|Full name||Chorley Football Club|
|Ground||Victory Park, Chorley|
|Capacity||4,300 (900 seated)|
|League||National League North|
|2017–18||National League North, 6th of 22|
The club was founded as a rugby union club in 1875 but switched to football in 1883. They have reached the FA Cup second round twice, in 1986–87 and 1990–91. Their best performance in the FA Trophy was in 1995–96 when they reached the semi-finals.
The club's home colours are black and white stripes, hence the nickname The Magpies.
Chorley Football Club was formed in 1883 after switching from rugby to football. In 1875 Chorley Football Club began partly as the brainchild of one Major John Lawrence, a Wigan player who had conceived the idea a year earlier. The inauguration took place on 15 October in the now demolished Anchor Inn in Market Street, Chorley. At that gathering Major Lawrence was elected the club's first captain. Henry Hibbert, who was to become one of the most famous figures ever connected with the town as Member of Parliament for Chorley, took on the role of secretary. James Lawrence became the club treasurer.
After playing rugby for seven years, pressure was on Chorley to switch to playing football instead, and in 1883 the switch was made.
Chorley joined the Lancashire Junior League in 1889, and the following year became a member of the Lancashire Alliance, a league which they were crowned champions of in 1892–93 and runners-up in 1893–94. In 1894 Chorley joined the Lancashire League, becoming champions twice in 1896–97 and 1898–99.
The Lancashire Junior Cup came to Chorley in 1894, nine years after the trophy's institution, and their win was the first of a record number of successes for the Magpies. They beat Clitheroe 3–2 in a replayed final at Ewood Park, Blackburn after a 2–2 draw. Chorley bid farewell to the Lancashire Alliance at the end of the 1893–94 season and joined the Lancashire League, winning the championship in 1896–97 which also saw them sell former Bolton Wanderers attacker Jack Lyden to Wolverhampton Wanderers for £100 (around £6,000 in today's money), a substantial fee for a non-league player considering that this was eight years prior to the first £1,000 transfer deal.
Chorley won another championship in 1898–99, but was clouded by a notice to quit their Dole Lane Ground, and the loss of captain Johnny Parker, who had broken his leg. In May 1899 Chorley applied to join the Football League's Second Division, coming sixth in voting, with the top two being elected.
September 1901 saw Chorley move to the Rangletts Ground, taking even the grandstand and hoardings, and 1903 saw the Lancashire League restructured as the Lancashire Combination, which was extended in size to encompass two divisions, A and B, with Chorley playing in the Combination B Division. Life at the Rangletts Ground was short lived, with Chorley being evicted in 1904, and relocated to nearby St. George's Park. The 1904–05 season saw Chorley finish their highest position – fifth – for six years.
Chorley suffered their worst season in 1914–15, finishing bottom of the league, but ironically the outbreak of the First World War saved them from relegation, for the Combination, like the Football League, suspended its competitions in 1915. During the war Chorley joined the Northern Division but due to difficulties in raising a team they were disbanded early in 1916. Chorley did not have a team for the next two seasons, but in August 1918 formed a side for friendly matches. After the re-formation of the Combination S. Heaton became the club chairman, Charlie Holgate the secretary, and T.J. "Dod" Gaskell the treasurer.
Chorley took their place in the reassembled Combination (there was only one division by now) with what proved to be one of their finest-ever teams. The 1920s were to bring a phrase of glory and the team was among the honours for ten successive seasons. But the beginning of one era coincided with the end of another. Just 14 years after playing their first home game at St. Georges Park, Chorley announced in August 1919 that they had acquired a new ground. It was to come into use the following year and was to be a truly permanent home. The ground, situated in Duke Street and adjoining Rangletts Recreation Ground, a former Magpie base, was named Victory Park to commemorate the end of the war.
Chorley did not achieve notable success in any league until the 1919–20 season when they were crowned champions of the Lancashire Combination First Division, a league they won a total of eleven times between 1919 and 1964.
In 1968–69 Chorley were one of the founder members of the Northern Premier League, left at the end of the season, and rejoined in the 1970–71 season. Chorley joined the Cheshire League in the 1972–73 season, finishing as runners-up in 1975–76, and another two times in 1976–77 and 1981–82.
Chorley rejoined the Northern Premier League in 1982–83, and became champions in 1987–88, which saw them promoted to the GM Vauxhall Conference – the fifth tier of the English football league system. Chorley spent two seasons in the GM Vauxhall Conference before being relegated back to the Northern Premier League in 1990–91.
