Nelson celebrate historic title triumph after stunning season

The Blues beat AFC Darwen 3-1 on Bank Holiday Monday to seal the North West Counties First Division championship at the Anchor Ground.
The Blues beat AFC Darwen 3-1 on Bank Holiday Monday to seal the North West Counties First Division championship at the Anchor Ground.
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Nelson FC boss Mark Fell spoke of his pride after becoming the first manager to win a title at the club since the legendary Joe Fagan a staggering 62 years ago.

The Blues beat AFC Darwen 3-1 on Bank Holiday Monday to seal the North West Counties First Division championship at the Anchor Ground.

Joe O’Neil scored a first half brace to give the Admirals the initiative while Liam Boswell scored in stoppage time after Kieran Wood had pulled a goal back for the home side.

“It was a magnificent day,” beamed Fell. “It was wonderful. It’s one of those days neither myself or the players will ever forget, no matter what level of football they go on to play. Winning a league takes phenomenal effort.

“It’s a great achievement. You’ve got to be consistently better than everybody else so it’s deserved. Although it was a shame we couldn’t do it at Victoria Park, it was nice to do it against Darwen because they’re our only rivals in the division from East Lancashire.”

It was the 1951/52 campaign when Fagan guided the Blues to the Lancashire Combinations title, beating Lancaster City to the crown. The club scored 139 goals in the league that term - just eight more than Fell’s current crop who played their final game of the campaign last night.

And, though the statistic is unconfirmed, it’s believed that the class of 2013/14 has broken a club record that was previously set by Fagan’s side.

Ahead of the fixture with Rochdale Town at Mayfield Sports Centre, Fell said: “We’ve won 13 games on the bounce. As far as I know - and I’ve spoke to many people involved with the club - Nelson FC has never done that in its history. I believe there was 12 games in a row under Joe Fagan so to do that in such a competitive league is fantastic.”

He added: “It’s been an unbelievable experience. It’s been tough, a lot of hard work and graft but I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve got a great backroom staff which is very important because you can get lost really easily in non-league management. I have good people around me that I can bounce ideas off and they give you a different perspective on things.”

Fell believes that Nelson FC’s affiliation with a prodigious character such as Fagan also speaks volumes of the club’s rich history. Fagan worked with Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley at Liverpool prior to earning a status of immortality at Anfield by landing an unprecedented treble with the capture of the European Cup, League Championship and League Cup in 1983/84.

Now Fell - in his first full season of management after parting with East Lancs Second Division outfit Whinney Hill - wants to honour past tradition by pushing the club up England’s football pyramid.

“This is my first full season in management so it’s a great personal achievement for me and to follow on from a man like Joe Fagan is incredible,” he said.

“The football club has got a rich history and to have a manager like Joe Fagan affiliated with the club says a lot. Nobody else can boast that kind of history. Our rivals might be doing better than us at the moment but we want to address that and take the club back to where it should be.”

The Admirals will now join rivals Colne and Barnoldswick Town in the North West Counties Premier Division where they last featured in the 2009/10 term, culminating the season in 17th position.

However, the club resigned from the league for the following season and returned to the country’s 10th tier for the 2011/12 campaign where they registered a 15th place finish under boss Paul Paynter.

Meanwhile, Fell already has pre-season fixtures planned with AFC Fylde and League Two Accrington Stanley on the agenda. Fell is also hopeful of scheduling a friendly with Premier League newcomers Burnley’s Development Squad.