Back the Bridge - A Trip Down Memory Lane (Stalybridge Celtic Football Club 1994-1996)
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Back the Bridge
Author: Michael Brierley - Sat 11 Nov 17

Stalybridge Celtic FC now faced a challenge to build on these promising showings and progress even further up the leagues.

That, in itself, was no easy task as doubtless being still one of the smaller operators at that level of the game caused issues all of it own, yet as the ground was in the midst of being transformed then optimism that an on the field change in fortunes could also be achieved remained high.

The 1994/1995 season was a so, so, year on the pitch, given the traumas and ultimate triumph of the year before, whilst off the field work saw the construction of a stand behind the bottom goal.

Further evidence of the ambition that existed came in the record signing of Burke, who was to become a crowd favourite and he starred in what was perhaps the highlight of the campaign, a 3-3 home League Cup tie with Bromsgrove Rovers (Hughes, Edmonds, Coathup, Ogley, Patterson, Megson, Jackson, Bauress, Wheeler, Burke, Ryan) The match was covered by live television, a historic first, yet was also notable for a sensational ninety eighth minute equaliser from Coathup.

Although progress throughout the season was reasonable, with excellent home form up until Christmas, things began to tail off somewhat and it was not actually until the final day that survival was guaranteed, with an eighteenth place finish.

Although the 1995/1996 season was an all together more sedate affair, it was sadly marked by tragedy when Nicholls, following his one and only appearance in an away win at Dover Athletic, was tragically killed straight after the game in a motorbike accident.

A final day 6-1 thrashing of Kettering Town (Willetts, Megson, Coathup, Frain, O’Shaughnessy, Hall, Burke, Goodacre, Jones, Arnold, Challender) on their own patch, in a game long remembered for joyous scenes on the terraces complete with fans conga, was just reward for what was ultimately a very solid campaign.

The fourteenth place finish renewed hope that such form could be carried on into the following season, provided such displays could be continued and perhaps put to bed any notions that these were no longer mere minnows, now being more than able to hold their own with the best.

Much progress had been made, throughout all areas of the operation, yet again and with the demolition of the old wooden structure main stand, now replaced by a brand spanking new structure complete with office and hospitality facilities, this only helped to enhance things further.

Stalybridge Celtic FC, both on and off the field, were now ready to compete with the best that non league football had to offer.

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