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Northwich Victoria F.C

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Northwich Victoria F.C

Northwich Victoria
Full name Northwich Victoria Football Club
Nickname(s) The Vics, The Trickies
Founded 1874
Ground Valley Road (temporary home)[1]
Chairman Jim Rushe (Owner)[2]
Manager Lee Ashcroft
League Northern Premier League Division One North
2012–13 Northern Premier League Division One South, 8th (moved)
Website Club home page
Home colours
Away colours
Current season

Northwich Victoria Football Club is an English football club based in Northwich, Cheshire,[3] playing its home games at Valley Road, Flixton.[4] The club currently participates in the Northern Premier League Division One North, the eighth tier of the English football league system, having been demoted from the Premier Division at the end of the 2011–12 season—despite finishing second—for a breach of league rules regarding financial matters.

The original club was founded in 1874, being named in honour of the then-reigning monarch, Queen Victoria.[5] It is one of the 100 oldest football clubs in the world, and one of the oldest 50 in England, still in existence . During its long history, the club was a founder member of several leagues including the Football League Second Division, in which it competed for only two seasons, 1892-94.

They played at the same Drill Field ground for over 125 years, which at the time was believed to be the oldest ground in the world on which football had been continuously played,[6] however after a ground sharing period with their local rivals, Witton Albion,[7] they started the 2005–06 season in their new stadium, the Victoria Stadium in Wincham, just outside Northwich and across the Trent & Mersey Canal, which separated them from their rivals. The club are no longer based in, nor play home matches in, the town or county they used to represent.


For Northwich Victoria's season-by-season statistics, see List of Northwich Victoria F.C. seasons.

Early history

The generally accepted year for Northwich Victoria's foundation is 1874 by Messrs Charles James Hughes and James Heyworth. However according to club historian Ken Edwards' book 'A Team for All Seasons', the Northwich Victoria Association Football Club organisation could have been in existence from at least 1870.[8] Northwich played their first challenge matches in the 1874 seasons and originally accepted both association football and rugby rules, shown in 1876 when they contested an away match under Rugby rules at Farnworth and Appleton F.C. (now known as Widnes Vikings) and then at home under association rules, winning both games.[9] The first time the club entered an organised competition was in 1877, when they entered the Welsh Cup, which at the time was open to Welsh teams as well as English teams situated close to the border.[10] Their best achievement in the competition was in the 1881–82 and 1888–89 seasons, when they reached the final, losing to Druids and Bangor respectively.[10] When they reached the final in 1882, they were the first English club to do so.[11] In 1880, they entered the inaugural competition for the new Cheshire Football Association Challenge Cup (Cheshire Senior Cup). The club became the first winners of the cup with a victory over Hartford St. John's, and went on to win the cup for the next five seasons, defeating in the finals Birkenhead (1881), Northwich Novelty (1882), Crewe Alexandra (1883 and 1884), and Davenham (1885).[12]

In 1890, the club became a founding member of the second incarnation of The Combination, Northwich's first league. In their second season in the league they finished runners-up.[13]

Professionalism and the Football League

A great leap forward was taken in 1892, when Northwich became one of the founding members of the English Second Division, which saw the team turn professional. In the league's inaugural season, Northwich finished 7th, the highest finish in the club's history.[13] It was during this season that the penalty kick was introduced into the Football League; the first ever in League football being scored by Tommy Scanlan of Northwich Victoria against Grimsby.[14][15] It was also during the latter stages of this season that Northwich acquired the services of Billy Meredith, the Welsh International who is widely regarded as the first football superstar.[14] At Northwich, he teamed up with Pat Finnerhan, a regular for the Northwich team for the past few seasons, and a player whom Meredith would spend more time with when both joined Manchester City in 1894. It was said by many that "Finnerhan made Meredith".[16] Northwich would remain as a professional outfit for one further season, 1893–94, during which they defeated Newcastle United 5–3 at the Drill Field, a game where Meredith scored his first hat-trick for the club. Another notable result was holding Woolwich Arsenal (now known as Arsenal F.C.) to a 2–2 draw at the Drill Field.[17] However, as a result of their final position at the bottom of the league, the club's board decided not to apply for re-election to the Football League at the end of the season. The financial burden of professional football had taken its toll on the club, who decided to return to strictly amateur, regional football in their first and previous league, The Combination, where they had a mixture of mid-table and top-half finishes up to the 1898 season, when they left the league.

