Scarborough Football Club were an association football club based in the seaside resort of Scarborough, North Yorkshire. They were one of the oldest football clubs in England, formed in 1879, before they were wound up on 20 June 2007, with debts of £2.5 million.
In the 2006–07 season Scarborough competed in the Conference North. They started the season with a 10-point deduction, for a breach of league rules, and finished in 20th place which would have resulted in their relegation to the Northern Premier League. Their last game, on 28 April 2007, was a 1–0 win at Hucknall Town. A new supporter-owned 'phoenix' club was established by the Seadog Trust under the banner Scarborough Athletic on 25 June 2007, and one year later a second supporter-owned club, Scarborough Town, also came into existence, which itself folded in 2013.
The club was formed in 1879 by members of the town's cricket team, and played their earliest games at the cricket ground on North Marine Road. The football club soon moved to the nearby Recreation Ground. In 1898, Scarborough Football Club made the move across town to the Athletic Ground in Seamer Road and remained there until 2007, though the ground was renamed The McCain Stadium in a pioneering sponsorship deal in 1988.
Scarborough first entered England's national cup competition, the FA Cup, in 1887. Before the club became professional they spent their time competing in the Northern League.
It was in 1927 the Yorkshire club became professional and joined the Midland League. After only three years they became champions of it, breaking the record for most points in a season. The same year, the club were performing respectably in the FA Cup, reaching the Third Round before going out 2–1 to Grimsby Town who were in the nation's top league at the time.
Club attendance records were broken when the club reached the same stage of the FA Cup again, during the 1937–38 season. The game against Luton Town, which was a 1–1 draw, saw 11,162 people packed into the Athletic Ground. Unfortunately for Scarborough they were soundly defeated 5–1 in the replay.
1970s FA Trophy success
Because of their decent performance in the Midlands League, the club were entitled to become one of the founding clubs in the new Northern Premier League in 1968. The 1970s would prove to be a successful time for the club; Scarborough FC won the FA Trophy three times at Wembley Stadium, beating Wigan Athletic, Stafford Rangers and Dagenham in the process.
However, there was also a tragedy for the club during the 1970s. On 18 May 1977, 21-year-old winger Tony Aveyard died after collapsing as a result of a head injury suffered in a match two days earlier.
The 1970s also saw the club performing well in the FA Cup. They reached the Third Round in the 1975–76 season before losing 2–1 to Crystal Palace in a match that was featured on BBC's "Match of the Day". During the 1977–78 season, they reached these heights again, with a Third Round clash against Brighton and Hove Albion; they lost the tie 3–0 at the Goldstone Ground in front of 23,748 spectators.
They also took part in the Anglo-Italian Cup twice, beating Udinese 4–0 in 1976 and then beating Parma 2–0 during the following year's competition. In 1976 they lost 4–1 on aggregate to Italian side US Lecce in the final match of the Anglo-Italian Semiprofessional Tournament. Gordon Banks played for Scarborough, in the opening game of that seasons' competition (versus S.S. Monza 1912). By the end of the 1970s, Scarborough had been selected to be part of the new Alliance Premier League, known today as the Football Conference. They stayed in this league for several seasons with generally consistent finishing positions in mid-table. The club gained a new manager named Neil Warnock, and his team became champions of the Conference in 1987. They were automatically promoted into the Football League, the first club to achieve this feat by this route.
The Football League era
In 1987 Scarborough were promoted into the Football League Fourth Division, which became Division Three in 1992 after English football introduced the FA Premier League.
Warnock stayed as manager of Scarborough until he left for Notts County in November 1988, and has since gone on to win numerous promotions for a string of league clubs. However, the subsequent years were rather less successful for Scarborough.
Scarborough qualified for the Fourth Division play-offs in 1989, courtesy of a fifth place finish. They were knocked out at the semi-final stage 2-1 on aggregate by Leyton Orient.
The club had mixed fortunes during their stay in the Football League. They spent several seasons near the bottom, but reached the play-offs for promotion twice. They became giant killers in 1989 with a 3–2 victory in the League Cup over Chelsea, after achieving a 1–1 draw during the first leg at Stamford Bridge. Their cup runs continued to throw up good results following this, with a 7–6 aggregate win over Preston North End, and a 5–3 defeat against Southampton (including 2 goals from Alan Shearer) in 1991. In October 1989, however, Scarborough lost 7-0 to eventual runners-up Oldham Athletic, in which Frankie Bunn scored six of Oldham's goals, a record for an individual player that still stands.
Their best run however came during the 1992–93 season, where Scarborough knocked Bradford City, Coventry City and Plymouth Argyle out of the competition. This brought Arsenal to Scarborough in a tie which Arsenal narrowly won, 1–0 with a Nigel Winterburn goal. Arsenal went on to win the League Cup that year.
