Nelson FC: 1931-1982
Feature by 'Buck' & 'The Sentinel'
Updated Tuesday, 17th May 2005
Nelson struggled on in the Lancashire Combination without winning any honours, and things became much more bleak in 1936.A big loss was incurred that season and the club disbanded on 7th August. Another club, Nelson Town, rose immediately from the ashes, and they struggled on in local leagues until ceasing activities for the Second World War.
The first title season also saw Nelson clinch the Lancashire Combination Cup to seal an historic non-league Double in what was at the time one of the premier leagues in the country outside of the Football League.
Only goal average in the season in-between had prevented an amazing three-in-a-row - goal difference would have seen the title go to Nelson - but silverware was collected as the Blues retained the Combination Cup. In those three seasons of 42 league games apiece, Nelson scored 125, 120 and 139 goals respectively.
The men at the forefront of this period of success were two young player-managers. Centre-half Bob Johnson moved from Burnley for the start of the 1949/50 season, replacing Jack Bray, and, when his contract expired, the Blues landed a young man from Manchester City, 30-year-old Joe Fagan.
The team built by "Uncle Joe" romped to the title in his first season in 1951/52, though a catalogue of injuries throughout the team scuppered a repeat in his second and final season.
During these few years of success, Nelson tried, and failed, to gain re-election to the league, and financial issues saw him leave the club in 1953. Joe was of course destined to go onto greater glory over 30 years later when leading Liverpool to a European Cup, League Championship and League Cup treble, having been part of their infamous "boot room" team since 1958.
As Fagan was beginning his long association with the Merserysiders, Nelson's fortunes were to move, quite markedly, in the opposite direction. A third Combination Cup arrived in 1959/60, but a second place finish in 1960/61 was to be the nearest they came to winning the Combination title again.
A third place was collected in the final season of that League in 1981/82 - which by this time had lost much of its former quality and status - before the restructuring of the non-league pyramid.