In 1898, Northwich became members of the newly formed Cheshire League, where they remained for two seasons,[18] finishing 8th in their first season, and runners-up in their next season in the First Division.

Up to the middle of this decade, Northwich played in red and black horizontal stripes. However a major change in the club's appearance occurred when they adopted the colours that they still wear today; green and white.[19]

Lured by the chance of increased revenues, the club joined the Manchester League in the 1900–01 season, when they finished runners-up. Silverware came only two seasons later in the 1902–03 season when they won the league, finishing 9 points clear of their nearest challengers Newton Heath Athletic.[20]

They departed the Manchester League in the 1912–13 season, becoming members of the second division of the Lancashire Combination (not to be confused with The Combination). Their first season saw them promoted to the First Division after finishing 4th.[13]

In 1919, the club became founding members of the Cheshire County League, which was more appropriate for the club's location in the county of Cheshire. Making hard work of achieving success, Northwich won the league only once in the 1956–57 season. They continued to play in the league until the 1967–68 season.[13]


In 1968, Northwich were one of several members from the Cheshire County League to leave and become founder members of the newly created Northern Premier League. Generally finishing around mid-table or in the top half, it was the 1976–77 season when Northwich came closest to winning the league, narrowly missing out on the title on goal difference to Boston United on the final day of the season following a 1–1 draw with Scarborough.[13] In the same season Northwich had their best run in the FA Cup in modern times, reaching the Fourth Round (see FA Cup History).

In 1979, Northwich were founder members of yet another league, when the Alliance Premier League (later the Football Conference) was formed. In 1980–81, Northwich finished 4th, their highest position in the league. They were the last ever-present team when they were relegated in the 2004–05 season.[13]

The club reached the final of the FA Trophy in the 1982–83 season, but were beaten 2–1 by Telford United. However the club achieved silverware in the 1983–84 season when they defeated Bangor City 2–1 in the same competition, the FA Trophy in a replay of the final at the appropriately named Victoria Ground in Stoke-on-Trent. The first game, played at Wembley Stadium, was drawn 1–1.[13]

In the 1995–96 season, they reached the final of the FA Trophy once again, returning to Wembley for the first time since their draw and eventual victory in the competition a decade earlier. They were defeated 3–1 by Macclesfield Town.[13]

2000s and the end of the Drill Field

The new century saw Northwich face great financial difficulties and relegation, with the club nearly folding following administration in both the 2004–05 and 2009–10 seasons.

In the 2003–04 season, Northwich were slated for relegation to the Conference North division as part of the National League System restructuring, however circumstances including the bankruptcy of Telford United, Watnall Road, the ground of Hucknall Town's not being good enough and the demotion of Margate led to Northwich Victoria being allowed to remain at the Conference National level.[21]

In September of the 2004–05 season, the team went into administration, and thus were deducted 10 points under National League rules, which left them in relegation trouble. However, the team recovered and finished in 19th place, nine points clear of the relegation zone (had they not had a points deduction, they would have finished 14th). Unfortunately for Northwich, this turned out to be for nothing, as they were voluntarily demoted from the Conference National due to legal problems (after going into administration FA deadlines over the transfer of their Conference membership to the club's new owners were not met; the alternative would have been outright expulsion from the Conference, which would have forced them into starting again in one of the lower regional divisions).[22]

The 2005–06 season appeared to be a turn in the right direction for Northwich as they reached the Third Round of the FA Cup, and in the penultimate game of the season, beat their nearest rivals, Stafford Rangers, in front of more than 3,000 supporters to guarantee an immediate return to the Conference National and see them as champions of the Conference North.[23]

In October 2007 it was reported that the club was up for sale,[24] and the club's existence was again threatened due to an unpaid tax bill.[25] The club had applied to go into administration to stave off closure.[26] In December 2007, a consortium led by Jim Rushe completed a takeover, with Rushe becoming the Club's chairman.[27] The stadium is still owned by Connett's real estate company Beaconet Ltd. In January 2009 with Beaconet in receivership, Connett removed safety equipment from the stadium, causing the club to move temporarily to Altrincham's Moss Lane ground.

