Manager Jim Shirley has had to resign for genuine family reasons, and on reflection his co-manager Kev Dally felt the already overlarge personal, coaching and administrative burden was too great.
Jim and Kev not only brought their sporting acumen and connections, they brought business contacts whose sponsorship kept the club afloat in recent years. The largesse of people outside the club is not a sustainable basis for a business plan, and the funding is simply not there for another season. Despite our best efforts, the football committee has long since slimmed to just four members.
Our club suffered when it moved from the centre of town to its farthest edge 12 years ago. Attendances have been half the divisional average. The lack of investment at Altcar Road compounded matters.
Whilst Burscough have been welcoming and generous hosts, groundsharing is rarely a long-term option for a club. Financially, revenue from hiring out your facilities and sponsorship is cut off, whilst outgoings escalate as the cost of renting the ground must be met. Organisationally, the club is amputated from its roots, far from its home town, attendances dwindle and the junior clubs become untenable. Two years ago we ran ten teams. This season we had just the one.
This sad turn of events comes on the back of a period of great promise. After considerable turmoil, 2011 saw a rebirth with a clean sweep of personnel throughout the club, most notably the appointment to the first team of youth team managers Jim and Kev. Their ethos of enthusiasm and integrity didn’t merely rescue a club in dire straits, it completely reinvigorated it. They didn’t just defy the adversity that beset the club, they produced as fine a group of players as has ever marched out in Squirrels shirts, whose talent and team spirit made games a joy to watch.
2012-13 was the best of the club’s 93 seasons. The season that has just ended sustained that success. The first automatic promotion since 1933. League and cup honours in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1949, and only the second time ever. The longest ever unbeaten run of league games – 21, well over half the season.
With two spectacular years of fine football, this sudden shock stings all the more. But it also leaves us with bright, proud memories and the chance to wrap up matters with fairness, integrity and transparency for everyone involved. Other failing clubs, their supporters and creditors, have not been so lucky.
Twenty years ago our esteemed neighbours Stantondale had consistently strong results and lifted the First Division Trophy that we won a month ago. But despite their might they foundered and, on losing their Orrell Lane ground, came and shared Brows Lane with us. They limped on for two years before folding.
It breaks our hearts to follow that same route, winning on the pitch but losing in the paperwork and bank account, and removing another pillar from the great footballing region of Merseyside.
We have been part of the town of Formby for 94 years, since it was a semi-rural village with a fraction of its present population. A town of our size should be able to support a team in the English football pyramid. But as things stand, that cannot be this club today.
We thank all the supporters, volunteers, players, managers and other staff who have worked so hard over the years to create and maintain Formby FC. And especially, we thank Jim Shirley and Kev Dally.