The local lad was one of a few players to have played for the Dolly Blues in both the Lancashire Combination and the Northern Premier League. John made over 230 appearances between 1963 and 1972. His most memorable performance was when he scored two goals at Christie Park and set up a third for the ex Manchester City player Joe Hayes.
Unfortunately passed away on Boxing Day 2008.
The summer of 1971 saw, along with new manage Peter Gilmour, the arrival of several new forwards, giving City one of the most exciting attacking formations ever. Barry Whitbread has already been featured in this series, fellow striker Dave Furnival had two spells at the Giant Axe, and the arrival of winger Jimmy Garrett completed a new front three for the Giant Axe team. In 1971-2 City scored 85 league goals – only four teams scored more – with Whitbread netting 22 times, Furnival 17 and Garrett 11.
Signed from Lancashire Combination Champions, Prestwich Heys, Garrett was an instant success and immediately became a very popular player with the Giant Axe fans. He scored on his league debut against Kirkby Town and played in 44 of City’s 46 league games in his debut season. Garrett had plenty of skill and enterprise and a fair turn of speed. City became recognised as one of the most attractive teams in the League, although even in those days they had defensive frailties; 85 goals scored was almost matched with the 84 conceded!
1972-3 was the season in which City struggled at the bottom of the league for almost all year, but had a very good time in more than one cup competition, notably the F.A. Cup. In an up and down season, Garrett finished second top scorer, with 9 goals, to Barry Whitbread, and again was virtually ever present, playing in 42 games and featuring as sub in three more. He gave a dazzling wing display in City’s glorious performance against Notts County setting up Whitbread’s early goal and supposedly attracting a lot of interest from various League clubs who attended the game.
1973-4 turned out to be Garrett’s last season at the Giant Axe. He again turned in some consistent performances, playing in 30 of City’s first 31 games and scoring 7 goals. However, City were struggling once again in the League and Garrett was aware that more successful clubs had been expressing an interest in him, which not surprisingly had an unsettling effect. He arrived late for one game early in the New Year and was reportedly by this time anxious to move. Altrincham made a cash offer of £1200, but City needed new blood and eventually settled for a deal which involved Garrett signing form NPL giants Wigan Athletic, whilst receiving in exchange two players, Micky Taylor and Tony Marsden.
Garrett stayed at Wigan for at least two and a half years. My records indicate that he played again City in both league games in 1974-5 and again in 1975-6, but it would seem that by 1976-7 he had either lost his place as Wigan sought Football League status, or had moved on. More information would be appreciated as I am sure that Garrett’s playing career would not have ended at this stage.
NPL appearances and goals:
1971/2 44 11
1972/3 42 3 9
1973/4 30 7
Totals 116 3 27
First game: 14.08.71 vs Kirkby Town (H) won 5 – 0
Last game: 05.01.74 vs Scarborough (H) won 2 – 0
Author: Dave Towers
In their early years in the Northern Premier League, there was one particular team which was overall no better than City, but which on most occasions managed to beat them and become a true ‘bogey’ team. This club hailed from a small town in East Lancashire by the name of Great Harwood. And if there was any one player who always caused City trouble, it was their bearded left-winger, Ian Hope.
Prior to the start of the 1974-5 season, Hope was brought to the Giant Axe by the then manager, Sean Gallagher, making his debut in the first game of the season away at Matlock Town (n.b. strangely enough, Vaugh Williams made his own debut the same day!!). Hope took some considerable time to settle in his new surrounding, partly because initially he was played more as a central forward before being moved onto his favourite position on the left flank.
In the 1990s, there seemed to be a definite lack of ‘characters’ in football. In the 70s, City certainly had one in ‘Hopey’. Well known to all referees on the Northern non-league circuit for his backchat, he amassed many bookings, but was, on his day, one of the most skilful and entertaining wingers around and was thus a natural crowd-pleaser. Hopey having to pull out of a game would be greeted with the same dismay as Martin Horsfield being absent from the team in 1988-9.
A terrific comedian on the coach on away trips, one incidents that sticks in my mind was a Worksop in the mid 70s. Hopey didn’t play due to a minor injury, but had travelled with the squad and was either 12th man or there for moral support only, my memory fails me as to which. At this time City always seemed to do well at Worksop and more than not used to win the game with spectacular goals. Come 4.40pm, city had once again tasted victory and as the players and officials were making their way to the dressing room, an irate Worksop fan started mouthing off about City being lucky. This prompted Hopey to stamp on this gentleman’s foot, before disappearing through the throng into the dressing room with the door closed firmly behind. The Worksop fan, enraged, and no doubt with a sore foot, banged on City’s dressing room door demanding, ‘Where’s that bloke with the beard, he stood on my foot?’. Upon which a voice from the corner of the dressing room replied, ‘Tell him I’ll stand on his f*$%/£* head if he doesn’t clear out of here!!’