After a brief run of success in the FA Trophy in 1995–96, reaching the semi-final, and no significant success since their brief stay in the GM Vauxhall Conference, Chorley were relegated to the Northern Premier League Division One in 1999, where they remained until the 2006–07 season when they were relegated to the Northern Premier League Division One North Season 2010–11 saw them promoted to the Evo-Stik Premier League after a Play-off Final at home versus AFC Fylde. After a string of managers in the 1990s and 2000s, coupled with no progression from the Northern Premier League, Chorley looked for a radical change by bringing in Tony Hesketh as manager in early 2008. Hesketh has used his experience to bring a degree of success gradually, despite financial difficulties. Hesketh believed in a passing game, and entertaining his side's supporters, and a run of five wins in eight games from Boxing Day, 2008 brought fresh belief to Victory Park.
Tony Hesketh resigned as manager from the club in April 2009, citing poor resources as the reason. Assistant Manager Phil Brown took over as caretaker manager until the end of the season. Chorley finished 14th out of 21 teams.
Ken Wright then appointed managerial duo of Steve Waywell and Lawrie "Lol" McMahon for the start of the 2009–10 season. Come mid-February the club was 10th in the league and still in touch of the play-offs, but only winning 3 of their last 16 games and picking up just 2 points in the final 8 games, Chorley finished 17th in the league, their worst finish in 3 seasons. This miserable record in the final third prompted Ken Wright to sack the pair at the end of the final game at Trafford.
Just over two weeks later on 10 May 2010, Ken Wright announced to the press that former Leigh Genesis high-profile manager Garry Flitcroft would take over the managerial reins at Chorley F.C. for the coming season.
Flitcroft's reign as Chorley manager started with Chorley's best ever start to a season, beating Woodley Sports 6–0, Curzon Ashton 6–2, Radcliffe Borough 4–1 and Prescot Cables 5–2. The 'Flitcroft Effect' has also brought more fans to Victory Park than in the past decade, with an average attendance across the first four home games of 631.
Flitcroft and Chorley's season finished with the team occupying 3rd place in the table and moved into the playoff semi-final with home advantage over 4th placed Curzon Ashton. The game ended 2–1 with goals from Dale Whitham and Adam Roscoe.
Chorley contested the Northern Premier League Division One North play-off Final against Fylde on 6 May 2011 and after hitting the crossbar through midfielder Dale Whitham, took the lead halfway through the first half through striker Steve Foster. Chorley then came under pressure in the second half from Fylde as they looked for a way back into the game and went close through substitute Matt Walwyn, but Chris Howarth denied him an equaliser by saving with his feet. Chorley's next attack brought about the 2nd goal as Jack Dorney's 20th of the season flew in from a 25-yard strike in the 86th minute. The final whistle promptly sparked a pitch invasion and the majority of the crowd 2,950 saw Chorley lift the vase and celebrate promotion to the Northern Premier League Premier Division.
Chorley's return to the Northern Premier League Premier Division saw them finish in a creditable third place and gain a place in the end of season promotion play-offs. Hopes of successive promotions were dashed however after a 2–0 defeat to FC United of Manchester. Silverware was forthcoming though in the shape of a 2–1 victory over Kendal Town in the Lancashire FA Trophy final at the Reebok Stadium, Bolton.
In the 2012–13 season, Chorley finished outside the playoffs in 8th place. This was down to a disappointing run from the end of October to the end of December, winning just 1 of their 9 games. Chorley then went undefeated for 6 weeks and 8 games, to haul themselves into the top ten, which is where they stayed until the end of the season. The biggest win was against Kendal Town (5–0) and the biggest defeat was against Rushall Olympic (1–6)
In the 2013–14 season, Chorley won the Northern Premier League Premier Division with a 2–0 win over Buxton sealing the title with both goals coming from Josh Hine, thus gaining promotion to the Conference North. They also recorded a 13–1 win against Droylsden, their third biggest win in their history and the highest margin of goals since 1946 on Good Friday, when they beat Morecambe 14–1
In the 2014–15 season, Chorley finished in 4th place in the Conference North and went out in the Play Off Final losing 2–3 at home against Guiseley after beating Boston United in the Semi-final.
