Non-League Football Reborn In Colne
In the East Lancashire town of Colne they still remember the extraordinary adventures of a non-league football club Colne Dynamoes. The club which was owned and managed by millionaire Graham White had huge ambitions to reach the Football League and also had the finances to be able to achieve their ambitions.
Chairman Graham “Chalky” White founded Colne Dynamoes in 1963 as a team for a few old school friends, the club played in the Lancashire Amateur Leagues before joining the English pyramid in 1982 as founder members of the North West Counties Football League.
When his property and timber businesses began to make significant money during the mid-eighties, White invested fortunes in the team and the club started to rise through the football pyramid. Colne Dynamoes went on to win the 1988 FA Vase Final at Wembley before a year later winning the Northern Premier League, whilst signing former England and Liverpool European Cup Final winner Alan Kennedy.
Colne Dynamoes’ ambition had become known in football circles as had the scale of White’s investment. In 1989, White took the club full-time paying the players more than they could earn in the third tier. Staff were provided with club cars and the aim was to reach the Football League.
But as the Dynamoes ran away with the Northern Premier League a problem was brewing, the club’s Holt House ground was not good enough for the National League then known as the Conference. White tried unsuccessfully to make an arrangement to groundshare with Burnley Football Club, before he publicised plans to build a new stadium on the edge of nearby Nelson, but they came to nothing.
Having failed to find a suitable ground, Dynamoes were refused promotion to the football Conference in 1990 and White who had put hundreds of thousands of pounds into the club had reached the limit of his investment. Just days before the start of the 1990-91 season Graham White took the decision to fold the club.
Speaking about his time at Colne Dynamoes Alan Kennedy said, “I loved my time at Colne it was seen as a really progressive club that did it in the right way, they were paying good money and were top of the league, to be honest I didn’t have too many offers at the time.
It was an unstable part of my career, I didn’t know where to go as I had already been abroad to Belgium & Sweden but nobody wanted a left-back, in the end after Colne, I ended up going back into the Football League with Wrexham who gave me a lifeline.”
Non-League football finally returned to Holt House as Colne Football Club was formed in 1996. On Saturday the club will travel to Gateshead attempting to reach the FA Cup First Round for the first time in the club’s history something that Dynamoes never managed.
If on Saturday they beat Gateshead Football Club a team ninth in the Vanarama National League North, two divisions above Colne they will bank £18,750 which is estimated to be around 20% of the club’s turnover before you even a first-round proper tie to come.
More than 200 fans are making the journey to the north-east of England, with the players being treated to a trip up on the first-team bus of Fleetwood Town, a club who succeeded in achieving what Dynamoes strived for rising from the foot of the non-league pyramid to Sky Bet League One.
Speaking about the club, Colne Football Club Chairman Ryan Haigh said “We took big gambles at the club this summer going over budget in order to get the players we wanted as we want promotion. It was a board decision and we know that we might have to put some money in at the end of the season, but it’s part of our planning & investment.
The Football League may be a step too far for us at the moment, but our plans are to install a 4G pitch as it opens up so many revenue streams, but that would obviously prevent us from playing in the Football League. Fleetwood Town are the model we are closest to. They have become a sustainable club in Sky Bet League One and yes they have spent a lot of money on the ground and facilities but they have never gone crazy with wages like other clubs.”