Mellor Amateur Football Club currently runs four open age teams, playing on Saturday afternoons. It was founded in 1923 in Mellor, Stockport, Cheshire by members of the Hambleton family.
Its home for many years was Brabyns Park, Marple. In the early nineties, following lengthy negotiations by the committee, the club became part of the Ridge Sports Association, a three-way link-up between Mellor AFC, Marple Rugby Club and the Ridge Sixth Form College. Home games are now played on a private pitch at Wood Lane, Marple.
Initially the team changed at the Buxton Lane site of the Ridge College. But in the summer of 2000 a 12-year dream was finally realised with the construction of a new £267,000 pitchside clubhouse and changing room complex at Wood Lane, to be shared with the college and the rugby club. To celebrate its opening, the club staged a friendly match against a Manchester City veterans X1, with two goals from John Cosgrove securing a 2-1 win for Mellor.
In a league of their own
The 'Golden Era'
In 1991-92 its third team won the Division E championship. In 1998-99 the first team reached the semi-final of the prestigious Stockport Senior Cup, the furthest Mellor had ever progressed in that competition until that date. Ironically, the season also saw the club almost fold. Managers were struggling to find quality players who could be relied upon to play every week.
The idea was conceived of a merger with Romiley Friendship,
a relatively new club playing in the Stockport League but with ambitions
to enter the L&C. Given the club's history the committee naturally
wanted to retain the name Mellor and after lengthy discussions with officials
of Romiley Friendship this was agreed, with the proviso that the Friendship's
name appeared on shirts and a newly designed club badge. The union was
finally agreed and initially proved a great success. But after two seasons
some ex Friendship players left to form a new club as you will read below.
In its first competitive season the team finished sixth and before the end of that first season had moved its base from the Stockdove pub in Romiley to the Friendship, where the landlady Ann Phillips seemed more interested in its fortunes.
The second season witnessed a major change in personnel. Pressure of business forced Stewart Kelly to withdraw from the running of the club and he was replaced by player and assistant manager Paul Andrews. Only four of the players from the first season wore the Friendship's colours in its second year. The side was stronger and more skilful but still only managed sixth position in the division.
The following season, in a restructuring of the league, the Friendship competed in Division Two and finished third, having led the table at one stage. Phil's backroom team was strengthened by the arrival of Thomas Hood, whose son Grant played in the side. Phil's other son Ben, then 16, appeared as a substitute for the Friendship.
Following an approach by Roy Conner, manager of Mellor's experimental under-17s, whose son played for the Friendship, the possibility of a merger with Mellor was discussed early in 1999. After meetings, the deal was agreed before the end of the 1998-99 season.
Sadly the marriage did not last. Halfway through season 2000-2001 Phil Norbury stood down as first team manager citing pressure of work. Stuart Thorley became player manager and results immediately began to improve. At the end of the season a number of former Friendship players left Mellor to form a new club calling itself Govan Athletic, a reference to the birthplace of Sir Alex Ferguson. However a significant number of ex Friendship players stayed. The merger undoubtedly saved Mellor and gave the club a new lease of life.
Govan Athletic eventually joined the Lancashire and Cheshire League in 2002-2003 season. Mellor FC defeated them both home and away in two very tense and emotional matches.
At the end of that season Mellor FC finished runners-up in Division Three and were duly promoted to Division Two. We also appeared in the Stockport Senior Cup Final at Edgeley Park, for the first time in the club's history.
The final was player manager Stuart Thorley's last game in charge. He stepped down at the end of the season to be replaced by Simon Dalby, formerly with Poynton.
Simon took the club into the Premier Division in his first season in charge by finishing runners-up in Division Two. Mellor also again reached the final of the Stockport Senior Cup, this time losing 3-1 to Hazel Grove. The following season he steered the club to a Stockport Senior Cup Final success 2-0 over Spurley Hey. In his third and final season in charge Simon achieved Mellor's highest ever Lancashire and Cheshire League position, second in the Premiership behind Heaton Mersey.
The Alan Whelan era
Work commitments meant Si Dalby had to stand down as manager for the 2006-07 season. He was replaced by Alan Whelan and Steve Hutchinson. The side began with three wins out of four. But a string of defeats from November to the end of February saw Mellor fighting relegation. The rot was stopped thanks to an Alex Young goal against Newton Heath (who were eventually relegated) in a nail biting game in March. Four further wins saw Mellor finish eighth.
At the end of the season Alan and Steve moved on to manage Stockport Georgians and Mellor again needed a First Team manager. The committee decided to appoint Pete Jamieson who had run the Seconds, finishing sixth that year in Division A. A bad start to the campaign, coupled with the loss through illness of centre back Mark Oldham meant that the team struggled. Through November and January it again found itself in a relegation battle. Ironically, the side enjoyed a wonderful run in the Cheshire Amateur Cup, only losing to Cammell Laird in the quarter final. In the league confidence returned after a 5-0 thrashing of relegation candidates South Manchester and Mellor began climbing to safety. In the end Mellor had risen to a commendable mid table position. In 2008-09 Mellor had its best ever chance to win the Lancashire & Cheshire League. Wins in the final two games of the season would have clinched the club's first ever Premiership title. But the Firsts lost both games and finished third, four points behind winners Whalley Range. Disappointed, manager Pete Jamieson decided to quit and the club appointed Stu Cumpsty as First Team manager for 2009-10 season. The Third Team lifted the Whitehead Cup beating Chorltonians in the final 1-0.
