Covid-19 hit many non-league clubs hard; Droylsden being one team left in the wilderness for two years because of the pandemic. In August 2020, the Bloods announced their withdrawal from all league and cup competitions. May 2021 saw that hiatus continued for another season. Indeed, it wouldn’t be until summer 2023 that we’d see them back in action. And it’s all now a far cry from their zenith when they joined us as members of the Conference National for the 2007-8 campaign.
At first, we didn’t think there was a huge amount of complexity to the Droyslden story. But, on reflection, we may have got ahead of ourselves. It starts off easily enough; forming in 1892 and doing very little but compete in local leagues for the first generation or so. After World War One, though, many sides local to them didn’t survive and the Bloods continued on as members of the Manchester League. It was a league championship they would eventually win during the 1930s.
In 1936, the club moved to the Lancashire Combination and even became a “nursery” club to Manchester City. What a prestige that’d be in modern times, eh? The problem is the arrangement stopped them from being able to compete in the FA Cup. Upon the outbreak of World War Two, meanwhile, the club took part in the Cheshire League and didn’t fare too badly. But this is when the tale starts to get a little bumpy. The Cheshire League stint came to an end when a second successive re-election bid failed.
That’s not the worst bit. The lease of their Butcher’s Arms ground ended up in the hands of Belle Vue FC – who changed names to Droylsden United. It forced the Bloods to find a new ground, although the town wasn’t able to actually sustain both teams. In the end, the council bought the ground – and the two sides agreed a merger. A bit of unnecessary drama? Maybe. But it did take the club ‘home’. And then things do start to settle down once again.
Why do we know the Bloods?
After exiting the Cheshire League, the Bloods turned up in the Lancashire League – before returning back to the Cheshire League in 1968. In 1982, they would’ve been relegated after finishing bottom. But a quirk of fate saw the Cheshire League and Lancashire Combination join forces to start the North West Counties League. The Bloods then won the Division Two title in 1987, but wouldn’t take their place in Division One. The reason? They applied to join the Northern Premier League instead.
After a 17-year spell in the Northern Premier League that yielded promotion and relegation, the Bloods joined Conference North in 2004. They enjoyed two top-four finishes before going one better in 2007; winning the league and reaching the Conference National. The rise in that short space of time can’t be seen as any mean feat, given the club’s history up until – well – the 1990s and 2000s. And, for the first (and only time to date), the Bloods were among the very best in the non-league structure.
How to get to Droylsden – Travel Information – Distance: 181 miles
You have three options should you be travelling to Droylsden. We’ve decided to go with the one that’s shortest in distance.
We’ve binned off the A1 and M6 options to stick with the M1, going north until you reach Junction 35A for the A616. At the roundabout, take the second exit towards Manchester and continue over two roundabouts. You’ll be on this road for around 10-and-a-half miles, before taking the first exit at the roundabout for the A628.
After another 14-or-so miles, continue onto A57; this is merely a case of staying on your current course. Then, take the third exit at the roundabout after just over a mile for the M67 towards Manchester. After nearly five miles, you’ll come to the end of the M67 and you’ll be wanting the third exit for the northbound M60 heading in the direction of Bolton.
Come off the motorway at Junction 23 for the A6140. Turn left for the A6140 and then left again for the A635, coming around past Argos and Currys/PC World.
Shortly after, turn right at the one-way system. Then it’s a left, making sure you’re on the A662 Lumb Lane. After half-a-mile, turn right for Market Street and the ground is here.
Next to the club’s main entrance on Market Street, there is a car park with space for 50 cars. It’s free – but does fill up quite quickly. If we remember correctly, there is a left turn into Greenside Lane just before you reach the ground that has a pay and display car park in. There’s also some limited street parking around the ground.
Services to: MANCHESTER PICCADILLY (for LEEDS)
Fairfield is the nearest station to Droylsden FC and the good news is that it isn’t a huge trek. Head north on Booth Road towards Clarendon Road from the station, turning right onto Manchester Road at the top of the road. Shortly afterwards, turn left towards Westway and then right ONTO Westway. Next, turn left for Ashton Hill Lane.
This will bring you around by the Lazy Toad and onto Market Street. Turn right and keep going for a third of a mile.
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