On 19 May 2009 the club went into administration for the second time in five years following their relegation from the Conference National; they owed around £500,000 in unpaid bills to creditors.[28] They were threatened with a double relegation to the Northern Premier League as a result of this, but ultimately won an appeal to be placed into the Conference North for the 2009–10 season.

The 2009–10 season saw Northwich achieve a mid-table finish, but due to the ongoing financial problems, the club were expelled from the league and placed in the Northern Premier League Premier Division.[29] For months following their FA Cup campaign in 2009, the club was still owed at least £180,000 of its FA Cup and TV broadcasting money by the FA, which would have allowed the club to settle their remaining debts.[30] The club received the money in December 2010, a welcome relief for the club due to the adverse weather conditions which had affected football fixtures during the Winter.[31]

During the season, Northwich won the Cheshire Senior Cup for the first time in 15 years, beating Woodley Sports on penalties. This was their first piece of silverware since they won the Conference North in 2006.[32] They remained unbeaten in the competition under the management of Andy Preece until the end of 2011 following their defeat to Stalybridge Celtic. The team won the cup twice under Preece's management.

Following the end of the 2009–10 season, most of the squad were placed on the transfer market in an effort to cut wage bills. By the start of the new season, only 3 players from the previous season remained in the squad. The reserve feeder team, Woodley F.C, became Northwich Villa, who play in Division One of the Cheshire Football League. Many of the squad for that season came through the new structure into the first teams squad.[33]

2010s and ground crisis

In February 2010, the club played Romanian Europa League side FC Unirea Urziceni in a friendly warm-up game, which Northwich lost 1–0.[34]

On 16 January 2012, it was announced that the management team of Andy Preece, Andy Morrison, and Darren Ryan would leave the club to join Airbus UK Broughton in the Welsh Premier League.[35] The following day, it was announced that the club were to be evicted from the Victoria Stadium as an unknown buyer had purchased the land. This was despite multiple assurances from Rushe that the sale of the ground was almost complete.[36] On 18 January, the buyer was confirmed as THOR Chemicals, located nextdoor to the Victoria Stadium.[37] The ground issue cast doubt on the club's continuing existence, and a possible backlash from fans against the way that their club is run.

On 1 February 2012, ex-Manchester City player and Preston North End manager Paul Simpson was named as the new manager, with Premier League winner Alan Wright as his assistant.[38] However, Simpson departed after only a month.[39] Simpson was due to take up a role in Portugal at the end of the season, however, this was brought forward to March, meaning Simpson would leave following the club's FA Trophy Quarter Final match on Saturday 25 February. His assistant, Alan Wright, oversaw a match with Rushall Olympic during Simpson's absence. On 27 February it was announced that Martin Foyle would take over until the end of the season, with Alan Wright continuing as assistant manager.

In April 2012 the Northern Premier League announced that Northwich Victoria had been expelled from the league for a breach of league rules regarding financial matters. Although lying second in the league, the club was not allowed to contest the playoffs.[40] On appeal, the FA ruled that the punishment was excessive; instead the club was relegated one step in the league.[41]

On 8 May 2012, it was announced that former Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Andy Mutch would be taking over as manager.[42]

Northwich started the 2012–13 season in the lowest league in the club's history, with their local rivals Witton Albion starting in a higher division for the first time. With no home ground and a large section of the fan-base refusing to associate with the Club or its owner, Northwich Victoria achieved its lowest ever home game attendance, with only 86 spectators witnessing a 3–4 defeat to Stamford A.F.C. [43] Mutch departed from the club on 3 November, with the club eighth in the league table.[44]

