“No Battle, No Victory” The Death and Rebirths of Scarborough FC

Posted on March 19, 2011 by





One of the UK’s most well loved holiday resorts is the resort town of Scarborough on the Yorkshire coast, home to roughly 50,000 people.  It has a lot going for it, a growing digital and creative economy, major transport links to the likes of Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and York.  Scarborough is one of the UK’s ‘renaissance’ town’s, having been granted government support to secure a vibrant future for the area.

Many renovation projects are underway in the area for the upkeep of old Victorian building’s and the development of new contemporary buildings.  It’s also been awarded on a European stage for the most creative and inspiring entrepeneurship initiative’s on the continent.  So why then, has a town well known across the country and is seemingly on the crest of a wave among all the talk of a global economic crisis not got a football team?  Well they did…

Scarborough Football Club were formed on the 20th of June 1879 and lasted 128 years before being wound-up by the high court on the 20th of June 2007.  ‘The Seadogs’ won the FA Trophy three times at the Old Wembley in a period that was seen as the golden era for the team, defeating Wigan, Stafford Rangers and Dagenham to land the trophies.  Amazingly, they also took part in the Anglo-Italian cup twice, defeating Udinese 4-0 and Parma 2-0 the following year.

In 1987 Scarborough FC made football history by becoming the first team to ever win automatic promotion to the football league, winning the conference in 1987 under new manager Neil Warnock (Yes it’s the one your thinking of) and stayed in the football league until one of the most bizarre’s moments in football history happened.

On the 8th of May 1999, Carlisle needed to win to avoid relegation from the English Third Division and send Scarbrough down to the non-league Conference.  Scarborough started the day a point above Carlisle and as full-time rang out at Scarborough’s McCainn stadium fans invaded the pitch as they had earned a 1-1 draw which at the time was enough to save the Seadog’s, Carlisle were also locked on the same scoreline.  But with ten seconds remaining Carlisle won a corner.  The ball was swept into the area and after a save from a header the ball just happened to fall to Carlisle’s on-loan goakeeper Jimmy Glass, who volleyed home from three yards to spark wild celebrations from the whole of Carlisle….

Jimmy Glass' last minute winner sends Scarborough down

Carlisle had been dogged for years with the threat of going out the football league meaning extinction for the club, the ironic thing is that by scoring that goal, Jimmy Glass, now a taxi driver, started the long road to extinction for Scarborough’s only football club.

It was Scarbrough’s first ever releagation but certainly not their last as they found their way down to the Northern Premier League, England’s seventh tier of football, but before they could even begin to think about playing, Scarborough were wound-up before the fixtures were even announced.  The club’s debt of £2.5million due to poor financial mis-management finally caught up with them, and not even an ambitious move to sell their ground for housing development could save them.  A supporters club called the ‘Seadog Trust’ tried to convince the council that by selling the McCain stadium to a housing developer they could wipe out the debt and build a brand new stadium for the club.  The council dismissed this effort and gave the club a stay of execution on the 12th of June 2006, however 8 days later, the high court found no reason to keep the club alive and so the 128 year history of Scarborough FC was over.

The end had been in sight for a while and even when proposing their idea of selling the ground the Seadog Trust had applied for a new team to be introduced to the Northern Counties East League, Scarborough Athletic FC.  The McCain stadium (named after the local chip company) has been left disused since the club’s demise in 2006, Scarborough Athletic, based in near by Bridlington,  have indicated an interest in taking over the ‘Theatre of Chips’, which has been around since 1898, one of the oldest stadiums in the country.


Scarborough Athletic score their first ever league goal

But Athletic aren’t the only team to rise from the ashes of Scarborough FC.  The old club had a very prosperous youth set-up going from Under 12’s right up to Under 19’s and with the help of the old youth coaches working for free and Sheffield United the youth team’s managed to continue and now form Scarborough Town FC.

Both team’s have taken on the history of Scarborough FC and are trying to learn from past mistakes, it would be a shame in such a promising town that it would fail to have a decent football club, it seem’s that in the ashes of one of English football’s oldest names, they will have two phoenix’s rising.

Posted in: Europe