• Andrew Atkinson looks at Morecambe FC’s push for promotion aided by Atlètico Madrid prodigy Mendes Gomes; former President Jim Bowen and Los Montesinos Shrimps’ fan Keith Ashton’s desire to ‘skinny-dip’ in Morecambe Bay if they go up.

MORECAMBE FC are pushing for promotion to League One helped by former Atlètico Madrid youth prodigy Mendes Gomes.

Born in Yeumbeul, Dakar, Mendes Gomes, 22, moved to Spain at early age and played for Atlético Madrid’s youth teams.

In 2016 he went to England and represented West Didsbury & Chorlton, scoring seven league goals in 50 games during his two-year spell at the club.

In May 2018, Mendes Gomes signed for Morecambe, after being scouted whilst studying at The Manchester College and playing for their football Academy.

He made his senior debut in August 2018, in an EFL Cup tie against Preston North End.

After impressing at The Shrimps a one-year contract option was exercised by Morecambe at the end of the 2018–19 season and he was offered a new contract at the end of the 2019–20 campaign.

Morecambe resident Keith Ashton, who has a property in Los Montesinos, said he has to rub his eyes when looking at the League Two table.

Keith Ashton: Skinny-dipping in Morecambe Bay! - if Shrimps promoted.
Keith Ashton: Skinny-dipping in Morecambe Bay! – if Shrimps promoted.

“Morecambe sitting in amongst the League Two promotion candidates is something that I’ve been waiting for,” Keith told The Leader.

Keith looked back on late comedian and TV Bullseye presenter Jim Bowen, formerly President of Morecambe FC: “Some fans said Jim only used to attend the games when the TV cameras were coming,” said Keith.

Morecambe paid tribute to Jim Bowen who died in 2018, aged 80. Bowen who went from being a dustman, aged 15, to Deputy Headmaster, held the Honorary post at the club for 10 years, before resigning in 2003.

He played a major part in promoting the Shrimps. At the time of his passing, Shrimps’ Director, Rod Taylor, said: “It was the club who asked Jim to be President and he was always available when we needed him.

“He never courted personal publicity through his role, in fact quite the opposite.

“He maximised publicity for the club at times, particularly with his TV and radio work.”

Bowen said he resigned after fans criticised him for admitting Blackburn Rovers would always be his team.

He stepped down after 10 years in the post, saying: “I am 66 going on 90 and I can be doing without this. I think it is all rather juvenile.”

Brought up in Accrington, he was well known for being a Blackburn Rovers fan. A number of Morecambe fans posted messages on the club’s website, criticising him after he spoke openly of his love for Rovers in Granada TV documentary ‘Soccer Stories’.

He also upset some supporters by jokingly saying the Shrimps, Morecambe’s nickname and the town’s famous produce, were ‘awful’ – but said those supporters had misunderstood his role as President.

“The club had asked me for help. Morecambe could get TV space because of me. They would ring me up and I would do a bit for the cameras.

“I think it was a small group of fanatical supporters who wanted total dedication. They said I was just President of Morecambe for my own publicity, but that is the last thing I would want to do.

“There was a tremendous strength of feeling when I said I am President, but I am an out-and-out Rovers fan. My heart is in Blackburn.

“The board have always been extremely nice. They are hard working lads who give it their all. I have happy memories of Morecambe.”

Jim Bowen: Resigned as President of Morecambe FC after criticism for supporting Blackburn Rovers.
Jim Bowen: Resigned as President of Morecambe FC after criticism for supporting Blackburn Rovers.

Keith added: “The Shrimps are doing very well and getting onto the football map. The club has a good following, but obviously the fans are unable to attend games at present, due to the coronavirus situation.”

Keith, who has had multiple flights cancelled, due to the COVID-19 lockdown and travelling restrictions between Spain and the UK, said: “I’ve followed Morecambe for decades and their promotion chances are looking good.”

He quipped: “If they do get promotion I’m thinking of going ‘skinny-dipping’ in Morecambe Bay!”.

Main image: Morecambe pushing for promotion aided by Atlètico Madrid prodigy Mendes Gomes.