Cup History

During their long history, Northwich have had many FA Cup runs where they have reached the First Round proper and further. Their first, and best run, came in the 1883–84 season, where the side reached the Quarter Finals, defeating Druids, Davenham and Brentwood in the earlier rounds, however they ultimately suffered a heavy defeat to Blackburn Olympic in the Quarter Final.[13]

On 19 November 1892, Northwich defeated Liverpool 2–1 in the Third Qualifying Round in Liverpool's first season and are therefore the first team to eliminate them from the FA Cup.[45]

The 1976–77 season witnessed Northwich's finest hour in the FA Cup. After beating Rochdale (forcing them to two replays), they defeated Peterborough United. In the Third Round, they beat Elton John's Watford 3–2 in a pulsating match at the Drill Field. A home tie at Oldham Athletic for the 4th round was a dream tie, with the game being moved to Maine Road. Northwich lost the game 3–1 in front of a crowd of more than 29,000, their largest crowd ever.[13]

The club have reached the second round proper on several occasions; in 1979–80 (losing to Wigan Athletic in a replay), 1982–83 (Scunthorpe United), 1984–85 (Wigan Athletic), 1987–88 (Blackpool), 1988–89 (Tranmere Rovers).[13]

During the 2000–01 season, Northwich again reached the second round. Under the management of Keith Alexander, who had taken over a side who were struggling to remain in the Conference, Northwich held Football League side Bury 1–1 at Gigg Lane to secure a replay at the Drill Field. Northwich won the replay 1–0 and were drawn against Leyton Orient. After holding Orient to a 3–3 draw at Brisbane Road, Northwich ultimately lost the replay 2–3, missing out on a 3rd round tie with Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur.[13]

In the 2005–06 season, under the management of Steve Burr, Northwich reached the FA Cup third round, and were drawn against Premier League side Sunderland. On 8 January 2006, Over 3,000 supporters travelled to the Stadium of Light, where Northwich were ultimately defeated 3–0.[46]

On 24 October 2009, under the management of Andy Preece, Northwich played FC United of Manchester in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round. Northwich won the game 3–0.[47] In the First Round proper, Northwich were drawn against former Premier League side Charlton Athletic, which was televised live on ITV1, providing much needed revenue for the club. Northwich won the game 1–0.[48] Northwich were then drawn against Lincoln City, a match which was again televised on ITV1. The game was played on 28 November, with Lincoln winning the game 3–1.[49]


From their foundation in 1874, Northwich played at the Drill Field, located in the centre of Northwich. Due to the ground not meeting new safety regulations and standards, and to provide revenue for the club, the ground was demolished in 2002.[50]

In the three-year gap between the demolition of the Drill Field and the construction of Victoria Stadium, Northwich played at Wincham Park, the home of their Northwich rivals Witton Albion, which is located across the canal from the Victoria Stadium.[51]

A new ground was built in Wincham, a few miles outside of the town in the middle of a business park. It was named the Victoria Stadium, and was opened in 2005, with its official opening in 2006 by Sir Alex Ferguson.[52]

In January 2012, chairman Jim Rushe's planned purchase of the Victoria Stadium fell through and the site was sold to chemical manufacturer Thor Specialities Ltd., who were based adjacent to the stadium and planned on expanding their operation. As a result, the club was evicted from the ground with immediate effect, with its remaining home fixtures of the 2011–12 season either played at nearby venues or switched to the ground of the away team.

The club then tentatively agreed to share Marston Road, the home of Stafford Rangers located over 40 miles south of Northwich, to enable them to gain readmission to the Northern Premier League for the following season. The club hoped to secure a groundshare closer to their home town before the season started, and eventually agreed a lease on Flixton's Valley Road. However, by this point the league had already placed them in the First Division South for season 2012–13, and refused to allow the switch due to the extra travelling it would involve for away teams, and they were forced to remain at Stafford.


Northwich have a fierce rivalry with Witton Albion, another Northwich team who play less than 500 yards from the Victoria Stadium. There has been no competitive Northwich derby since 1994[53] due to the clubs playing in different leagues and not being drawn against each other in cup competitions.

