Carlisle Restore Normality.
Well – another year done and dusted. And what has happened in that time? The ongoing crisis at Morecambe Football Club continues unabated. New owners have arrived and the old Chairman has finally done what he threatened to do if anyone stopped him engineering the move to the new stadium several years ago: cut his ties with the club and walked away. Under the Old Regime, players and staff were not paid reliably and on-time. And guess what, under the new regime… Sorry – I nearly blurted it out. And I’ve been told very firmly during the last week (on Facebook in particular) to stop airing the club’s dirty washing in public. I mean – let’s face it – nobody (and particularly other clubs’ supporters) would know anything about the shambles off the field if people like me didn’t open this particular can of worms to public scrutiny, would they? The players don’t comment about it on social media, do they? The local paper doesn’t publish articles about it either. Nothing’s said on the local radio stations or regional TV news programmes. The Professional Footballers’ Association has had no input into it, have they? So let me take back everything I wrote in my last report. Everything’s fine at Morecambe FC. Couldn’t be better in fact. And any liars, traitors or Fifth Columnists who suggest anything to the contrary are being disloyal to the club. Oh – and Jam Butty Mines and Leprechauns do exist as well – and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise… But there I go, waffling on again. One of the many people who have been critical of what I have written in recent times summed it up thus on the Morecambe fans’ website, Shrimpsvoices, a few days ago: “Probably a better idea to divide your match reports and opinions about the club into separate articles in future, then those who simply want to read about the game don’t have to trawl through potentially alienating waffle first” Yes Sir. Sorry Sir. Thankyou Sir. Dismissing what I wrote in all seriousness about Morecambe’s latest problems as `waffle’ without actually saying why seems to me to be wholly unhelpful. But that’s obviously my mistake: according to the man who wrote the above, it is actually `constructive criticism’. As I clearly lack the intellect to appreciate this, I have asked the author of this remark – `John L’ – via the same forum to deign to actually show all us lesser mortals how this should be done. I wasn’t able to attend the derby at the Globe today because of a family New Year Knees-Up which I was very keen to go to. So here’s his rookie report:
Oh dear. Looks like John has had too much Chicken for Xmas, folks. Ducked out of it. Cried Fowl.
I’m tempted to go on and on about Keyboard Warriors; Empty Vessels etc etc or even refer back to an earlier article I have written about this sort of thing (http://d3d4football.com/the-blame-game-by-roger-fitton/) but I frankly can’t be bothered. Instead, I’m going to accentuate the positive:
“He’s posting independent match reports, as he says the only one to do so. If you don’t like his style, don’t read them. If you can do better, just do it.”
Amen to that, Little Shrimp. In my view, there is a crisis at our club which needs to be at least discussed. Dismissing anybody’s views about this as `waffle’ without saying why or putting forward any alternative scenario takes the debate not a jot further. Whingeing that even talking about it openly is disloyal to the club doesn’t make any sense to me – surely not saying anything in the situation we all find ourselves in is wholly irresponsible. In my view, what we need to do collectively is discuss honestly and creatively the reality we are facing as Shrimps’ supporters. Burying our heads in the sand, slagging-off others whose opinions we are unhappy about or would prefer not to hear at all and particularly continually calling for the Manager’s head in a situation where he works wonders year-in-year-out just to keep our club in the EFL helps absolutely nobody at all and achieves precisely nothing.
We’re all in this together – or we should be. So let’s get on with it…
Before we start, though, I would just like to say that – despite all the oh-so-predictable negative responses of the last few days – there is at least one thing that makes contributing articles to sites like the one you are reading this on right now worthwhile. And that is the fact they have had a very positive effect on some people who read them. In the reverse fixture at Brunton Park during October, the photograph I took of disabled Morecambe fan Jordan and his minder Sam in the pouring rain as Storm Callum crossed Cumbria was published online and went viral as a result. It caused such a sensation that Radio Five Live did a feature about it the following week. More importantly, the Powers That Be at Carlisle United – having firstly said very firmly that the whole ground needed upgrading and disabled facilities for Away Supporters was not at the top of their list of priorities – totally capitulated. They were shamed into doing this by the involvement of Radio 5 and the brilliant account of his experiences at places like Brunton Park given by Sam himself on the air. Well done that man. However, the driving force behind the change of policy came from Blues’ fans themselves. So – confounding the hopelessly pessimistic view below of another of our number – `redrobo’ – Carlisle United fans showed what can be achieved when supporters take matters into their own hands:
“I for one get really pissed off with the way some fans keep going on about issues that as fans we can’t resolve.”
Ooer Missis – at least John L keeps it clean… So well done Blues fans; well done Sam and Jordan; I might have started the ball rolling with my photograph and what I wrote about it but Sam definitely ran with it and Carlisle supporters well and truly stuck it into the net.
