Warrington Town F.C.
|Full name||Warrington Town Football Club|
|Nickname(s)||The Wire, The Yellows, The Town|
|Founded||1949 (as Stockton Heath)|
|Ground||Cantilever Park, Warrington|
|League||Northern Premier League Premier Division|
|2017–18||Northern Premier League Premier Division, 3rd of 24|
Warrington Town Football Club is an association football club based in Warrington, Cheshire. They were established in 1949 under the name of Stockton Heath Albion, adopting their current name in 1961.
Formed in 1949 by Jimmy Drinkwater, the club was initially named Stockton Heath Albion and competed in the Warrington and District League until 1953, when they moved to the Mid Cheshire League. Freddie Worrall became manager at the same time, and during a 13-year spell in charge, the club won the league in 1959–60 plus the League Cup in three consecutive seasons during the 1950s. During his thirteen years at the helm, Heath were one of the most feared sides in Cheshire football, winning a string of honours including the Mid Cheshire League Championship in 1959–60, the League Cup in 1953–54, 1954–55, 1955–56 and made several appearances in the Cheshire Amateur Cup Final. Several players from this successful period went on to join Football League clubs, including Ian Weir, John Green, Alan Foster and Roger Hunt, later a World Cup winner with England in 1966.
At the club's 1961 AGM, it was decided to change the name to Warrington Town. In 1978 the club were founder members of Division Two of the Cheshire County League. When it merged into the North West Counties Football League in 1982, the club were founder members of Division Three. They finished as runners-up in the first season, earning promotion to Division Two. In 1985–86 Warrington reached the semi-finals of the FA Vase, losing 6–3 to Halesowen Town in a replay. After finishing as runners-up in Division Two in 1986–87, the club were promoted to Division One. In the same season they reached the FA Vase final, where they lost 3–2 to local rivals St Helens Town
In 1989–90 Warrington Town won Division One, and were promoted to the Northern Premier League. In 1992–93 they reached the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy, eventually losing 2–1 at Sutton United, and also became the first Division One club to reach the final of the League Cup, losing on penalties to Winsford United. The season also saw the club sell Neil Whalley to Football League Third Division side Preston North End for a £25,000, equalling the record fee paid for a Northern Premier League player. A few weeks later Warrington also sold Liam Watson to Preston for a record £60,000.
After finishing second bottom of the league in 1996–97, the club were relegated back to Division One of the North West Counties League. The following season they were demoted, failing ground grading. In the 1998–99 season, teenage striker Damien Whitehead set a new club record of 52 goals in just 42 appearances, before signing for Football League Division Three side Macclesfield Town at the end of the season. The 1999–2000 season saw Town win the Second Division Trophy beating Tetley Walker F.C (known as The Holden Final) 2–0 at Prescot Cables, with two goals from Neal Holden, whilst the following season saw Warrington win Division Two and earn promotion back to Division One. They finished fifth in 2003–04, and were promoted to Division One of the Northern Premier League as part of the restructuring that led to the creation of the Conference North and South. When Division One was split into northern and southern sections in 2007, the club were placed in the southern division, but were moved to the northern section the following season.
In 2014–15 the club reached the first round proper of the FA Cup for the first time in their history, where they beat League Two club Exeter City 1–0 with a 7th-minute header from defender and plasterer Craig Robinson, the brother of then MK Dons manager Karl Robinson, in a giant-killing at Cantilever Park. The game was shown live on BBC Two. In the second round, Warrington Town lost 0–2 at Gateshead, televised live on BT Sport.
On 30 April 2015, the club lifted its first trophy in 14 years by defeating Farsley Celtic in the final of the Northern Premier League Challenge Cup (then called the Doodson Sport Cup) at Edgeley Park on penalties after the game finished scoreless.
The 2015–16 season began with Warrington Town aiming for promotion to the Northern Premier League Premier Division for the first time in the club's history. During the season the club set many new club records including scoring over 100 league goals and also winning over 30 league games in one season. Attendances at the club increased with a seasons average of 418 per game, including two crowds of over 1,000 for the games against Northwich Victoria and Prescot Cables
There was to be no repeat of the previous seasons FA Cup run as Town exited at the first hurdle in late August losing to Abbey Hey F.C.
After a relatively poor start to the season, with a win, a loss and 2 draws plus the FA Cup exit, Town embarked on an unbeaten run in the league of 9 wins and a draw from end August to mid October. During this unbeaten run, manager Shaun Reid was absent through illness for much of September, with Stuart Mellish, Lee Smith and the rest of the coaching staff standing in.
