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The rise of Salford City and the Class of 92

Thursday 2nd March 2017
In March 2014, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Nicky Butts, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes bought Evo-Stik Division One North side Salford City with the intention of taking the club to the Football League.
The class of 92, who have roots in the borough of Manchester, took over nearly three years ago and the club has since been transformed on almost every level.

Salford had been rooted in mid-table in the division, but they have now achieved two promotions in their two full seasons since. The club has changed its colours from orange to red and the ground is currently undergoing a complete transformation, which will stand them in good stead should or when they make the Football League.

It is not to everyone's taste though, some of those previously at the heart of the club have become disillusioned by the changes that have taken place. Rival fans are also not happy seeing another club splash the cash in the lower reaches of the game.

Over the last two years, Salford has been given great publicity, with the BBC following the progress of the former Manchester United stars and the club in a documentary that has shown what can be achieved when a team are invested in.
During their first full season in charge, the club went head-to-head with Darlington for the Evo-Stik Division One North title. Manager Phil Power was sacked despite the club sitting in a playoff spot and replaced by the fiery managerial duo of Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson. The pair, whose tempers were highlighted on the TV documentary, turned their season around, as they went on an incredible run to seal the title in the final week of the season.

The following season the club again were challenging for promotion alongside North East pair Darlington and Blyth Spartans in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier division. The Ammies finished third, but dramatic play-off victories over Ashton United and Workington clinched back-to-back promotions.

During this campaign, they also reached the first round of the FA Cup for the first time, when the club defeated League side Notts County live on TV before falling to Hartlepool United after a replay in the second round.

This season, after a slow start they are once again challenging for promotion, this time at the top of the Vanarama National North.  After victory this weekend, they are second in the table and look set for at least a playoff spot.

It is hard to argue with the progress Salford City has made under the Class of 92. A club who were mid-table in the seventh tier of English football is now challenging for a place in the top tier of Non-League football.

When they took over the attendances were a couple of hundred, so far this season they are averaging 1330, with the ground quickly being built up around them.

They have a lot going for them, money, big name involvement and two hungry managers who have shown they are up to the job. Whichever way you look at it though, they are doing fantastically well.

As a fan of rivals Darlington, I have seen up close the rise of Salford City. As a Quakers fan, it has been hard at times, having gone head-to-head for promotion for the last two seasons.

From a fan-owned club where everything seems a constant struggle, jealousy often kicks in and I think that a lot of our fans are in this position when it comes to Salford.

Ultimately, it will be Salford who has everything in place to continue to move up the football leagues. How far can they go? As far as the Class of 92 wants to.

In recent years Fleetwood and Crawley are the two best examples of clubs with no Football League history who have both risen to League One after strong financial backing and in the next ten years, I expect Salford City will also be there among the 92 clubs in the Football League.
Simon Hahn

Lifelong sufferer following Darlington FC from League Two to the Northern League. Freelance Sports and data journalist. Living for 3pm on Saturday.

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