But would their team do so today at the Globe? Carlisle’s record against the Shrimps over the years is depressingly good as far as we Morecambe supporters are concerned. Before their tremendous win away from home last October, the Shrimps had only beaten the Cumbrians once in fourteen previous attempts (eighteen according to Carlisle’s website.) The stark fact remained before kick-off that Morecambe have never beaten United by the Lancashire seaside, either at the Globe or Christie Park.
John Sheridan’s team came into the game on the back of four straight wins on the spin (including a 6-0 demolition of Oldham which cost Manager Frankie Bunn his job) and were sitting in eighth position in League Two, right on the fringes of the Play-Off positions. To add to the hyperbole, the club had sold-out their allocation of 1768 tickets the previous year (ok – the day before the game if you must) such was the demand for them. Morecambe, meanwhile, trailed thirteen points and twelve places below them.
It was sunny and relatively mild on the first day of 2019 in North Lancashire by Morecambe Bay. In front of a packed away end, Morecambe had the majority of the possession during the opening few minutes. Anthony Gerrard had to be alert to get his boot to an over-the-top ball after seven minutes to direct the ball away from an incoming Vadaine Oliver at the cost of a corner. Former Shrimps’ star Jamie Devitt put the ball into the Morecambe wall from a free kick after twelve minutes but he was not to be denied much longer. Just over a quarter of an hour had been played when Devitt showed the home fans what they are undoubtedly missing as he received a throw from Macauley Gillespey, cleverly let the ball fall over his shoulder, turned and volleyed a peach of a shot from 20 yards out which went in off the Morecambe bar to put the visitors one goal up. Kelvin Etuhu – playing his two hundred and fiftieth game for Carlisle today – then looked to double the visitors’ advantage but Steven Old was able to block his attempt. Jordan Cranston tried to exert some pressure on the game for the hosts subsequently but his free kick after 27 minutes went over the bar and a long range shot from 30 yards out a couple of minutes later was easily saved by Adam Collin in the United goal. Kevin Ellison then forced a save from the visiting keeper after half an hour when in an off-side position but the visitors had the final word at the end of the half when Tom Parkes headed Devitt’s corner kick over the bar.
Rhys Oates had the first half-chance of the second period: Collin was unable to hold his vicious strike with 63 minutes on the clock but Blues’ defender Gerrard was able to clear the ball before any player in red could follow it up. As the home side was shading the play, Collin denied Carlos Mendes-Gomes with a good save with 65 minutes on the clock. There were chances for both teams after this but neither goalkeeper was seriously tested again until seventy-seven minutes had been played. In an action reply of their first goal, Gillespey took a throw-in, Jack Sowerby let the ball go across his body and then unleashed an excellent shot into the top corner of the goal out of reach of Mark Halstead to send the almost two thousand Carlisle fans behind the goal into ecstasy. That was basically it. The visitors fashioned a couple more opportunities which came to nothing and Cranston again tried his luck only for Collin to field it quite easily.
So United made it five wins in a row and Morecambe failed at home against the Cumbrians yet again. The win pushes John Sheridan’s team into the lowest of the Play-Off positions: seventh place. Morecambe remained in twentieth place in League Two as only Macclesfield of all the teams directly around them managed to get any points on the board today: the Silkmen drew 1-1 with Tranmere. So it’s looking quite positive for the men from Cumbria: they keep winning; they are in the Play-Offs – and, come to think of it, they are unbeaten in all competitions this year…
Morecambe: 21 Mark Halstead; 2 Zak Mills; 16 Sam Lavelle; 27 Jordan Cranston (Y); 3 Luke Conlan; 4 Alex Kenyon (6 Andrew Tutte 66 mins); 5 Steven Old; 18 Rhys Oates (28 A-Jay Leitch-Smith 66 mins); 19 Carlos Mendes-Gomes (14 Liam Mandeville 83 mins); 9 Vadaine Oliver (Y); 11 Kevin Ellison.
Subs not used: 13 Dawid Szczepaniak; 14 Josef Yarney; 25 Ben Hedley; 20 Lamine Jagne.
Carlisle United: 20 Adam Collin; 4 Gary Liddle; 3 Danny Grainger (C); 5 Anthony Gerrard (Y); 6 Tom Parkes; 9 Hallam Hope; 10 Jamie Devitt (15 Regan Slater 82 mins); 12 Macauley Gillesphey (14 Richie Bennett 87 mins); 18 Jack Sowerby (7 Jason Kennedy 90+mins); 21 Kelvin Etuhu (Y); 23 Ashley Nadesen.
Subs not used: 29 Louis Gray; 8 Mike Jones; 2 Gary Miller; 27 Liam McCarron; 12 Jason Oswell.
Ref: Ben Toner.
3479 (1784 from Carlisle)