‘Meeting the opposition’ – Morecambe F.C

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Morecambe F.C

This weekend, Tranmere Rovers will travel to the newly-named Mazuma Stadium where they will face high-flying Morecambe F.C in a League Two encounter. With that in mind, I placed questions towards long-serving supporter Stuart Rae @Stu_Rob_Rae. I thought it would be interesting to see the thoughts of a fan who’s club will soon face Rovers, to get his opinions of the Whites as well as his thoughts on the position of the Shrimps at the moment, on and off the pitch; amongst other subjects.

  • How long have you been a Morecambe supporter? How did you find out about the club?

I’ve been supporting the Shrimps for around 25 years, through my local cub scouts group. Former Morecambe player Keith Galley was the coach of the cubs football team and would organise tickets to go to the games – so it’s all his fault!

  • Where did Morecambe finish last season, what are your thoughts on the last campaign?

Morecambe finished 22nd in the league last season, a campaign that ended abruptly. I think this is a bit deceptive, as we had hit good form and things were starting to look up after a slow start. In the October of 2019, we were sitting bottom of the league and we were managerless. Had the season played out, I think we would’ve finished higher.

  • What are your thoughts on Shrimps’ current manager, Derek Adams?

Derek has done a fantastic job at the club so far – taking us from the bottom of League Two, to the promotion places in just 15 months. He’s brought a lot of new faces in, the majority being quality, many of whom he’s worked with before. Perhaps most impressively he has been able to get the best out of the retained players that were already here. The longer we can keep him, the better in my opinion – he’s only the fourth permanent manager we’ve had since I’ve supported the club (Jim Bentley being manager for eight years).

  • What are your thoughts on Morecambe’s owner, who is he?

The majority shareholding in the club is currently held by London based Bond Group Investments, aka Colin Golding and Jason Whittingham, who also own the controlling stake in Worcester Warriors Rugby Union club. Alongside the current board, they’ve been able to stabilise and fund the Shrimps after a period of instability caused by the initial sale of the club by long-time owner Peter McGuigan – and the period of disputed ownership that followed. It is unclear what the long-term objectives are from the current owners, but they have continued to inject capital into the business, and have looked to reduce the clubs debts. 

  • What are your expectations for this season? What are your thoughts on the campaign so far?

I thought we would do okay this season given how we finished the last campaign and the signings we made in pre-season, but we are exceeding my expectations so far. As a Morecambe fan, to see the club third in the league is great – let’s hope we can keep it up. Based on how we are playing and our current form, there is no reason why we can’t. It’s a bit of a cliché, but it’s a tight league – and every club can beat each other on their day.

  • What players will pose the greatest threats to Tranmere this weekend?

Morecambe midfielders Carlos Mendes-Gomes and Adam Phillips (on loan from Burnley) have built up a great understanding in a short period of time, and it’s a connection that’s been responsible for a lot of our goals recently. We hold a shape well, and are difficult to break down. Added to that we can break forward with the ball quickly down the flanks through Cooney (also on loan from Burnley) and Stephen Hendrie. Sometimes we’ll press high up the pitch, but often we’ll concede possession to our opponents and allow them to pass it around in their own half. Don’t be surprised to have most of the play but not create many clear openings – it’s been a common theme in the games so far, and the efficiency in our play has brought good results to date.

  • What is your score prediction for the game at the Mazuma Stadium?

I don’t want to jinx us, but as Derek Adams highlighted recently in the press, the Shrimps are currently 10 games unbeaten at home in all competitions, something we’ve not achieved as a club since 2005 – before we moved grounds. We’re also in superb league form at the moment, taking 22 points from a possible 30 in our last 10 games. I’m expecting a close game, as they all seem to be in this division, with the Shrimps just coming out on top in a 2-1 win. Carlos Mendes-Gomes and Cole Stockton with the goals for Morecambe.

  • Random fact about Morecambe?

Morecambe FC are currently celebrating their centenary year, having been formed in 1920. During that time the club holds the extremely rare distinction of having never been relegated. Comedian Eric Bartholomew, more commonly known as Eric Morecambe, was born in the town and used it as his stage name (sounds better than Bartholomew & Wise I suppose). Although known as an avid Luton Town supporter, he was also a fan of the Shrimps – and was president of the club for the 1970-71 season.

  • Proudest moment as a fan?

It has to be watching the club gain promotion to the Football League in 2007 at the ‘new’ Wembley Stadium. The Shrimps were a conference side when I first started watching them in the mid-90’s, and developed gradually from a part-time team into a full-time professional outfit that became one of the best sides in non-league. Achieving promotion and becoming a Football League club had always been the clubs stated ambition, and it was great to finally do that and be part of it. It was extra special that promotion happened at Wembley, which had not long been open following the venue’s redevelopment, and such a great occasion for the town. Suddenly the previous play-off semi-final defeats/heartaches that saw us miss out on play-off finals at Stoke City and Leicester City didn’t seem to matter.

  • What is your opinion on Rovers?

When I was growing up Tranmere were a side in what is now the Championship under player-manager John Aldridge. I remember them getting to the play-offs and League Cup finals, so I couldn’t quite believe it when they dropped out of the Football League entirely. It seems that the club is either up or down most years – which must be exciting in a way….Speaking as a Morecambe fan who are currently the longest serving continuous members of League Two. Looking at Rovers recent form, this could be an ‘up’ season, so we’ll have to be at our very best to get a result on Saturday.

  • Given that Cole Stockton came through the Tranmere academy and featured many times, including starring in the national league playoffs of 2017, what are your thoughts on him?

Cole is in his second spell at Morecambe, where he seems to have played his best football to date. He is not the most prolific striker – but he plays well for us, and is pivotal to how we play. He does the hard yards as the lone striker, holding the ball up for the midfield runners, and getting stuck in to opposition defenders – generally making life horrible for them. I’m surprised it hasn’t really worked out for him at other clubs yet, but for me he has all the right attributes to do well and he is continuing to develop – he just needs to add a few more goals to his game…. starting on Saturday against his old club!

  • Tranmere academy graduate Cole Stockton, who now plays his football at Morecambe F.C may be able to cause a problem or two to his former club’s defence this coming weekend if played.

I would like to thank Stuart @Stu_Rob_Rae for his time answering the questions that I placed towards him. This league encounter should be an interesting occasion and I hope that readers enjoyed this Q+A.

Thank you very much for reading,

Stay safe,

Ethan Hoijord.

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