On 2 July 2015, Flitcroft stepped down as manager due to work and family commitments and assistant Matt Jansen was appointed first team manager. Flitcroft stayed at the club in a director's role.
In Jansen's three years at the helm The Magpies finished 8th, 6th and 6th in the National League North, reaching the play-off final in 2016-17 before losing to FC Halifax Town and play-off semi-finals in 2017-18, bowing out to eventual winners Harrogate Town. The club also reached the first round proper of the FA Cup for the first time in 27 years, losing 2-1 at home to Fleetwood Town in front of their biggest home crowd of the 2017-18 campaign (3,528).
On 22 June 2018 Jansen resigned as manager and was replaced the following day by long-time assistant Jamie Vermiglio.
In October 2011 a Chorley F.C. official was arrested and bailed on suspicion of stealing over £50,000 from the club. As a result of this the club was forced to delay payment to players and launched a campaign to save the club with the help of local businesses.
In March 2013 Ian Daniels pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court to charges relating to the theft from the club. His codefendant, former club accountant Philip Haslam, had already pleaded guilty a few weeks earlier. Both men received custodial sentences
Construction of Victory Park was completed in 1920 at a cost of £1,000. The stadium was named to commemorate the end of the First World War. The ground was very different from the Victory Park of today, as both ends of the ground were exposed to the weather and there was no concrete terracing. The grandstand was a modest wooden structure with accommodation for 600. Chorley, with the aid of £654 raised by a special bazaar, bought Victory Park in 1926 for £868. The Supporters' Club provided £100.
In November 1945 a fire broke out and destroyed the main wooden stand shortly after it had been vacated following an FA Cup tie against Accrington Stanley, which had been attended by a crowd of 4,019. The stand was practically destroyed and gutted all but the dressing rooms, and the efforts of firemen could not prevent the loss of valuable property, equipment and playing kit. Work on the new grandstand began in 1947, costing £5,500 – five and a half times the price of the original one.
Statistics and records
Peter Watson holds the record for the highest number of goals scored in a single season with 71 (57 league goals) in the 1960–61 season. Peter Watson also holds the highest aggregate goalscorer record of 372 (287 league, 85 cup) between September 1958 and February 1966.
Chorley's record attendance was 15,153 v Preston North End in the FA Cup, played at Ewood Park, home of Blackburn Rovers on 6 December 1986. At Victory Park Chorley's record attendance was 9,679 in a FA Cup 4th qualifying round match against Darwen on 15 November 1932.
- As of 10 December 2018
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
- Life president: Brian Pilkington
- Chairman: Ken Wright
- Vice-chairman/ Club Secretary: Graham Watkinson
- Directors: Glen Hutchinson, Simon Denham
- Non-executive director: Richard Clithero
- Associate director: Michael Godsmark
- Manager: Jamie Vermiglio
- Assistant managers: Andy Preece & Jonathan Smith
- Goalkeeper coach: Dave Hedley
- Physio: Dave Rhodes
- Under-21s manager: Ben Howard
- Under-18s manager: Declan Williams
- Commercial Manager/ Club Photographer: Josh Vosper
- Head of Media: Alex Birch
- Media team: Chris Park & Oran Willis
- Groundsman: Ben Kay
Notable former players
Players who played for Chorley who also received at least one international cap for their country:
- Mickey Walsh – Republic of Ireland international, and winner of 1975 BBC Goal of the Season.
- Paul Mariner – England international and winner of the FA Cup and UEFA Cup.
- Northern Premier League
- Lancashire Combination
- Cheshire League
- Lancashire League
- Champions 1896–97, 1898–99
- Lancashire FA Trophy
- Winners 1894, 1909, 1924, 1940, 1946, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1976, 1980, 1982, 1983, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2018
- Runners-up 2008, 2014
- ""In Black & White"" Chorley Football Club's Official History by John F. Newman.
- Locke, Mark (24 May 2012). "Ground". Chorley FC. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
- ""The official match programme of Chorley Football Club"". Chorley Football Club – with passion we strive – 10 March 2009.
- "The First Team". Chorley F.C. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
- Locke, Mark. "Board of Directors". Chorley FC. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
- Locke, Mark. "Management Team". Chorley FC. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
- Locke, Mark (1 June 2012). "Staff & Volunteers". Chorley FC. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
- Locke, Mark (30 May 2012). "Welcome to Chorley FC". Chorley FC. Retrieved 3 September 2018.