Stu Cumpsty ran Mellor First Team for the 2009-10 season. He got off to a poor start losing his first two matches. The side gained an away victory 4-2 in a thrilling night game against rivals Govan. But two further defeats followed. The team then chalked up five consecutive victories. By the end of October we were top of the league. The team was bolstered by new signings like Jono Hunt and Danny Leibrick. But the good form was not sustained and Mellor conceded goals in all 17 of its fixtures from December onwards. Mellor rallied in the last three games, however, to finish sixth. There was joy for the Seconds who won the Wray Cup in thrilling fashion, without conceding a goal (except in a semi final penalty shoot out). The side were massive underdogs in the final against Chorltonians but won 3-0. In the close season Stu Cumpsty was approached to take over Woodley Reserves. He decided to take the job and Si Dalby returned to run the First Team in 2010-11.
Si Dalby's second spell in charge at Mellor saw him inherit a good squad of players, blending youth and experience. Mellor lost only one of its first eight games, 4-3 away to Bedians, with a side ravaged by injuries and absentees. Govan were put to the sword 5-1 in October. Whalley Range were held away but proved too strong at Wood lane, winning 3-0. Si then suffered health and business problems and took a few weeks off. caretaker manager Phil McGreal promptly won his first four games in charge, including two stand out results a 3-1 home win over Rochdalians and a 6-0 drubbing of Old Trafford also at Wood Lane.
Si eventually returned and Mellor finished the 2010-11 campaign in third spot behind Whalley Range and Cheadle Hulme Villa.
Si was in charge for the 2011-12 season which started badly with three defeats in the first four league fixtures, largely due to players being away, injured or unavailable. As the season progressed Mellor became stronger and went on a run of eight league games unbeaten. There was also joy in the Rhodes Cup as Mellor put out title favourites Whalley Range 3-2 at Wood Lane. Mellor lost to Cheadle Hulme Villa in the Stockport Senior Cup but made progress in the Rhodes Cup beating Old Trafford 5-2 in a thrilling semi-final. In the league a good run ended with two consecutive defeats in March which derailed Mellor's bid for a tilt at the title. This was quickly followed by three crushing defeats against championship chasing Cheadle Hulme Villa and the eventual winners Whalley Range (twice).
By the night of the Rhodes Cup Final Mellor were destined to finish no higher than fourth. The club eventually finished sixth. Omens for the Rhodes Cup looked bleak. Our opponents Cheadle Hulme Villa had beaten Mellor three times during the season.
However, the game was played at Mellor's lucky ground - Trafford FC, scene of three previous Cup Final wins. And on the night the Footballing Gods again smiled on Mellor who produced a wonderful display to deservedly win an enthralling and good spirited match 3-2, with goals from Matt Jamieson (pen), Craig Frisby and Dave Whelan.
Mellor's Rhodes Cup heroes
Mellor's Third Team lifted the Division C title, making it a very succesful season.
The new pre-season started with the Thirds winning the inaugural Govan Trophy, a round robin event in which our side beat three other First teams and drew with a fourth. But in the end it was a disappointing campaign. The Firsts recorded some terrific wins against top teams beating the likes of Cheadle Hulme Villa and Chorltonians. But Mellor's assault on the title faded towards the end of the season. The Thirds' title challenge also fizzled out. Meanwhile the Seconds and Fourths were in a relegation battle for most of the season. At the end of the campaign neither was relegated due to alterations in the league structure. The big plus for the season was the integration of Mark Hanson's Juniors. Players like Bruce Clarke, Andy McFall, James Hanson and Joe Dalby stepped up to the First Team, Clarke securing a regular spot. Others like Will Parry boosted the Seconds.
Long-standing Second Team manager Alex Wharton stood down after the opening few games of the new pre-season and was replaced by Dave Moss, an ex First Team player who was a regular for the Seconds. He turned their fortunes around and the team shot up the table. Kyle Davidson took charge of the Fourths and did a similar job. The Fourths finished 8th in Division D winning 7 out of 22. The First Team won through to the final of the Stockport Senior Cup, after memorable wins against Woodford (away) and at home against Cheadle Town Reserves and Stockport Georgians Reserves. In the final they overcame the much fancied Poynton FC 2-1 with goals from Craig Fairfield and Jack Hilton in an excellent match at Edgeley Park.
Manager Si Dalby with the cup, flanked by Craig Frisby (left) and John Bellis.
Mellor, however, were unable to make it a cup double. Five days later they played in the Rhodes Cup Final at West Didsbury & Chorlton's ground against Rochdalians. Mellor took an eighth minute lead through Paul Swann. But Rochdalians hit three to win 3-1. Below is Mellor's starting eleven.
Mellor First Team began the season with four wins and one defeat in the first five matches. There were high hopes that the side could mount an assault on the league title. But a heavy defeat at AFC Oldham followed to dent aspirations. Progress was made in the Rhodes Cup and Stockport Senior Cup. In November Mellor gained revenge for the beating by AFC Oldham by scoring four without reply against them at Wood Lane. Newton were thrashed 10=0 in February. But two weeks later Mellor lost by one goal to nil against Cheadle Heath Nomads/Lynotype in the Stockport Senior Cup. Newton Heath then High Lane and finally Signol were despatched in the Rhodes Cup but Rochdalians were proving too strong for rivals in the league and a 5=1 win against Mellor helped them to the title. Mellor with 12 wins from 24 league matches were to finish fourth. The highlight of the season came on May 5th when Mellor beat Whalley Range by a single goal to lift the Rhodes Cup. Jack Beswick was the hero goalscorer. Two weeks earlier Mellor Second Team had claimed the Wray Cup after hammering Newton Reserves 7=1. They finished third in the league five points behind winners High Lane First Team, Mellor Thirds were fifth in Division B and the Fourths third in Division D. During the season chairman George Dearsley announced he was stepping down from the post he had held for 33 years. Arrangements were made for Stewart Smith to take over as chairman. The club inaugurated a special George Dearsley trophy to be awarded to the best player in the First Team in honour of the work George had done for the club. The first winner was Paul Swann.
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