assalone.

Reserve team Manager Paul Bailey and his Assistant Alec Curwen completed the jigsaw providing opportunities for the Youth team Players and backing a First team Squad that at times was at full stretch.


SEASON 2014-15  

Extensive Ground work in the summer had initiated a request to The West Lancashire League for away games in the first month of the season, a decision that almost backfired.

After seven games, all played in August, only two points had been secured following draws at Lostock and Euxton Villa. Hard to take were narrow defeats at Thornton Cleveleys and Slyne followed by a less than flattering 6–3 score line at Wrens.

Meanwhile the Reserves had got off to a “flyer” winning both their games in August before going on to win their next four games culminating in a 2–0 victory over Leyland Utd on the 4th October.

A return to the Riverside for the First Team brought about the first win of the season, a comfortable 3–0 win over Fleetwood Hesketh, but the joy was short lived when a week later we were dumped out of the Lancashire Amateur Shield by Division 2 side Croston Sports on penalties. However, things picked up, a fine 1–2 win at Vickerstown then an even better 2–1 home win against top of the table Charnock Richard lifted spirits in the Garstang camp. That was until Manager Iain Swan announced his departure, preferring to join Kendal Town as assistant Manager.

The Reserve Team Management Team of Paul Bailey and Alec Curwen were asked to take temporary charge and they did so admirably overseeing a 5–1 home win over Thornton Cleveleys and draws at Coppull and Eagley.

The Reserves had suffered their first blip of the season, a 4–0 beating at Charnock but another four wins and a draw cemented their position at the top of the League by the end of November.

In the meantime the Committee were sifting through a quality list of applicants before eventually choosing former Bury, Morecambe and Accrington Stanley defender Neil Crossley  who had picked up managerial experience at Lancaster City. neil brought in Mark Thornley as his assistant.

Amid a number of postponements the good results continued with three wins and a draw before Christmas the highlight being a 2–1 over Wrens on the 6th December.

Despite going out of the Houston Cup at Leyland the Reserves continued to dominate the division losing only one more game at Hurst Green before securing club history and the Championship with a 1–4 win at Thornton Cleveleys and three games to spare. The achievement being all the more commendable having blooded in a number of Youth Team players including Assalone and Murphy who both also made their debut’s for the First Team. The inclusions indicating a bright future for the Club.

The New Year hadn’t started too well for the first team with defeats at Charnock Richard and then again at home to Vickerstown before going out of the Richardson Cup on penalties at Vickerstown. Two victory's over Eagley and Hesketh Bank were followed by defeats at Burnley and Hesketh Bank at home. One of the highlights and probably the best performance of the season came on the 21st March, a 1–3 win at Longridge Town the goals coming from Fawcett, Crook and Bell. Two more wins in the last four games, the final game being a 1–0 win over Longridge Town, David Jack notching the winner in stoppage time completing a satisfactory fifth place finish for Manager Neil Crossley.

The Youth team were taken over by Dave Graham and Mike Bevan and following a large amount of local interest a squad of 19 was selected. The squad contained some quality players and throughout the season they produced exciting football having no problems scoring goals but occasionally committing football suicide at the back!

There were lots of memorable games, the highlight being the league cup quarter final at Lytham St Annes YMCA when having been 4-2 down with 7 minutes to play they came back to equalise in the last minute and go through to the semi-final on penalties.

Defeats to Southport in the semi and in the last game of the season to Thornton, denying us the runners up spot in the league, prevented a good season becoming a great one. However, 10 of the squad got at least a taste of adult football with the reserves and all of them played a part in the brilliant league title success.

 

2015/16 SEASON
 
The 2015/16 season could only be described as a very wet rollercoaster. Neil Crossley began the new season with a couple of good looking signings under his belt and the first team got off to a reasonable start. The Reserves however suffered a hangover from their league title success and after a slow start Paul Bailey and Alec Curwen decided to call it a day. The committee acted quickly and former player Lee Baker was soon announced as the new reserve team manager.
 
At the end of October it began raining and very rarely stopped for the next four months. The low point came on the night of the 5th December when the River Wyre burst its banks resulting in the pitch, clubhouse and changing rooms being under 2 feet of water. A lot of hard work went into getting everything cleared up and sooner than expected the clubhouse was looking as good as new.
 