Northwich also have a rivalry with Altrincham.[54][55]

1874 Northwich Football Club

A breakaway club, 1874 Northwich F.C., was founded by the Northwich Victoria Supporters Trust following a vote by its membership on 15 November 2012 occurred. The members voted in favour of breaking away from the club they supported and forming a new community owned team in their town.[56][57] It emerged, on the day of the vote, that the owner of Northwich Victoria had been declared bankrupt and therefore failed the FA Fit and Proper Persons test.[58] On 29 November 2012 fans attended an open meeting in Northwich, where they chose the name 1874 Northwich for the club.[59] In order to avoid legal issues over the new club's name, none of the proposed options presented to fans included the words Vics or Victoria.[60]

On 3 January 2013 it was confirmed that the club was officially registered with the Cheshire FA and had applied to join the North West Counties Football League in time for the 2013–14 season.[61]

On 25 April 2013 it was announced that former Winsford United and Ashton Athletic boss Ian Street would be the club's very first manager.[62] On 28 April 2013 Lee Duckworth was named as Street's assistant.[63] 1874 played their first competitive fixture on 3 August 2013, drawing 1-1 with Oldham Borough in the NWCFL in front of a crowd of 490 at the club's home for the season, Barton Stadium (Winsford United FC).

Founder members

Northwich Victoria are a founder member of several leagues, and inaugural members of cup competitions. These are:

  • Cheshire Football Association – 1878
  • Cheshire County Football Association Challenge Cup (Cheshire Senior Cup) – inaugural member and first winner – 1879
  • The Combination (second incarnation) – 1890
  • Football League Second Division (Football League Championship) – 1892
  • Cheshire County League – 1919
  • Northern Premier League – 1968
  • FA Trophy – inaugural member – 1969
  • Alliance Premier League (Football Conference) – 1979
  • Conference League Cup – inaugural member and first winner – 1979


Northwich Victoria are known to their fans by several nicknames. The most common, Vics/The Vics, is a shortening of Victoria in the club's name. They are also known as 'The Trickies', a nickname initially given to them as an insult by local rivals, a nickname that has been adopted by the clubs own fans. In old media, the club were also referred to as the Victorians (again owing to their name), and the 'Salt Boys/Men', due to Northwich's history as being a centre of the Salt trade in the United Kingdom.

Current squad

As at 20 February 2013[64]

Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
England GK Tim Deasy
England GK Josh Clarke
England DF Sam Hibbert
England DF Chris Smalley
England DF Callum Henry
England MF Ian Kilford
England DF Chris Bailey
England MF Ashley Parillon
England MF Simon Nangle
England MF Daniel Boyle
England MF Michael Thomas
No. Position Player
England MF Dale Wright
England MF Kyle Armstrong
England MF Daniel Wisdom
England MF Scott Harries
England MF Brian Summerskill
England FW Alex Taylor
England FW Gary Burnett
England FW Michael Clarke
England FW Abubakar Sheego

Notable former players

Inclusion criteria: Attained international caps, went on to/previously played at a significantly higher level of football or is notable for a specific reason.

Club officials

  • Owner: Jim Rushe
  • Chief Executive: Jim Rushe
  • Directors: Jim Rushe, Martin Rushe
  • Company Secretary: Martin Rushe
  • Football Secretary: Dave Thomas
  • Manager: Lee Ashcroft
  • Player / Assistant Manager: Ian Kilford
  • Sports Therapist: Laura Campbell
  • Club Doctor: Dr. R Chapman
  • Chief Scout : Wayne Porter
  • Media Officer: Jason Dudley


