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Atherton Laburnum Rovers


Website last updated: 29 Mar, 2015 @ 11:29


Atherton LR Club History

Laburnum Rovers were founded in 1956 by Joe Riley as an under 14s side and after a difficult first season in the local Briarcroft Junior League, they went on to enjoy much success in League and Cup competitions. Joe was persuaded to carry on into Senior football and after a brief spell in the Leigh League the club joined the Bolton Combination.

More success followed, but the ground at Hag Fold prevented further progress so a farmers field was found and despite footpath criss-crossing and duck ponds either side, hard work by everyone at the club turned this unpromising field into a football pitch. In 1966 the club moved into its new ground and were able to take their place in Division One of the Combination.

Jack Crilly succeeded Joe as Chairman and worked tirelessly for the club, supervising the E******N of new changing rooms (an improvement on the old air raid shelters they had been using) and a small social club. Jack died suddenly in 1980 and as a tribute to the work he did the ground was renamed from Greendale to Crilly Park.

In the summer of 1980 the club joined the non-league pyramid when their application to join the Cheshire County League was successful. A stipulation of the League was that the towns name had to be in the clubs title, so links with the past were retained with the new name of Atherton Laburnum Rovers.

In 1982 the club became founder members of the North West Counties League, being placed in division two until the league was reorganised in 1987 when ongoing ground improvements saw them placed in division one. 1989 saw floodlights erected and the club enter the FA Cup for the first time, while in 1991 the changing rooms and clubhouse were completely rebuilt.

Towards the end of 1990/91 season Dave Morris took over as team manager and it was the start of the best period in the clubs history. In 1992/93 the club won the League title with 106 points from 42 games and also won the League Championship Trophy. Promotion to the Unibond League was denied them because of grading requirements, but undaunted the club repeated their double the following season as well as reaching the semi-finals of the FA Vase. This time the club was promoted to the Unibond League.

Two good seasons saw steady progress, but then financial troubles struck and the club was relegated for the first time in its history.

Three seasons of struggle back in the North West Counties League culminated with the relegation to Division Two. However, the appointment of Alan Lord as manager saw a remarkable turnaround in form and nine successive victories helped the club win back promotion to Division One at the first attempt. In November 2002 Tom Foster and Dennis Haslem took over as managers after having to rebuild the team from scratch, they secured Division One football for another season. Dennis moved on in the summer and Ian Street joined the club.

A period of stability and success followed but at the end of 2004/05 season Foster and Street left the club to be replaced by Mike Lester and Darren Ford, They set about building a new squad but, in February 2006, Lester and Ford resigned sparking a difficult time for the club on the pitch with no less than six managers at the helm over the next two years. The most successful period came in spring 2007 under Roy Sweeney when the club moved away from the relegation zone after doubling its points total from 21 to 42 in the final two months of the season.

Sweeney resigned in December 2007, with Malcolm Anderton taking temporary charge for four months until ex-LR player and Leigh RMI manager Stuart Humphreys was brought in to ensure the club retained its top division status and it was fortunate that 21st place was enough.

With changes elsewhere in the pyramid system meaning LR avoided relegation at the end of 07/08 season, the club brought in Dave Hughes as the new manager with a brief to keep the team in the Premier Division while the club was reorganised behind the scenes. Hughes brought in a very experienced coaching team and set about building a squad which has proved very successful. The season ended with one of the highest league placings for several years, victory in the Goldline Trophy and another Reebok appearance in the Hospital Cup final. This season the side had a promising opening to the campaign recording another FA Cup giant-killing before injuries took a severe toll, with the team battling in the relegation dogfight. Victory once again in the Goldline Trophy Final gave the team enough belief to collect the points they needed to stay in the Premier Division.

Dave Hughes resigned as manager at the beginning of September 2010 and the position was immediately offered to the Head Coach Glenn Moses to ensure stability within the team. Moses led the club to its third Goldline Final in three years and one of our highest league placings for several years but unfortunately further instability followed at the end of that season with the manager and most of the team moving on to pastures new. At short notice former player Phil Priestley took the reins and with barely two weeks to build a squad from scratch before the season began it always appeared an uphill struggle. Despite some battling performances LR succumbed to relegation, and the 2012/13 season in Division One was also a challenge, despite some outstanding performances which saw the team beat all the leading lights including West Didsbury, Formby and Darwen over the course of the campaign. 2013/14 opened under new management as Michael Clegg was appointed and the season brought real encouragement on the pitch as the side secured a top eight finish with some tremendous performances, although off the pitch the club was plunged into mourning following the sudden death of long-term supporter Eddie Taylor - the Man with the Rattle. At the end of the season Clegg departed for Atherton Collieries and the club appointed another former player Ross McNair, to be assisted by the hugely-experienced former Ashton Athletic and Colls supremo Steve Pilling.