 
The weather didn't improve in the new year and neither did the mood round the club when on the 2nd March Neil Crossley resigned along with his assistant Mark Thornley. Lee Baker was immediately appointed as first team manager with Dave Graham taking charge of the reserves for the remaining games. With the first team in mid table Lee was able to experiment with some of his reserve players as some first team players drifted away. The reserves went on a great run over the last 8 games and finished a creditable 4th in the league.
 
The first team started getting some games in and went on a run in the Richardson cup that saw them beat Blackpool Wren Rovers, Slyne with Hest and Thornton Cleveleys to reach the final for the first time in their history. Although they lost the final to Charnock Richard it was a great achievement by Lee Bakers young side.
 
 
The youth team started the season with two new kits thanks to Bill Bamber and Preston Plastics. Dave Porter joined Dave Graham and Mike Bevan on the management side but left mid way through the season for personal reasons.The lads produced some good performances but the weather affected season took its toll and it became a struggle to keep the enthusiasm up. However, the youth team is a stepping stone to the senior teams and Ben Roberts ended up a first team regular and several lads played for the reserves making it a very successful season.
 
2016/17 Season
 
The pre-season began with the club picking up a couple of extra awards at the league's annual dinner, Adrian Wilding voted Secretary of the Year and the Reserves winning their division's Fair Play Trophy. Lee Baker confirmed he would continue as first team manager and immediately looked to bolster the squad but getting Neil Beesley on board as his assistant was a massive boost to the club. With Dave Graham retiring from the youth team and stand in reserves manager the search was on for new management and soon appointed Simon Bentham as reserves manager along with his assistant Hugh Sneddon. Steve Smith took over the youth team reins.
 
Pre-season games went well for both senior teams with the first team winning The Adam Swanwick Memorial cup for the first time with a 1-0 win in this annual fixture with Padiham. However, both teams had a tough set of fixtures at the start of the season and neither started well and this was compounded when, on 22nd August, the ground and clubhouse disappeared under 3 feet of water for the second time in 8 months. A mammoth effort by all at the sports club meant that disruption was kept to a minimum and we got a game on at home 9 days later.
September brought a change of fortune and after a defeat to our Nemisis for this season, Wren Rovers, the first team were unbeaten for the rest of the year (picking up team and manager of the month awards for December) and went on a run of 1 defeat in 22 games. This was to take us to the semi final of the Lancashire Amateur Shield when we suffered the heartbreak of a penalty shoot out defeat to eventual winners Burscough Richmond and the final of The Richardson Cup for the second successive year which saw a spirited display against Wrens but lady luck deserted us, hitting the frame of the goal 4 times before going down 2-0. Our final position in the league was 4th making it an excellent season albeit tinged with a little disappointment as to what might have been having got so close.
 
 
The Reserves were always going to be in for a tough season with the newly formatted Division 2 meaning that half the sides they were to come up against were first teams. With the new managers finding their feet it took a little while for things to settle down but once they did things improved and the combination of youth and experience produced some notable results and a comfortable 8th place finish.
 
The youth team suffered from inconsistency, mainly caused by injuries to key players right through the season. On their day they could, and did, beat most teams in their league. However, they dropped points against teams they should have beaten comfortably and this resulted in an 8th place finish. That said, the youth team is about developing players to make the transition to senior football and once again this proved a success with several players playing regularly with the reserves and 4 youth team players making their first team debuts.
 

 

Recent Honours:

 

1999/00: Lancashire Shield Winners

1999/00: President's Cup Winners

2000/01: Reserve Division Two Champions

2002/03: Houston Cup Winners

2006/07: West Lancs Division One Runners Up

2007/08: West Lancs Premier Division Champions

2007/08: Reserve Division Two Champions

2008/09: Wilf Carr Memorial Trophy Winners

2011/12: LEP Youth League Red Runners Up

2012/13: West Lancs Div 1 Runners Up

2014/15: West Lancs Reserve Div 1 Champions

2015/16: Richardson Cup Runners Up

2016/17: Richardson Cup Runners Up

 



 
Top! Top!