Managerial history

Dates[14] Name Notes
1933–34 Scotland Bob Ferguson
1935–47 England Billy Wootton
1947–48 England Harry Ware First term as manager.
1948–49 Scotland Sandy McNab
1949–51 England Harry Ware Second term as manager.
1951 England Billy Russell
1951–52 England Thomas Ashley Temporary charge as club Vice-President
1952–53 England Harry Ware Third term as manager.
1953–54 England Arthur Woodruff
1954 England Tom Manley
1955–57 England Jack Boothway
1957 England Ron Carey
1958–62 England Jack Bonell
1963–64 England Roy Clarke
1964–65 England Bill Heardley
1965 England Norman Kirkman
1965–66 England Ronnie Cope
1966–68 Scotland Felix Reilly[87]
1968 England Arthur Cumberlidge
1968–69 England Noel Kelly
1969 England Don Moore
1969–71 England Jack Bonell
1971–72 England John Green
1972–73 England Terry Bradbury
1973 Scotland Jackie Mudie
1973–74 England Brian Taylor
1974–75 England Tommy Spratt
1975–77 England Paul Ogden First term as manager.
1977 England Bob Murphy
1977–78 England George Heslop
1978–80 England Ray Williams
1980 England Paul Ogden Second term as manager.
1980–81 England Stan Storton
1981 Scotland Ian McNeill
1981 Scotland Lammie Robertson
1981–84 England John King
1984–85 England Terry Murphy
1985–86 England Mike Pejic
1986 England Stuart Pearson
1987–91 England Cliff Roberts
1991 England Martin Dobson
1991–93 Northern Ireland Sammy McIlroy Player-manager
1993–95 England John Williams
1995–96 England Brian Kettle
1996 England Mark Hancock
1996–98 England Phil Wilson
1998–2000 England Mark Gardiner
2000–01 England Keith Alexander
2001–03 Northern Ireland Jimmy Quinn
2003 England Steve Davis
2003 England Alvin McDonald
2003–04 England Shaun Teale
2004–07 England Steve Burr
2007 England Neil Redfearn
2007 England Paul Warhurst
2007–08 Tunisia Dino Maamria Player-manager
2008 England Mike Marsh
2008–09 England Steve King
2009–12 England Andy Preece Player-manager
2012 England Paul Simpson
2012 England Martin Foyle
2012 England Andy Mutch & Alan Wright Wright - Player-manager
2012 England Lee Ashcroft




  • Cheshire Senior Cup[14][88]
    • Winners 1879–80, 1880–81, 1881–82, 1883–84, 1884–85, 1888–89, 1928–29, 1936–37, 1949–50, 1954–55, 1971–72, 1976–77, 1978–79, 1983–84, 1993–94, 2009–10, 2010–11
    • Runners Up 1891–92, 1896–97, 1905–06, 1908–09, 1939–40, 1947–48, 1950–51, 1963–64, 1965–66, 1968–69, 1970–71, 1977–78, 1985–86, 1998–99, 2002–03, 2006–07
  • Mid-Cheshire Senior Cup
    • Winners 2009–10, 2010–11, 2011–12
  • FA Trophy[14]
    • Winners 1983–84
    • Runners Up 1982–83, 1995–96
  • Northern Premier League Challenge Cup
    • Winners 1972–73
    • Runners up 1978–79, 2010–11
  • Drinkwise Cup[14]
    • Winners 1992–93


  • Record victory — 17–0 v. Marple Ass. (Cheshire Senior Cup) (7 February 1931)
  • Highest attendance — 11,290 v. Witton Albion (Good Friday 1949)
  • Highest attendance (at any ground) — 28,635 v. Oldham Athletic FA Cup Fourth Round – Maine Road – (Saturday 1.1.77; Northwich 1–3 Oldham)
  • Most appearances — 961, Ken Jones (1969–85)
  • Most goals scored (overall) — 160, Peter Burns (1955–66)
  • Most goals scored (season) — 60 in 47 games, Len Barber (1956–57)
  • Record transfer fee paid — £10,000 to Hyde United for Malcolm O'Connor (August 1988) and £10,000 to Kidderminster Harriers for Delwyn Humphreys (September 1995)
  • Record transfer fee received — £50,000 from Chester City for Neil Morton (October 1990) and £50,000 from Leyton Orient for Gary Taylor-Fletcher (June 2001)[81]
  • Highest League finish – 1st – Conference North (2005–06)
  • Best FA Cup run – Quarter Final (1883–84)[13][14]


External links

  • Official website
  • Northwich Victoria Supporters Trust

Coordinates: 53°27′16.02″N 2°23′54.09″W / 53.4544500°N 2.3983583°W / 53.4544500; -2.3983583

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