Morecambe FC

Historic win lifts Shrimps into uncharted waters

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

A historic win at Wembley in May 2021 lifted Morecambe FC into League One, 14 years after another play-off  triumph ended nearly nine decades of non-league obscurity.

On that Sunday in May 2007, a Morecambe side captained by later long-term manager Jim Bentley reversed a 1-0 scoreline to beat Exeter 2-1 in front of 40,000 spectators. Circumstances more than a decade later dictated that only a quarter of that crowd witnessed Morecambe’s tight 1-0 win over Newport, but the significance was not lost on Shrimps fans.

With a first promotion to the Football League in 2007 came the construction of a new stadium, the Globe Arena, now the Mazuma Stadium, Morecambe bidding farewell to their home since 1921, Christie Park.

Mazuma Stadium/Tony Dawber

A finely appointed ground set on the main road into this venerable resort, Christie Park had seen decent crowds but little success for the Shrimps, nicknamed after the distinctive local delicacy harvested from the surrounding bay.

First a member of the then-mighty Lancashire Combination, Morecambe joined the newly formed Northern Premier League in 1968, their improving fortunes peaking with a 1974 FA Trophy win over Dartford at Wembley.

Over 20 barren years Morecambe battled away in this windswept footballing outpost, their loyal if lowly following occasionally rewarded with minor improvements to Christie Park. In 1994-95, despite losing out on a promotion place from the Northern Premier, the Shrimps leapfrogged over league winners Marine, whose Merseyside ground was deemed unsuitable for the fifth-flight Conference.

A player-manager midfielder in their promotion-winning season, Lurgan-born Jim Harvey stayed on over the following decade to make Morecambe a respected force in the Conference and FA Cup.

Mazuma Stadium/Tony Dawber

Consistently challenging for a play-off place, twice reaching the third round of the cup, losing to Ipswich both times, the Shrimps were taking on a favourite for promotion in 2005-06 when Harvey suffered a heart attack on the touchline of Christie Park.

With Harvey recuperating, Morecambe drafted in his compatriot Sammy McIlroy as manager. The former Manchester United star duly led the club to the Conference play-offs, a 3-2 semi-final defeat in extra-time at Hereford. A year later, with Harvey ousted, the Shrimps went one better, a late Danny Carlton strike beating Exeter at the play-off final. After 87 years, Morecambe were non-league no longer.

Weeks later, the club unveiled plans for a new stadium as McIlroy prepared his side for their debut season in the Football League. Comfortably mid-table for two seasons, Morecambe made the play-offs in 2010, shortly before bidding farewell to Christie Park and moving into the new-build Globe Arena, a mile or so across town.

A 6-0 whitewash at Dagenham & Redbridge in the first leg of the play-off semi-final cast a shadow on the return, and final, game at Christie Park – though McIlroy raised his men for a pyrrhic 2-1 victory.

Morecambe FC tickets/Tony Dawber

Form fared little better at the Globe Arena, McIlroy bowing out after disappointing first campaign at the club’s new home.

His replacement, old boy Jim Bentley, battled manfully with slim resources to keep the Shrimps ticking over in League Two – no mean feat. On the plus side, with just three managers in more than two decades, Morecambe could teach others – local rivals Blackpool, for example – a thing or two about long-term thinking and living within your means.

In May 2018, long-term chairman Peter McGuigan sold the club on to an investment group, a few days before the Shrimps gained a vital draw at Coventry to avoid dropping out of the League. Bentley then left for Fylde, Scot Derek Adams coming in to steer the Shrimps clear of another relegation battle in 2020-21.

With young Spanish winger Carlos Mendes Gomes a regular name on the scoresheet, Adams’ men came within touching distance of automatic promotion in 2020-21 before an early red card in a frantic game with fellow challengers Bolton pushed them towards the play-offs. 

Nicking a narrow win over Tranmere in the semi-final, Morecambe faced Newport at Wembley, where contentious decisions ruled out a penalty for the Welsh side and granted one to the Shrimps in extra-time. Player of the Year Mendes Gomes duly blasted the ball straight into the middle of the net for Morecambe to make history.

Ground Guide

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

Opened in 2010, the £12 million Globe Arena is a neat ground of 6,500 capacity, more than adequate for relatively modest needs of Morecambe FC. Equipped with windshields to deal with the battering wind that sweeps off the Irish Sea a mile or so away, the imposing modern main stand, named after long-term club chairman Peter McGuigan, contains three floors of facilities and hospitality areas. Opposite, by contrast, 600 home fans can stand and watch the game on uncovered terracing, a short set of stone steps.

Both ends are covered, the home West Stand nearest the sea and East Stand for visiting supporters – also accommodated in unsegregated block A of the main stand. In 2020, it gained the new sponsors’ name of the Mazuma Stadium, although many still refer to it as the Globe.

getting there

Going to the ground – tips and timings

The stadium is a good 20min walk from Morecambe’s adjacent bus/rail terminals opposite Morrisons. From Stand 2, buses 6/6A run every 15mins (every hr evenings & Sun) to Westgate/Morecambe FC, 17min journey time.

The sat nav code for the Mazuma Stadium (perhaps referred to as the Globe Arena on older systems) is LA4 4TB. The car park at the stadium is for permit holders, players and officials but there should be plenty of street parking off Westgate, around or at Westgate Primary School (LA4 4XF) on Langridge Way a short walk from the ground.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

Tickets are distributed from the desk at the club shop (current opening hours Tue, Thur-Fri 9.30am-4.30pm, match days), by phone on 01524 411 797, online and on the day for both home and away fans.

Advance and match-day prices are the same, £20 to stand, £25 for a seat. Over-65s pay £15/£20, under-23s £10/£15, under-18s £5/£7, under-14s £3/£5.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

The club shop (current opening hours Tue, Thur-Fri 9.30am-4.30pm, match days) stocks first-team tops of red with white trim, plus second-choice black. 

Souvenirs include T-shirts celebrating the 2021 promotion with a list of 2021-22 fixtures, also reproduced on coffee mugs, plus that ever-disappearing rarity these days, pennants. Sadly no beachwear has been MFC-branded.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

Home fans gather at The William Mitchell, a large, Georgian-style pub on Westgate, with TV football, a pool table and children’s play area. Both home and away fans are welcome at the Regent Bay Holiday Park, a spacious bar that serves the caravan park but is also open to the public with no restrictions – a range of beer and food served on match days. It’s on the other side of Westgate, diagonally opposite the ground.

Most popular venue is the Hurley Flyer, a family-friendly pub directly across the car park from the stadium, welcoming all fans. Named after the Morecambe-based first hovercraft lifeboat, it offers an extensive menu, plus BrewDog, Moretti and Peroni among the beer choices.

For a pre-match meal away from the crowds, the Toby Carvery by the roundabout at the junction of Lancaster Road is a spacious chain eatery a 15min walk to the ground.