John McCormick: We're not bottom, so is it a Happy Christmas?


No game, and no need – or desire – for a relegation review so soon after the last one, which means I’m taking another meander around the Northwest to bring you up to date, more or less, with some of the clubs on this side of the Pennines.

I was going to title this piece “take a walk on the west side” in homage to wrinkly Pete’s propensity for including songs. You’ll find out why I didn’t at the end.


My starting point last time (27 January) was Morecambe, where Diego Lemos had bought the club (through a County Durham business he owned) and installed a friend as co-chairman.

a memory of a time when things looked better for Morecambe

A couple of months later at least one director, Nigel Adams, had resigned and things were awry.  With only 16 players available and a transfer embargo in place at the start of 2017 things didn’t look good.

 They don’t look a great deal better now but maybe there’s a glimmer of light shining down the tunnel. Supporters met in January and formed a trust. The official launch is this weekend  and we wish it well, although I’m not sure if Mr. Lemos will be available to discuss matters with the “Shrimps trust”.  He doesn’t appear to be anywhere on the radar at the moment.

we could do a lot worse

I can also report that Morecambe are currently 15th in league two, in no imminent danger of relegation, despite losing a recent derby game, which crude device brings me to Blackpool, who are currently 11 points above their neighbours, comfortable in 8th place and within sight of a playoff place.

That’s not bad, considering their troubles off the pitch. These don’t seem to be anywhere nearer resolution, with at least one court case ongoing, which I will not comment on. Outside of the courts it’s Blackpool supporters’ trust which is trying to move things along.

Fancy Going again? Wembley Way by Rob Hutchinson, March 2014

The trust has released a 10 point manifesto, some of which illustrates how far this once-fine club has fallen, and is involved in various events such as regional protests and a possible march down Wembley Way on cup final day – that’s not just for  Blackpool fans, by the way, but for all clubs who want to protest about the way their chairmen are running them.

Should you have strong feelings about Mr Ellis Short (and please be careful what you ask for) or club owners in general you can start here in your quest for information

One club where there certainly are strong feelings about the owners is Blackburn Rovers FC. I commented in January that they had had more managers than us since being relegated in 2010, since when they’ve added another. Tony Mowbray took over a month ago and hasn’t done too badly. Seven games unbeaten and only an injury time goal by Preston at the weekend stopped them from leaving the bottom three. Will they stay in the death zone? Their chances of avoiding the drop took a knock when top scorer Danny Graham (and did you ever expect to see those four words together?) did his groin in. He’ll be out for at least the rest of the month.

Just below Blackburn – although some points distant – are Wigan. They also sacked their manager but still look certain to drop out of the championship, which will scupper some of the plans I’m making for next season. However, things don’t look too bad off the pitch. There doesn’t appear to be any great animosity towards the Board or owners; Sunderland fans might find Pete Reece’s fine article resonating with them:

“…In the end, it probably depends on whether you’re already an optimist or pessimist. Me? I’ll go for cautious optimism since without it, there’s just no point any more…”

If (when) Wigan go down there’s a good chance they will be replaced by Bolton Wanderers, who have climbed back into the promotion places on the back of a good run of form and some good work by Ben Alnwick, whom I’d forgotten about until I read he wanted to hug someone for the right reasons. 

It’s not all sweetness and light, though. According to the Bolton News the club has massive debts, is running at a loss and there may be a  feud between two key directors, one of whom has apparently released the club’s balance sheet, which you can find at I mention this because if you use that site’s search internal search engine to look for a certain NorthEast club the closest you’ll come is

When I said that Blackpool and Morecambe were neighbours I neglected to mention Fleetwood Town FC, who are to be found somewhere were in between them. That’s only geographically speaking, of course, as Fleetwood, without any of the fuss or bother surrounding Morecambe or Blackpool, and despite losing Jamie Vardy, have risen through the ranks and are sitting pretty in League 1, behind Bolton and with their eyes set on the championship. It’s no surprise that Uwe Rosler has been named League 1 manager of the season.

a relic from the days of Empire, now not fit for the commonwealth

And as I’ve moved back to the coast I’ll head down it to the Mersey and Bramley Moore Dock, which was mooted as a venue for a new stadium for Everton. I had nothing to add to what I wrote  in January until Durban withdrew its bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games and the City of Liverpool announced it might be up to hosting them.

The 2002 games in Manchester did Man City no harm, and there was speculation Everton could benefit in a similar way, especially after  his majesty Joe Anderson – a bluenose, to use the local expression – had dropped hints earlier a couple of days before the Council met.  On the day of the meeting Everton confirmed they had agreed to buy the Dock, then the city council outlined how it would support Everton with a deal that would aim to both guard the city’s UNESCO world heritage status and potentially support  a bid for the Commonwealth games in 2022 or 2026. Altogether, it’s a really ambitious project. It’ll be great for the city and I hope I’m around to see it completed. More prosaically, you can expect a seat with a view some time in the next ten years.

I was going to leave things there but on Wednesday we had had the news of Ronnie Moran’s death at the age of 83. He spent almost 50 years at Liverpool FC, during which time the club won at least 29 trophies, not including Charities Shields or the division 2 championship in 1962 (when we finished third), and in 1992 he led the team out against us at Wembley after filling in for Graham Souness.

I could say more but I can’t better the eulogy you’ll find on the LFC website. Nor can I better the man himself – I lifted today’s title from something of his I found on that LFC webpage:

“I won a few things with them and had a little bit of success,” he said. “You just think ‘well, I’ve done that, can I do it again?’ ”

RIP Ronnie Moran.


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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

One Response to “‘I won a few things with them and had a little bit of success’” Subscribe

  1. Wrinkly Pete March 25, 2017 at 11:24 am #

    Another in depth piece reminding us all that not only is there more to life than football but indeed more to life than SAFC.

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