Morecambe skipper: Promotion still hasn't sunk in yet

Sam Lavelle admits he’s still coming to terms with the prospect of skippering Morecambe in League One.

Saturday, 12th June 2021, 12:33 pm

Lavelle was a commanding presence in the heart of defence when the Shrimps defeated Newport County AFC in last week’s play-off final.

Victory at Wembley means Morecambe will play in the third tier for the first time next season.

It will see them come up against a host of big name clubs who have featured in the Premier League.

Sam Lavelle and Carlos Mendes Gomes pay tribute to Christian Mbulu after victory at Wembley

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Sunderland, Ipswich Town, Charlton Athletic and Portsmouth are all sides who have dined at English football’s top table and will now be visiting the Mazuma Stadium.

“It’s not quite sunk in yet,” Lavelle said.

“Some of the clubs we’re going to be playing against, it’s going to be some experience.

“It’s a massive difference from where we were three years ago, staying up at Coventry on the last day, and I didn’t think it would happen.”

A team tipped on a yearly basis to be relegated from League Two, the Shrimps spent this season looking at the automatic promotion places rather than over their shoulders at the other end as had been the case in recent years.

A top-three finish proved just beyond them, finishing one point behind Bolton Wanderers.

It was an achievement that surprised media, pundits, other clubs and supporters alike – and the Morecambe captain.

Lavelle acknowledged: “If I’m honest, I thought we would come eighth or ninth with a possible late push to the play-offs.

Toums (Toumani Diagouraga) keeps reminding me he said we would get promoted when he saw the players we were signing.

“He was spot on but I think the lads deserved it (play-off victory) after missing out by one point to Bolton.

“Coming back in the play-offs to beat Tranmere and Newport showed the strength of the team.”

Morecambe’s promotion came at the end of a difficult 12 months off the pitch.

In that time, the Shrimps saw the deaths of Christian Mbulu, who only joined the club in January 2020, FA Trophy-winning skipper Bob Baldwin and club stalwart Dickie Danson.

Lavelle joins Baldwin and Jim Bentley on a three-man list of players who have led Morecambe to Wembley success

A round of applause from both sets of fans took place after 34 minutes – commemorating his squad number –while his picture was also on the bench and there was a shirt with his name and number on the back.

“I did mention their names after the games with Tranmere and Newport,” Lavelle said.

“Sometimes, there are more important things than football and it puts everything in perspective.

“We paid tribute to Christian a few times on the day and gave a shirt to his family at the end, which meant a lot to them and to me as well.”

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