Injury struck in January 1977 in a match again Willington in the F.A. Trophy when Hope sustained a bad leg injury and did not in fact return until October, two months into the following season. From this point onwards, Hope’s appearances became more restricted, many times having to be content with a place on the bench.
His final season turned out to be 1978-9. Again his appearances were fewer, but he was brought back for the last game of the season, at home to Goole Town. Made captain for the match, Hope scored City’s goal in a 1-2 defeat and was presented with a £100 cheque, a tankard and a set of crystal glasses, and the gate money for the match. He had certainly provided City fans with a lot of entertainment over his five years at the Giant Axe.
League appearances and goals:
1974/5 39 3 5
1975/6 42 1 10
1976/7 20 4 7
1977/8 18 11 6
1978/9 19 5 6
Total 138 24 34
First game: 17.08.74 Matlock Town (A)
Last game: 05.05.79 Goole Town (H)
Author: Dave Towers
JOHN ‘Dosser’ DARLEY
To some supporters who remember their visits to the Giant Axe in the 70s, the inclusion of John Darley in this series may seem a little questionable.
Darley’s career in City’s colours came in two distinct spells. Signed from Blackpool Mechanics in 1973, he made his debut against Barrow in a historic match, City’s inaugural game under their new floodlights, on 28 August. However, city were struggling under manager Derek Armstrong and Darley, a somewhat cumbersome and awkward looking centre-forward, was not popular with the fans. His last game of the spell was only some 14 weeks later, when City were humiliated 1-4 against Leek Town, then playing some way below the Northern Premier League, in the F.A. Trophy.
Less than three years later however, ‘the Dosser’, now in his late 20s, was back, and how his game had improved during that period. Still an unlikely looking footballer – he had now turned grey – he had developed into an ideal target man, showing immaculate control and ability to shield the ball and although not a prolific scorer, he found the target with several spectacular headers. Again he had made his second debut against Barrow in an NPL Cup tie at Holker Street and was to play for the best part of two seasons.
A game that stands out in my mind was in October 1977 when City were on an excellent run and entertained Northwich Victoria – themselves strongly placed – in a League game played at the Giant Axe in front of almost 1,200 spectators. City won a thriller 3-2. Darley scored one goal, made another for George Buchan and gave the Northwich defenders a torrid time all afternoon with his deft flicks and skilful lay-offs. Towards the end of that season his appearances were restricted due to a persistent knee injury but he was voted the ‘Player of the Year’ by the fans and his team-mates also nominated him ‘Players’ Player of the Year’. Manager Sean Gallagher had hoped he would play on a non-contract basis the following season, but this was not to be.
Debut: 28.08.73 vs Barrow (H)
Last match: 05.12.73 vs Leek Town (H)
League appearances: 13 1
Debut: 31.08.76 vs Barrow (A)
Last match: 16.04.78 vs Scarborough (H)
League appearances: 68 1
Author: Dave Towers
After City’s win at Guiseley in September, I had a chat with Keith Brindle in the clubhouse after the game. Quite naturally, we talked about former City players and I happened to mention the name of Ced Gelling, upon which Keith commented, ‘Ah yes, the best player in Non-League football’.
In recent seasons, City have had a habit of signing players who have caused them trouble when playing against them, Peter Devine and Martin Horsfield immediately coming to mind. On 9th January 1971, City played a Lancashire Challenge Trophy tie at the Anchor Ground, Darwen. Darwen were still playing in the Lancashire Combination and City were expected to win. The result: Darwen 1, Lancaster City 0 (things don’t change, do they?!) and the Visitor’s report started as follows: ‘A schoolteacher from Leeds who plays football in his spare time scored the goal that put Lancaster City out of the First Round of the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy at Darwen on Saturday’.
Signed for City by manager Peter Gilmour, CEDRIC GELLING started off as a forward and I particularly remember a tremendous performance against high-fliers Macclesfield Town, who visited the Giant Axe on the 15th September 1971, a week after Gelling’s arrival. In front of 820 supporters, Ced wore the number 9 shirt and scored both goals in a surprise 2-0 win. That season Gelling featured in 40 of City’s games, netting 5 times.
