Lancaster bombed out

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Saturday September 15th 2102, at ‘Giant Axe’, FA Trophy Preliminary Round, KO 15:45; due to major accident on M6 motorway.

Lancaster City (Blue/white)  1-2 Wakefield (Yellow/Blue), attendance 119.

Admission £7, Programme £1.50, badge £3.

And so, after a busy but generally painless journey up the motorways, we were met with the dreaded flashing neon sign on the M6, saying Junctions  34/36 ‘closed’ due to accident investigation work.
Our ultimate destination was a log cabin holiday chalet 15 miles to the south of Dumfries on the Solway Firth, but before that, the plan had been to visit the Frenchfields home of Penrith FC for their FA Vase match versus Horden Colliery Welfare.

By 13:25, having sat in a virtually static traffic queue for about ninety minutes behind junction 34 on the M6, it was clear I was not going to make Penrith for a 3pm KO. Also, bearing in mind that their opponents were coming across country from the North East,  I believed that this KO would be unlikely to be delayed.
A quick decision needed to be made. Right “b*gger it”, I said to Ros, let’s come off at the next junction and stop in Lancaster “I’m pretty sure Lancaster City FC are at home”. Ros quickly checked the fixtures for me from the NL Paper, and indeed they were, an FA Trophy tie v Wakefield. Lancaster had been a ground high on my ‘tick list’ for some years anyway, so I was happy.

A quick phone call to LCFC confirmed that Wakefield were on the way, but, that some of the Preston based home players had not arrived yet. And they advised that a worse case scenario would be a late kick off, wich was good enough for me. Then tuning into BBC Radio Cumbria, they suggested similar problems at Barrow (v Newport), and Kendal T (v North Ferriby Utd). But suddenly at about 2pm the traffic eased, so we headed to the next junction, thinking that perhaps Kendal was ‘doable’, but at Junction 35 the queue returned, so we headed off, and came back on the other side of the M6 towards Lancaster.

I’d passed by Lancaster’s ‘Giant Axe’ ground on the train a year or two back on the branch line to/from Morecambe, and had noted then that it looked a fine ground. Upon entering the ground, neither the turnstile operator or a few club officials I spoke to were yet aware of the KO time, by 15:00, the Wakefield team had yet to arrive, and as we found out a little later, neither had the officials!

Lancaster is the county town of Lancashire, It is situated on the River Lune and has a population of 45,952. With its history based on its port and canal, Lancaster is an ancient settlement, dominated by Lancaster Castle. It is also home to the collegiate and campus-based Lancaster University and a campus of the University of Cumbria.

Lancaster, as a historic city, offers an unusual level of contemporary cultural activity. The city is fortunate to have retained many fine examples of Georgian architecture. Lancaster Castle, the Priory Church of St. Mary and the Edwardian Ashton Memorial are among many sites of historical importance.

Seven years ago LCFC were in NL Step Two playing in the Conference North, but administration followed, after re-forming, they have now tumbled down to Step4 playing in the Northern Premier D1 North.

Anyway, shortly after, the three officials arrived followed in quick succession by Wakefield, and it was soon announced we would have a 3.45pm KO.
It later transpired that Barrow kicked off at 4.15 and Kendal at 4.30. Outside, in the car park I had bumped into three Leicester City supporting ground hoppers, who were intending to visit Barrow, but like me because of the M6 chaos detoured to Lancaster. So that was at least an extra 5 on the gate for LCFC!

As this was a last-minute visit, I had no idea of the relevant league positions of LC and Wakefield. When I did, I found Wakefield rock bottom, having not even scored a league goal this season. And Lancaster only a few  more places up the table. But hey, this is the cup, anything can, and often does happen.

LC had recently controversially sacked their returning from surgery/illness manager Tony Hesketh, and reading the match programme later, it seemed the board’s decision had not gone down well with the regulars.

Their mood would hardly have been lightened, when Wakefield went ahead after four minutes through Lee Turner. In fact, in the first half Wakefield gave as good as they got, and LC were fortunate to equalise in the 44th min from Matt Dobwell after some good approach work from the Brazilian Branco (on loan from Fleetwood).
1-1 HT.

Whilst I slowly toured the ground, camera in hand, I noticed that the second half was mostly dominated by Lancaster, without them really convincing me of their ability to stick the ball in the onion bag. Wakefield occasionally broke away, but it looked like it was heading for a replay much to the  annoyance of some locals. “I’ll be boogered if I’m going all the way to Wakefield midweek” being the usual type of comment I was hearing.
Well they needn’t of worried, as after a last minute sending off, for two bookables for LC midfielder Rob Wilson, and then from a goalmouth scramble Wakefield’s Dave Boardman bundled home in the 90 + 3rd minute, much to the joy off their small batch of fans.

Thankfully, after the game, and leaving for Scotland, we found the M6 clear, phew!

The Dolly Blues Giant Axe is a lovely old school ground, and I highly recommend a visit.  🙂

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