AFC Darwen V Cammell Laird 1907 FC (7/5/16)
I actually set off at 8.30am for this 3pm kick off game. Its only Lancashire but the reason being was to take two fellow Blyth fans to see the 12.30 kick off Blackburn Rovers v Reading game They were then coming with me for the match at AFC Darwen. I have been to Blackburn Rovers before but that was way back in 1984. I saw Carlisle that day who were beaten 4-0 in the old second division (now the Championship) in front of a crowd of only 5,141. I later found out there were 13,140 at today’s game and I cannot work out why the difference.
I had pondered and thought about going with the Lads to Ewood Park again for a second visit. The ground has probably changed beyond recognition from the time I was there. However its not quite the same ground hopping a second time to a place you have already
been to before. The other deciding factor not to go was the price which actually was not too bad on the day. I could have had a ticket for £18 but in my eyes it’s a bit steep. Modern football prices some people out these days. Well that’s my opinion anyway.
AFC Darwen FC is only about a mile and a half from Ewood Park so it was no problem picking my comrades up to take them to their second match of the day.
AFC Darwen has a fascinating history and I wonder how many people know they used to be in the football league.. I did not until I read it a few years ago. The club was originally formed as Darwen FC in 1870 and from 1891 were in the football league for 8 years until 1899. If you had been around in 1881 and were a Darwen fan you could have been singing “….were going to Wembley” as they did nearly just that. They were unfortunately beaten in the semi final of the FA cup by Old Carthusians 4-1 to end their dream.
Darwen played in local leagues for many years before becoming founder members of the North West Counties league. However the club have had financial difficulties in recent times and were eventually wound up in 2009 after a history of 134 years. AFC were quickly formed the same year and started off in the local Lancashire league. The club got back to the North West Counties league last year.
The club play at the Anchor ground although I believe the played at the Barley Bank ground many years ago. They were not in the football league at their current residence. The ground has a smart club house, changing rooms and main stand down one side of the pitch. That’s more or less it really. Apart from the dug outs on the far side there is a small terrace of two or three steps around the other three sides of the ground. There was no cover for standing spectators. The ground is on top of a hill and you get a decent view of the Industrial Town of Blackburn.
Today’s opponents were Cammell Laird a club like that AFC Darwen also folded just a short time ago. Cammell Laird had been around since 1907. Although they never reached the heady heights of the FA cup like their hosts they did get to the semi finals of the FA Vase in 2006. The club have also played in the Northern Premier League North divisions (North and South) for a while and were in the Premier league one year only. In 2014 the original club folded but quickly reformed with 1907 FC at the end of their name.
Sad to see clubs fold but at the same time great to see them reform and build again. I hate to see clubs go to the wall and never come back again. Especially if I have not visited there before.
Today’s match kicked off in gloriously sunshine. Judging by the number of Blackburn Rover shirts I recon possibly half the crowd had also been to Ewood park as well. The game kicked off and the visitors took the game to their hosts immediately. There were only four minutes on the clock when Cammell Laird scored the opening goal. The pressure was possibly on AFC Darwen as a defeat and a win for Alsager Town in another game would send them down. However the home side never really looked perturbed and settled into the game. By 15 minutes they pulled a goal back and then took the lead on 21 minutes. By half time AFC Darwen were 3-1 up and coasting.
On 54 minutes AFC Darwen scored a fourth goal to put the game to bed and save themselves for another season.
At half time I had a look in the club house and some of the memorabilia on the walls. Usually they are of title winning side or the team lifting some Trophy. However one picture/photograph was of the team returning home after a FA cup third round match at Arsenal. Looked if it was back in Darwen at the train station. They looked happy bunch of blokes despite the 11-1 drubbing they got that day!