Northwich Victoria F.C.
|Full name||Northwich Victoria Football Club|
|Nickname(s)||The Vics, The Trickies|
|Ground||Wincham Park, Northwich (Groundshare with Witton Albion F.C.)|
|Chairman||Derek Nuttall |
|League||Northern Premier League
Division One North
|2014–15||Northern Premier League
Division One North, 4th
|Website||Club home page|
Northwich Victoria Football Club is an English football club based in Northwich, Cheshire, playing its home games at Wincham Park, Northwich, the home of Witton Albion. 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. 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, however after a ground sharing period with their local rivals, Witton Albion, 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.
- 1 History
- 2 Grounds
- 3 Rivalries
- 4 Founder members
- 5 Nicknames
- 6 Current squad
- 7 Club officials
- 8 Honours
- 9 Records
- 10 References
- 11 External links
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. 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. 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. 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. When they reached the final in 1882, they were the first English club to do so. 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).
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. 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. 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. 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". 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. 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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
In October 2007 it was reported that the club was up for sale, and the club's existence was again threatened due to an unpaid tax bill. The club had applied to go into administration to stave off closure. In December 2007, a consortium led by Jim Rushe completed a takeover, with Rushe becoming the Club's chairman. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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.
2010s and ground crisis
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. 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. On 18 January, the buyer was confirmed as THOR Chemicals, located next door to the Victoria Stadium. The ground issue cast doubt on the club's continuing existence, and a possible backlash from fans against the way that their club was being 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. However, Simpson departed after only a month. 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. On appeal, FA ruled that the punishment was excessive; instead the club was relegated one step in the league.
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. Mutch departed from the club on 3 November, with the club eighth in the league table.
1874 Northwich Football Club
A breakaway club, 1874 Northwich F.C., now play in the North West Counties League Premier Division. They were founded by the Northwich Victoria Supporters Trust following a vote by its membership on 15 November 2012 to break away from the club they supported and form a new community owned team, initially playing in Winsford. 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. Supporters chose the name 1874 Northwich for the club as a nod to their past whilst giving a distinctive and memorable name for their future; 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. They were promoted in their first season despite finishing third (one place below automatic promotion) due to the sad demise of Formby FC who finished in 2nd spot.
In their first season in the Premier Division they finished in 3rd place and it is now generally agreed that the vast majority of former fans of the Vics now follow 1874 as the old club is seen as a discredited organisation.
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.
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 against 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.
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).
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.
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.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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, the ground at Flixton did not meet ground grading requirements for the Northern Premier League. The club then unsuccessfully appealed the leagues refusal to allow the sub-standard ground at Flixton and followed this up with a second unsuccessful appeal as to their placement in the Southern division of the Northern Premier League. The club were forced to remain at Stafford, and were subsequently denied the appeal to switch to the Northern division due to the extra travelling for the away clubs.
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.
As at 24 September 2014
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.