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Bless 'em

Guest smoggeordie

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Guest smoggeordie

Lancaster chairman Mick Hoyle has something to say to teams like Watford and West Ham who are fretting about being mired in the Premiership drop zone.


"They want to know how it is down here," laughed Hoyle, whose side prop up the Conference North with zero points.


That's right - after playing 39 games, Lancaster do not have a single point to their name and are 41 points adrift of second-from-bottom Scarborough.


It is not because Lancaster are non-League whipping boys as such, in fact early-season form led to the Dolly Blues winning two games and draw three.


But in December the club went into administration, the league punished them by deducting 10 points and Lancaster were effectively relegated last month.


Now, the main priority of Hoyle and his hotchpotch of amateurs is to get the first point back on the board in the remaining three games.


Conference North Last updated: 14 April 2007


Redditch 38 11 12 15 59 61 -2 45

Leigh RMI 40 12 9 19 44 59 -15 45

Worksop 39 12 9 18 43 58 -15 45

Scarborough 40 12 15 13 48 44 +4 41

Lancaster City 39 02 04 33 26 -102 -76 0


"Zero makes us look as though we have lost every game this season but we haven't," Hoyle told BBC Sport.


"When I took over, we had nine points but all the players left because we couldn't afford to pay them.


"We brought local boys in and they picked up a point - that would have taken us to 10 but with the deduction we are on zero.


"We would like to finish in the plus points and morale is good and spirits are high.


"All the lads were playing in the local Lancaster and Morecambe leagues but now they have the chance to play for their home town.


"They are lacking in strength and a bit of confidence but they go out there with a great sense of pride to make sure we pick up some points."


Hoyle's quest to take Lancaster from zeroes back to local heroes is the final twist in a season jam-packed full of drama for the north-west club.


The club's owners failed to make transfer payments to Crewe Alexandra and Moor Green, plus Football Association fees, including a bill for 100 footballs, which resulted in the league slapping a transfer embargo on the club.


Several players and staff then walked out because of a pay dispute and in October manager Gary Finley left the Giant Axe for Southport.


The bailiffs had even changed the locks at the club's Dolly Blues Tavern before an emergency shareholders' meeting resulted in owner Charlie Moore being ousted in a vote of no confidence and Hoyle elected as chairman in November.


This is my home town and Lancaster is the first result I look for - I want to make sure it still is in the future


Hoyle, who left the club eight years ago after a successful spell as manager, and the non-executive board put an immediate stop to the club's spending spree and eventually placed the club into administration.


"We released our big stars and those on higher wages and went out and got players from the local leagues," said Hoyle.


"We just pay the players' basic petrol expenses to get to the games, so we have gone from a club with wages of £5,000 to £500.


"I brought back local legend Barrie Stimpson, who was my captain when I was manager, to manage the team.



Top flight: 15 by Sunderland 2005-06

Second tier: 8 Doncaster (1904-05)

Loughborough (1899-1900)

Third tier: 11 Rochdale (1931-32)

Fourth tier: 19 Workington (1976-77)

Fifth tier: 19 Redditch (1979-80, Alliance Premier)

Leigh RMI (2004-05, Conference)


"We are just making the football club survive until the end of the season, running it out of our own pockets and whatever income we can get."


Hoyle plans to set up a new company to run the club on 1 May.

Lancaster have already applied to join the Unibond League and North West Counties Football League next season and will find out if their application has been successful in early June.


With wages at a minimum and transfer cash non-existent, Hoyle's scheme is to extend further into the local community by recruiting some players from Lancaster University.


"We will keep going," said Hoyle. "We need non-League football in this country.


"A lot of people in Lancaster want the club to survive and that is why we are all working hard to make it work.


"The bottom line is that this is my home town and Lancaster is the first result I look for - I want to make sure it still is in the future."




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