OPPOSITION FOCUS: MARINE AFC

29 Feb 2024 | Latest News

The Silkmen are back in league action at the Leasing.com Stadium this Saturday as fellow play-off rivals Marine visit. 

Michael Clegg takes charge of his first game after Saturday’s postponement at Atherton Collieries.

We take a closer look at The Mariners.

HISTORY

The club was formed in 1894 by a group of local businessmen and former college students, taking its name from the Marine Hotel close to the River Mersey sea front at Waterloo, seven miles to the north of Liverpool, where the founders met. They moved to their present ground The Marine Travel Arena (formerly known as Rossett Park) in 1903.

Marine quickly made an impression on local football, winning numerous titles in the I Zingari League and the Liverpool Combination. Their greatest success as an amateur team in this period culminated in an FA Amateur Cup Final appearance in 1931/32, when they lost 7–1 to Dulwich Hamlet in front of a 22,000 crowd at West Ham United. In 1946 they went close again by reaching the semi-final.  In 1935/36 they moved to the all-professional Lancashire Combination and enjoyed limited success before moving to the Cheshire County League in 1969/70. In 1972 Roly Howard was appointed first team manager and completed 1,975 competitive games over a 33 year period before retiring at the end of the 2004/05 season. He was recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the longest serving manager in world football as Marine enjoyed its most successful period winning some 30 trophies.

The Club relinquished its amateur status and became professional in 1974. Three Cheshire League Championships were won in five seasons before progressing to the Northern Premier League in 1979/80. They have twice been Champions (1993/94 and 1994/95) as well as twice being runners-up and have won the League Cup on four occasions (1984/85, 1991/92, 2002/03 and 2015/16) which is a league record.

In more recent times, the club have had a number of managers including Alvin McDonald (2005-2009), Kevin Lynch (2009-2013), Phil Brazier (2013-2014), Carl Macauley (2014-2015), Sean Hessey (2015-2017) and Tommy Lawson (2017-2018). Alvin qualified for the UniBond Premier play-offs in two seasons, losing to the eventual winners on both occasions. Kevin Lynch narrowly missed out on a play off place during his reign and Phil Brazier enjoyed his first season of football management. In February 2015, following a disappointing run of results, Carl Macauley left the club and defender Sean Hessey took over team affairs as caretaker manager. In Sean’s final 12 games in charge of the season, the club escaped relegation by losing 1, drawing 5 and winning 6 matches and were handed a reprieve, following the demise of Salisbury City. In February 2017, the club parted company with Sean Hessey following a poor run of results, the increasing threat of relegation and poor discipline on the pitch. With just a few weeks of the 2016/2017 season remaining, former Skelmersdale United manager Tommy Lawson was appointed as manager. In 2017/2018, his first full season in charge, Tommy and his team reached the Second Round proper of the FA Trophy losing away to Dover and also reached the Liverpool Senior Cup Final for the first time in a decade. Tommy Lawson resigned as manager in September 2018 with experienced and successful manager Neil Young being appointed as manager, assisted by Alan Morgan and coach Ian Johnson. In April 2019, the club were relegated for the first time in their history and competed in the Northern Premier League First Division North West in their 125th Anniversary year, which was cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 with the Mariners in a play-off position.

Season 2020/2021 will be best known for the magnificent Emirates FA Cup run which was a record breaker, having won through seven rounds beating Barnoldswick Town, Frickley Athletic, Runcorn Linnets, Nantwich Town, Chester, Colchester United and Havant & Waterlooville on the way before taking on Premier League Tottenham Hotspur at the Marine Travel Arena. Club Officials worked tirelessly to get the green light with the relevant authorities to stage the tie at home. Meanwhile the Covid-19 pandemic was still rife, and the team only played seven league games with five wins and two losses.

Ahead of the 2021/2022 season, manager Neil Young was offered a three-year contract, in a season that would see the club promoted back to the Northern Premier League Premier Division after beating Workington away in extra time in the play-off semi final and Runcorn Linnets away in the play-off final.

Marine’s best performances in the FA Cup were reaching the 3rd Round in 1992/93 (losing 1-3 to Crewe Alexandra) and in 2020/21 (losing at home 0-5 to Tottenham Hotspur, with the game being broadcast live on BBC Match of the Day and watched by a record nearly 40 million viewers worldwide). Marine have also achieved eleven First Round and two Second Round appearances in the FA Cup and have beaten three Football League Clubs (Barnsley, Halifax Town and Colchester United) in the competition. Marine have twice reached the semi-finals of the FA Trophy in 1983/84 and 1991/92 and have been winners of 14 senior county cups. Marine have won the Liverpool Senior Cup eight times and the Lancashire Challenge Trophy three times.

The 2022/23 season ended in a 9th place finish in the club’s first season back in the NPL Premier Division, with a crippling injury list eventually catching up with the squad after being in contention for the play offs until the final weeks of the campaign. The FA Cup saw a 2nd Qualifying Round exit at Stocksbridge Park Steels but progress was made in the FA Trophy, the Mariners overcoming Radcliffe, Basford United and Scarborough Athletic before exiting in the Third Round Proper at Marske United.

CURRENT FORM 

Marine currently sit top of the league’s form table after an impressive run of form. Last time out, The Mariners won 4-0 at the Marine Travel Arena against Bradford Park Avenue where a Bobby Grant brace contributed towards the victory. A high scoring encounter away to league leaders Radcliffe saw Marine pick up their only defeat in their last five in a 3-2 defeat.

The Mariners drew away at Ilkeston Town after coming from behind with 20 minutes to go through a Sol Solomon goal. Back to back victories preceded this with an away victory at FC United of Manchester and an impressive, late comeback victory against fellow play off rivals Worksop Town.

ONE TO WATCH

FINLAY SINCLAIR-SMITH

Finlay Sinclair Smith is one to watch for The Mariners.

The centre forward has 20 goals so far this season in all competitions and scored in the reverse fixture back in October.

PREVIOUS MEETING

The last time the sides met was back in October. The Silkmen came out 2-1 winners at The Marine Travel Arena thanks to goals from John Rooney and Tre Pemberton and managed to hold on despite late pressure from Marine thanks to a goal from Sinclair-Smith.

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