FC Isle of Man crest

First Division Cup quarterfinal – AFC Darwen vs FC Isle of Man

This bank holiday Monday the Ravens travel to Lancashire to play in the First Division Cup quarter-final against AFC Darwen, a team steeped in footballing history.

AFC Darwen is the successor to the historic Darwen FC, which had been in existence for 134 years and was an early pioneer of professional football – causing controversy in 1879 for being the first club to pay players. This particular part of the club’s history was the subject of a Netflix series, the English Game, in 2020.

Sadly, Darwen FC was wound up in 2008 due to unpaid debts and in 2009 AFC Darwen was formed. The new club took over the old Anchor Ground from the dissolved club and were placed in the Step 7 West Lancashire League Premier Division, where they subsequently finished eighth in their first season.

At the end of the 2009/10 season The Salmoners gained re-election into the NWCFL after achieving the required ground grading standards to compete at that level and were ultimately promoted to the Premier Division via the playoffs in 2014/15.

Despite enjoying some periods of success in that division, the club latterly experienced significant off-field difficulties and in 2017/18 they were eventually relegated to the NWCFL Division One North where they play today.

Back to 2021/22 season and the Salmoners have unfortunately endured a disappointing campaign in Div 1 North, finishing 17th and only saved from relegation having been reprieved due to vacancies in the pyramid.

AFC Darwen’s recent form has, however, been strong. Despite a Macron Cup exit to Premier Division Padiham, they had won five out of their previous five matches so will be coming into our clash with some confidence.

The game kicks off at 13:45 on Monday 02 May.