Friday, 21 November 2008

Wigan Robins, Ghandi, Blancmange and Darwen

The one on the left is from Darwen. I can't tell if he has six fingers on each hand but you'd guess he has...

The following is a simple cut and paste from the Darwen website.

Done simply to show the magnitude of the opponents (and the history therein) that the Robins come up against tomorrow

Founded in 1875, when Association Rules were adopted, Darwen F.C. can trace its history back to 1870 when the rugby code was played at Lynwood. Having set up headquarters at Barley Bank in 1878 Darwen signed Fergus Suter and James Love from Partick Thistle, these two being the first of an influx of Scottish players into English Football and the first “paid professionals” in the game.

During this same year experiments with floodlights were being carried out. Darwen were the first northern club to achieve prominence in the F.A. Cup, reaching the quarter-finals in 1878-79 and the semi-finals in 1880-81. On the way to this semi-final they defeated Romford 15-0 in the Quarter-final. In 1880 they defeated Blackburn Rovers 3-0 to win the Lancashire Cup.

The club competed in the Football Alliance until they were elected to the Football League in 1891. On the 4th March 1892 they entered the History books for suffering the heaviest defeat in the Football League when they lost 12-0 to West Bromwich Albion. This still remains the record defeat for a club in Division 1. Needless to say they finished bottom with just 11 points, and became one of the founder members of the second division. Having finished in third place in the 1892-93 season promotion back to Division 1 came after defeating Notts County 3-2 in a test match. (These test matches were the equivalent of the modern day play-offs).

This promotion lasted only one season and they were relegated back to Division Two. In season 1896/97 they achieved their highest league win, beating Walsall 12-0, and also set a record of going the whole season without registering a single draw. This feat has never been repeated in the history of the Football League.

In the early days, Darwen played in several combinations of black and white stripes or hoops with dark blue or white shirts, but during their first two seasons in the Football League they played in salmon and pink shirts, which gave them their alternate nickname of “The Salmoners”.

Darwen remained in the Second Division until 1899 when they were not re-elected. During this season they again entered the history books - for the most goals scored against during a season (141 goals in 34 games), and losing 18 consecutive league matches.

In the summer of 1899 the club moved to it’s present home at the Anchor Ground. They joined the Lancashire League in 1899, winning the title in 1901/02 after going unbeaten all season; they then switched to the Lancashire Combination.

The early 1930s saw the next “golden age” of Darwen Football Club. Wearing a striking new strip of red and white striped shirts, the club won 5 trophies in the three years from 1930 to 1933, including the Lancashire Combination title twice in a row in 1931 and 1932. In the 1931/32 season FA Cup, they beat Football League side Chester in front of a 10,000 crowd at the Anchor Ground and were rewarded with an away draw at reigning league champions Arsenal in the 3rd round.

Darwen’s part-timers lost the game 11-1 but their share of the gate receipts from a crowd of over 35,000 helped to pay for a new stand behind the Darwen End goal which has only fairly recently been demolished. After this match, Arsenal were so impressed with Lancashire sportsmanship that they presented their visitors with a set of their own red strip, which Darwen have worn more or less ever since.

The golden 1930s team gradually broke up and Darwen FC began to struggle financially. Throughout the 1950s and 60s they battled on in the Combination achieving little success. The committee structure of player selection, allied with the lack of discernable tactics adding to Darwen's usual financial woes.

Then in 1972, the club merged with a Manchester League side called Clarence Athletic. This brought the turnaround of Darwen’s fortunes and they won the Combination title again in 1973 and 1975. This success was followed by an uninspiring period in the higher standing Cheshire County League from 1975-82 before Darwen became one of the founder of the North West Counties League in 1982.

And they've been there ever since and tomorrow WRP travel to the Anchor Ground to take on 11th placed Darwen. Again they look like a team that lets in the odd goal or 36 so it could be a good one.

After a couple of frustrating weeks after the fine 3-3 draw with Bacup the Robins and their fans have been sat on their backsides after that disease of waterlogged pitch caught up with them at home to AFC Blackpool and in the replay at Bacup. Not sure how waterlogged the WRP arena was, mind. It didn't look too bad on Sunday morning when I walked past but that bloody River Duggie don't half get in the way. There didn't seem to be a very Olympian effort (insert winky thing) by the staff down there to get pitch sorted - ask me in the pub...

Anyroad it seems ages since Ryan Small got a hat trick - and after the dross served up on the adjacent JJB earlier he proved without that he was the best midfielder in Wigan that day - so it will be good to get back there.

I've been to Darwen ages back watching Latics and I can't remember a thing about it. One game there saw Tony Mac come back from a ban (for playing Sunday football) and bagged SEVEN goals in an 11-2 win (or summat like that. And if that was the game I was at and I've forgotten that then more beers past my lips since then than I thought had.

And I'm sure there might be a few more beers consumed on Saturday as there appears to be at least 21 pubs less than a mile from the station (inc. seven within 400 yards or so from the station).

We'll never get to the ground! But if we do there appears to be a decent little clubhouse there and according to the good old Non-League Club Directory room for 4,000, 250 seats and cover for 2,000. Other than that I've not a clue but good old google tells me that Gandhi once visited a mill there back in 1931 and the lead singer of 80s band Blancmange, Neil Arthur is from there.

So all together now:

"You keep me running round and round
Well, that's alright with me
Nothing, nothing, nothing's going to step in my way
Living on the ceiling, no more room down there
Things fall into place, you get the joke, fall into place..."

"We're on the march with Neafcy's Army,
We're all going down t'mill.."

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