Lancaster City boss Mark Fell returns to dugout following diagnosis of serious medical condition

Lancaster City manager Mark Fell back at Giant Axe. Picture: Tony North
Lancaster City manager Mark Fell back at Giant Axe. Picture: Tony North

Boss Mark Fell is determined to ensure his health struggles will not derail Lancaster City’s promotion bid in the NPL Premier Division.

The Dolly Blues manager has had to take some time away from the game after being diagnosed with a serious health condition at the back end of last year.

His assistant Graham Lancashire took charge of first team affairs while he underwent treatment for his illness.

Happily, Fell has been back in the City dugout over the Christmas period resuming his managerial duties, although he faces more time away next month when he is due in hospital for an operation.

The City boss admits the past month or so has been a hugely difficult time for him personally.

But he has thanked the “unbelievable support” he has received from the club as he looks to return to full health and hopefully guide the club to success over the second half of the season.

“It was a huge shock when I was diagnosed with my condition,” said Fell.

“But you have to deal with whatever life throws at you.

“It’s not something I can dwell on – I have to deal with it and do as I am told.

“I have undergone treatment and I need an operation next month which will mean I will be away from the club for another period of time.

“I am winning though, it’s going in the right direction. I’ve a few hurdles to get over, but I have a positive mindset which helps and I am confident I will get out the other side.

“I think I will be better for it as well, I will have a bit more perspective.

“The club have been absolutely fantastic – the chairman, the Board, the supporters, my assistant Graham Lancashire.

“Some chairmen in this situation could look to appoint another manager and I couldn’t blame them.

“But they have supported me and I have got some great people around me.

“Lanky is a great friend of mine first and foremost – I’ve known him a long time. He is somebody I trust.

“Football is a strange place. There’s lot of people you can’t trust or are in it for themselves. It can be a toxic environment.

“It’s important that you have people around you who you can trust and I definitely have that here.

“I have had loads of well-wishes from people at the club, fans – even messages from people I have fallen out with. They have all said that health is more important.”

While Fell has been receiving treatment, City have endured a slightly sticky spell on the pitch. They also lost twice over Christmas.

However, they looked back to their best on Saturday when they thumped Morpeth Town 4-1, playing a large proportion of the match with 10 men after Sam Bailey was sent off.

Despite the recent upheavals both on and off the pitch, the club remains in second spot in the table.

“We have no right to be where we are,” said Fell, who takes his team to Grantham Town this weekend.

“We were the favourites to go down with the bookies – I think we were 150/1 to get out of this division at the start of the season. We have 18 games left and one cup semi-final and they are all going to be like cup finals.”

City will be without the suspended Bailey and Paul Dawson this weekend.