Their success may not be rewarded with an exhibition match against La Liga giants Real Madrid, but Nelson FC boss Mark Fell is determined to bring the glory days back to the club.
Back in 1923, after being crowned Third Division North champions, the Admirals embarked on an overseas tour of Spain where they beat Real Oviedo 2-1 and Madrid 4-2.
A repeat of that prestige is unlikely, but that won’t dampen celebrations should the club win its first league title since Anfield legend Joe Fagan was in charge during the 1951/52 Lancashire Combinations championship campaign.
And that’s not all. With a League Challenge Cup quarter-final against Holker Old Boys scheduled to take place at Victoria Park on Saturday, kick-off 3 p.m., the Blues could be set for an unprecedented haul of silverware.
“The League Cup was the last piece of silverware the club won in 1996,” said Fell. “That was 17 years ago. And it’s 56 years since Nelson Football Club won a league title which was the old Lancashire Combinations league.
“A cup win could provide the spring board for success in the league. It’s a great opportunity for us to win something. There won’t be many changes to the starting XI as we want to go in to the game strong and with that continuity.”
With more than 100 goals to date this term in all competitions, and with the club heading the North West Counties First Division with 11 games remaining, a trip to “Little Wembley” should prove an attractive proposition for local football fans. However, while many of the town’s older generation remember the club’s golden era, Fell admits there’s an alarmingly high number of people unaware of Nelson’s re-emergence.
“Nelson is a football club that had fallen in to a horrible state in a position at the bottom end of the semi-professional pyramid,” Fell said. “We want to resurrect the club as we are very ambitious.
“This club is bigger than what its league standing suggests and has the most decorated history of any clubs at this level and the tiers above. We’ve got a duty to the town to put this club back on the map.”
Fell added: “The gates are steadily increasing and we want the town’s population to come down and support the club. We want to provide the right environment and bring the success that will make them want to do that.
“A league and cup double would certainly go some way in helping us achieve that. It would create a good amount of coverage and publicity. We want to break back in to the Premier Division and see where we can go from there.”