The second in our series looking at League Two's additions for 2019/20. Salford have never played in the Football League and have quite a remarkable story.
Formed in 1940, as Salford Central, the club progressed steadily through local league before changing its name to Salford Amateurs in 1963.
The club became a real force rising through the leagues in the 1970s, winning the Lancashire Amateur Cup three times in a decade.
In 1989, the Lancashire club adopted its current name of Salford City, dropping their ‘Ammies’ tag in the process and a year later they entered the FA Cup for the first time receiving national exposure from the BBC’s ‘Grandstand’s Road to Wembley’.
After establishing themselves as a steady non-league outfit competing in Division One of the North West Counties Football League, they began to work their way up under the management of Gary Fellows earning promotion to the eighth tier of English football in 2008.
Fellows was, however, relieved of his duties just eight games into their Northern Premier League campaign the following season – things didn’t get better quickly. Ashley Berry joined but after two months, and no change in fortunes, left – it was up to Paul Wright and his assistant Neil Hall to save the club from relegation.
After 26 games, Salford only had eight points and one win but in a miraculous change in fortunes saw an incredible escape – nine wins in their final 14 games culminated in dramatic final-day win against Garforth Town that ensured safety.
In 2014, the club reached a new level of notoriety when former Manchester United players Ryan Giggs, Gary & Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt, collectively known as the Class of ’92, completed a takeover of the club.
After a positive start to the season, the Ammies went on a poor run of only four wins in 11 games and manager Phil Power was relieved of his duties, with Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley, who had won the Northern Prem the season before with Ramsbottom United, taking over the reigns.
Winning 15 of the remaining 17 matches, Salford were promoted with Darlington, their closest rivals, losing their penultimate game. Their heroics were closely followed by the BBC as part of their ‘Out Of Their League’ documentary that documented the Class of 92’s takeover and subsequent decisions, alongside the team’s progress.
Their story continued to be closely followed by national TV stations who covered their remarkable FA Cup victory over League Two side, Notts County all alongside the filming of the second series of ‘Out Of Their League’.
At the end of the 2015/16 season, Salford overcame Ashford United and Workington in the play-offs to reach their highest-ever league and claim their place in National League North.
They took the next two steps up the football pyramid in their stride – after going full-time for the first time and unveiling the newly name Peninsula Stadium at the beginning of the 2017/18 season, they were champions by the end of it.
That was the end for ‘Jonno’ and Bernard, however who left my mutual consent due to irreconcilable differences regarding performance and contract length.
Graham Alexander took over for their first season in tier one of the non-league pyramid and was successful at the first time of asking; however, they had to do it the hard way through the play-offs.
City overcame Eastleigh on penalties at the Peninsula Stadium before seeing off AFC Fylde at Wembley to seal promotion to the Football League for the first time in their history.
Story of their Season – 2018/19
After a stop-start opening month in the National League, Gary Alexander’s picked up the pace – 13 games unbeaten including seven wins on the spin put them firmly in the promotion picture.
A December dip in form put them in a three-horse race with Leyton Orient and Solihull Moors as the Ammies lost three on the bounce within seven days – at home to Dagenham & Redbridge and on the road to Wrexham and Barrow.
From then on, any slip felt like it cost you the title and automatic promotion – two league losses against Braintree and Eastleigh gave Orient the upperhand and despite going ten games without loss, featuring only one draw, they could not make up the difference and had to settle for third.
After Eastleigh overcame Wrexham in the play-off eliminator at the Racecourse Ground, Salford had home advantage for the winner-takes-all semi-final but they went the distance and had to rely on penalties to see off the Spitfires.
A week later and Wembley beckoned where they faced Fylde who they had lost to less than 20 days previously but goals from Emmanuel Dieseruvwe, Carl Piergianni and Ibou Touray ensured a comfortable day at Wembley for the Greater Manchester side.
Played For Both
Well, technically not played for both but Richie Wellens is the latest man to represent the Greater Manchester side and the Robins.
Wellens made nine appearances for the Ammies, scoring one goal in that time during Salford’s solitary season in National League North.