Colne FC are a non league club from the mill town in East Lancashire, six miles north east of Burnley. The current club were formed in 1996, but the story of football in the town has had a dramatic past.
A club also called Colne FC played in the Lancashire Combination in the early twentieth century and then Colne Dynamoes FC took over as the towns' senior club from 1963 when they were formed by Graham White for former pupils of Primet High School. They progressed through local league football and the council gave them some land previously used for cricket at Holt House so they could develop a proper ground.
Dynamoes joined the Lancashire Combination in 1975 and then they became founder members of the North West Counties League in 1982. They won one promotion as White became a millionaire through his property and building business. He began to invest heavily in the club. By 1988 Dynamoes had been promoted to the Northern Premier League, winning the FA Vase at Wembley against Emley the same year.
|Colne Dynamoes. FA Vase winners|
The following season they won another title and promotion into the NPL Premier Division with former Liverpool star Alan Kennedy amongst their team. The club turned full time professional with White paying out large wages. Crowds averaging over 1,300 flocked to Holt House as they won the title in their first season by an astounding twenty six points as well as reaching the FA Trophy semi finals where Barrow ended their run.
Dynamoes were turned down promotion into the Football Conference as Holt House did not meet requirements. White offered the struggling Burnley FC (who he'd earlier tried to purchase) a huge amount to share Turf Moor but he was turned down. He announced plans for a new stadium on the outskirts of neighbouring Nelson but after a pre season game against Newcastle Blue Star in 1990, White announced the club were to fold and he was retiring from football amongst claims that the money had run out and death threats towards him.
Colne FC were formed in January 1996 and placed in the North West Counties League Division Two, moving in to Holt House, which was used by Colne Royal British Legion FC from 1990 until 1995 when they folded.
In 2004 'The Reds' won promotion to the leagues' top tier as well as reaching the FA Vase semi final. AFC Sudbury were victorious despite the home leg drawing a crowd of 1,742 to Holt House.
Plans were announced for a Football Academy to be set up to benefit the club along with Nelson and Colne College as well as a new stadium with updated facilities on the land between Holt House and the nearby rugby club.
Colne FC will play in the North West Counties League Premier Division in the 2013-14 season.
Wednesday 14th September 2011
It was a windy morning in East Lancashire with warm weather being interspersed with some heavy showers. I was in the area for the day to visit a few grounds after watching the Accrington Stanley v Rotherham United game the previous evening before heading to Manchester that night.
I arrived on the train from Nelson to yet another typical town of the area. It was hilly and dominated by many old stone buildings, which I found so much more attractive than modern architecture.
My walk took me through terraced streets to the main A6068 road where I started the climb up to Holt House. The sign at the bottom of Harrison Drive still showed direction for Colne Dynamoes as well as the adjoining Nelson and Colne Rugby Club. At the junction with Birstwistle Avenue, my advance planning came to the fore as I went through the snicket between the houses onto the playing fields. The ground was up a couple of levels right up at the top.
I arrived at the xlcr Stadium to give Holt House its sponsors title of the day to find the gates locked and the ground surrounded by high fences. I was not to be beaten! I walked around the soggy field around the ground to the far side, where I could see down the far touchline through a gap in the gate, and then onto the banking behind that side, next to a cow field.
Colne really had done their best with the limited room they had, as well as contending with an incredible slope across the pitch. There are times when I think the Conference get it wrong, but I now understood fully their decision to turn down Colne Dynamoes from joining non league's elite while based at Holt House.
The main side had the changing rooms, clubhouse, a seated stand and a covered terrace in the limited space available. The end to my left and the near touchline was flat open standing and a small cover. In front of me were various outbuildings and the dug outs. The right hand end had a low cover all the way behind the goal with a roof that went up in stages to allow for the slope.
I walked back into town, which was a lot less energy consuming than getting up to the ground, and caught a bus back to Burnley bus station from outside the grand Municipal Hall.