City were a struggling team in the early 70s and had various changes of manager and numerous personnel changes on the field. Gelling was a true ‘utility’ player – a sort of past-day Eddie Kennedy (only better!). Gradually though, he became established as a back four player and with Sean Gallagher’s arrival as manager, played at left-back and then his eventual recognised position at number six, alongside the centre-half. Perhaps his most memorable moment came during a home match against Gainsborough Trinity, on 24th August 1974, when Ced scored one of the most remarkable goals ever seen on the ground, playing left-back. In those days, we even had decent reports in the Visitor and Mike Whalley described Gelling’s goal in City’s 5-3 win as follows:
‘The goals included a memorable solo effort by Cedric Gelling who scored what must surely rate as one of the finest ever seen on the ground. Taking the ball mid way in the Gainsborough half, he simply dribbled past just about every Gainsborough player in sight, well at least six of them. Nobody, it seemed, could stop the relentless journey to goal. He hurdled outstretched legs with disdainful ease, dodged a number of desperate looking tackles, and miraculously threaded his way through a human maze which threatened to envelop him at the edge of the box. Incredibly he survived to burst unaccompanied into the penalty area. Even then it seemed that he couldn’t go on much longer; that someone was going to stop him.
However, the magic remained, and neatly moving to his right, although at the same time narrowing the angle considerably, Gelling evaded the final obstacle – the goalkeeper – and knocked the ball into the net’.
Ced’s final season turned out to be 1975-6. Having missed just one match, the season was drawing to a close when City played at Northwich Victoria on Saturday 10 April. After an hour’s play, Gelling crashed to the ground in a collision with an opposing player and had to be stretchered off and taken to hospital in Crewe with a suspected broken arm. He won City’s ‘Player of the Year’ award that season, but never played for the Club again.
At first, it was reported that Ced would be out only for the rest of the season and officials and supporters were optimistic that he would make a complete recovery. Throughout the following months the local paper gave progress reports but the come-back date was being put back all the time. At the start of 1977, City Chairman Charles Capstick was confident that Ced, who was scheduled to see a specialist, would be given the go-ahead to resume light training after the visit. However, this wasn’t to be and a good enough recovery was never made.
The career of non-league’s classiest defender had ended at the age of 33.
Debut: 08.08.71 vs Great Harwood (H)
Last match: 10.04.76 vs Northwich Victoria (A)
League appearances: 185 plus 5 subs
Author: Dave Towers
Lancaster have had a number of great goalkeepers over the years, but two have been outstanding – Mark Thornley and Glenn Johnstone – the latter being the more prominent for his size and subsequent move into professional football with Preston North End.
Glen actually had three spells with Lancaster since his initial move from Accrington Stanley in 1986. It was on the second occasion at Giant Axe when he really got noticed with his transfer to the Deepdale Club during the 1992 – 1993 season for the sum of £5,000.
At that time the Football League Club were struggling in the league, yet Glenn performed magnificently between the posts for ten league games. In fact, his ability was rewarded with the “Man of the Match” award on more than one occasion. The Lancashire Evening Post who recorded marks out of ten also rated the agile goalkeeper with the highest marks for nearly every game.
Unfortunately a bizarre accident happened when training on the sand dunes at Lythan with Manager John Beck and the team, which ended his career. It was also disappointing for Lancaster as it stopped payments for the number of appearances he made for Preston.
On the funnier side of life, Glenn will always be remembered for turning out for City as a striker when he had to come off the bench wearing trainers. In the summer months he changed shorts for white flannels and played cricket in the local leagues.
It would be remiss not to include the club’s all time leading record holder, Edgar Parkinson, in this first edition of ‘Legends’ on the new website. He has an outstanding achievement of having played nearly 600 competitive games for the club.
Another factor in this fantastic record is that he achieved it in 15 consecutive seasons from 1949/50 to 1963/64. The club were then in the Lancashire Combination and the Lancashire Junior Cup – now the Lancashire Marsden Building Society Challenge Trophy.
Edgar also played three finals in four years from 1951 to 1955 for City and won a medal in the first, but finished on the losing side in the others.
Edgar was a local man and had various offers at the time from Football League Clubs and to his credit remained loyal to Lancaster City FC. He still lives in the area.
It is 33 years since Barry signed for Lancaster, when he was studying at Lancaster University. The long haired footballer from Liverpool soon began to make a name for himself when scoring a hat-trick on his debut at the beginning of the 1971/72 season. This was a new period for Lancaster City because it was only the club’s second season in the new Northern Premier League and with a new manager, Peter Gilmour, in charge.
I think everybody that was around at that time will remember him for his fourth minute goal which put City ahead against Notts County. Unfortunately the Football League side managed to turn the game around after a disputed penalty decision in the FA Cup 1st round proper match in 1972/73.
During the next season Barry was reluctantly tranferred nearer home to Runcorn for a fee of £250. After his playing career had finished he joined Northwich Victoria as the assistant manager. He eventually returned to Canal Street as the new manager of Runcorn.
Barry is now the Recruitment Officer at Liverpool and is responsible for young players up to the age of 19 years. His son Zak, who was born in America, has dual nationality and is currently playing in the Liverpool Reserve side.