Ninety years ago, Northern Lancashire had a wealth of teams playing in the Football Leagues. The powerhouses of Preston North End, Burnley, Blackburn Rovers and , er Accrington Stanley fought out keen local derbies. All four of these sides are today still doing battle at various levels of the footballing pyramid. Some pretenders have come but all have since disappeared. The names of Darwen and Blackburn Olympic are etched in footballing history (as covered by David Hartrick in his excellent book 50 Teams that mattered) but one name that came, saw and then went again is Nelson FC.
Nelson is a small town on the edge of Burnley. It is notable for having some of the lowest house prices in the United Kingdom, where you can still buy a two bedroom terrace for less than £30,000. But for ten years the town could also boast a Football League side that went on to beat one of the biggest teams in the world.
After forty years in the Lancashire Leagues they applied to join the Football League when they announced the expansion of the divisions to accommodate the new regional third tier. They had the requisite facilities, with their Seedhill ground holding 15,000 but it was still surprisingly for many the application was successful, especially as the previous season they had only managed a 17th place finish in the Central League, and they kicked off their life as a league side on 27 August 1921 in front of 9,000 against Wigan Borough, taking the lead in the 2nd minute of the game when Billy Halligan scored, before falling to a 2-1 defeat. However just a few weeks later they gained revenge on Borough with their first ever league win, coming away from Springfield Park with a 4-1 win which saw them top the league for the one and only time that season. Continue reading