In 1998, they qualified for the Division Three playoffs, but lost to Torquay United in the semi-finals. The following season would bring a relegation battle rather than a promotion challenge.
The last day of the 1998–99 season – 8 May 1999 – saw Scarborough FC's final game as a Football League club, which they drew 1–1 at home to a Peterborough United side which featured future Premier League stars Simon Davies and Matthew Etherington. When the final whistle blew at the McCain Stadium, Carlisle were still level with Plymouth Argyle and the Scarborough fans had already invaded the pitch to celebrate "survival", only for the news to come through within minutes that a last-minute goal from Carlisle United's on-loan goalkeeper Jimmy Glass had ensured Carlisle's survival and relegated Scarborough back to the Conference, twelve years after they had left it. It was the first relegation in the history of Scarborough FC.
Back in non-league football
The 1999–2000 season would begin for Scarborough in the Conference – the same league they had won twelve years earlier. However, in their first season they only managed to finish in fourth place, thus failing to win promotion at the first attempt. The club maintained their football league youth policy. In this first season in the conference, the club’s youth team, lead by youth team manager Ian Kerr, won the football league youth alliance winning their last five games against Hull City, Bradford City, PNE, Carlisle United and Wrexham without conceding a goal.
Poor results saw Scarborough at the bottom of the Conference by Christmas 2001. With relegation to the Northern Premier League threatening, new chairman Malcolm Reynolds and manager Russell Slade oversaw a turnaround in the club's fortunes; the team finished 12th at the end of the 2001–02 season. This was followed up by a 7th-place finish the following season.
2003–04 brought a 15th-place finish in the Conference, with the highlight of the season being an FA Cup 4th-Round tie with Chelsea at the renamed McCain Stadium. Chelsea and England defender John Terry scored the only goal of the game. Slade left to join Grimsby Town, Nick Henry was appointed his successor and brought in his former Oldham Athletic team-mate Neil Redfearn as his assistant.
In the 2004–05 season, despite only finishing 13th in the league, Scarborough managed to go through the whole season unbeaten at home.
With the club at the bottom of the Conference, manager Nick Henry was sacked in October 2005. Neil Redfearn took over as manager and brought in former Barnsley coach Eric Winstanley as assistant manager. Despite finishing bottom of the table in 2005–06, Scarborough were not initially relegated, as Canvey Island resigned from the league and Altrincham were deducted 18 points for fielding an ineligible player, meaning that they occupied bottom position instead. However the Conference were not convinced of the club's financial stability, and Scarborough ended up suffering the same fate as Northwich Victoria had the previous year by being relegated to the Conference North.
Neil Redfearn resigned in the 2006 close season and former Scarborough skipper and assistant manager Mark Patterson replaced him. Patterson re-signed striker Tony Hackworth and defender Mark Hotte. The club started their first season in the Conference North with minus 10 points as the club had been in administration. What proved to be their last game, on 28 April 2007, was a 1–0 win at Hucknall Town. However, Scarborough finished 20th meaning that had they survived until the start of the 2007–08 season, they would have been relegated to the Northern Premier League. On 4 May 2007 Mark Patterson left the Club after failing to agree a new contract.
The club had been hoping to move to a new stadium on the outskirts of town by the start of the 2009–10 season, with the proceeds from the sale of the McCain Stadium to a housing developer wiping out the club's historic debts in addition to providing the finance to build the new ground. However, a covenant existed on the McCain Stadium that restricted its use only to sporting activities. Scarborough failed to convince Scarborough Borough Council that the proposals would raise enough money to both pay off the club's debts and build a new ground. In 2017, the site of the stadium became a Lidl supermarket.
On Friday 8 June 2007, the FA in London said that it was a very strong possibility that by 12 June Scarborough F.C. may well go out of business. On Tuesday 12 June, the club was given an eight-day 'stay of execution' following a 'change of heart' by their local Borough Council. But on 20 June it was wound up in the High Court, ending its 128-year run as a club with debts of £2.5 million.
However, the winding up of Scarborough F.C paved the way for the supporter's trust to form a club as Scarborough Athletic and secure a place in the Northern Counties East League. Meanwhile, the Centre of Excellence, youth team and Football in the Community sections of Scarborough F.C. moved to the nearby George Pindar Community Sports College, with some assistance from Sheffield United. In 2008 the youth system was extended by adding an adult team named Scarborough Town, which was admitted to the Teesside League for 2008–09 and won the championship of Division Two by going the entire season undefeated. In 2009–10 Scarborough Town moved up into the Wearside League and scored 140 goals in their 36 games as they won the championship and also the Sunderland Shipowners Cup. Scarborough Town F.C. folded in June 2013.
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