In the FA Trophy, Town won through 2 rounds before losing to AFC Fylde in November. The defence of the NPL Challenge Cup lasted just one match as they lost to Ramsbottom in a 3-times postponed match in early December.
There was another impressive unbeaten run in the league of 15 wins and a draw from late October until the first week of March, including separate runs of 5 and 6 clean sheets.
On 11 February, the Club parted company with manager Shaun Reid by mutual consent. The Club decided not to renew his contract at the end of the season and the board agreed to his request to be released from his contract immediately. Stuart Mellish & Lee Smith took over as the management team until the end of the season.
This did not seem to affect the club's bid for promotion as Town lost only 2 more league games in the season, winning the other 12 games.
Needing just one point from the last 3 games of the season, Town won 6–1 at home against Prescot Cables in front of over 1400 spectators to seal the Championship title with 2 games remaining.
The final league record was 34 wins, 4 draws and just 4 defeats. Town won Division One North by 15 points setting division records of 106 points and 121 goals scored, beating the records set in the 2012–13 season. Town also scored in every one of the 42 league games.
Striker & Town captain Ciaran Kilheeney was the top scorer in all 3 NPL divisions with 37 league goals (the next highest was 29 goals). (He also scored 4 cup goals during the season.)
The team had an inconsistent start to the season. Town exited both the FA Cup and the FA Trophy in the first game. Also, several league games were lost to teams near the bottom of the table, while beating Blyth Spartans and Buxton who were in the top 4.
After 16 games while 6th in the table & immediately following a home defeat by Workington, on 15 October 2016 the Club parted company with their management duo of Stuart Mellish and Lee Smith by mutual consent. Reserve team coach Steve Hayes & Andy McCann stepped in as caretakers the day before a creditable away draw at Rushall Olympic. About a week later, on 26 October 2016, former Southport & Tranmere Rovers manager Paul Carden was appointed as the new manager. Former Burscough manager & ex-Warrington Town player Mark Beesley was appointed as first team coach. Craig Robinson returned as assistant manager.
The new management team oversaw a large turnover of players, with a number of younger players coming in and only two of the 2015/15 championship winning team remaining as regulars by the end of the season. Stability wasn't helped by a large number injuries during the season.
The inconsistent form continued for the rest of the season. A good run of 8 wins & 1 defeat in February & March took Town into the last of the playoff positions. However, a combination of close rivals taking advantage of their games in hand and some defeats & draws for Town meant that Warrington fell out of the play-off picture.
Warrington finished in 10th place (of 24 teams) in their first ever season in the Northern Premier League Premier Division.
Paul Carden and Mark Beesley remained as the management team, with Craig Robinson leaving the club to continue his playing career.
Town started the 2017–18 Northern Premier League season well with 6 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss. After a dozen league games & before the FA Trophy games, Paul Carden agreed a new 21⁄2 year contract with the club to remain as manager until the end of the 2019/20 season.
A good run of results in the league, marred by some inconsistent performances, kept Town in the play-off picture in a close title race up to the end of the calendar year.
The first half of the league season finished in late December with Town in 4th position. They had games in hand over some teams and had played more than others.
After the turn of the year, an excellent run of results kept Town in the promotion picture. One defeat in 12 games saw Town at one time just a point behind leaders Altrincham who were having a spell of indifferent results.
Following bad weather & the FA Trophy cup run, in common with most teams at the top of the league Town had a big fixture backlog. Town had a bad spell of results in late March and April. Some good results against promotion rivals confirmed Town's place in the playoffs but this contrasted with some poor results against teams lower in the table. Altrincham pulled away to clinch the championship with two games to spare, eventually winning the league by 13 points. Town finished third, just 3 goals behind the second placed team on goal difference.
The third place finish earned Town a home playoff semi-final against Grantham Town. However, injuries, suspensions and unavailability caught up with Town and they were well beaten.
Despite the slightly disappointing end to the season, the third place finish was the highest position in the history of the club.
Town had their best run in the FA Trophy since 1992–93, starting at the end of October with a win in the 1st qualifying round against Bamber Bridge from NPL Division One North. The next 3 rounds all went to replays! NPL Ashton United were beaten away on penalties in a replay. Town fully deserved a 3–0 win against National League North Tamworth in the replay, and NPL Altrincham were beaten away in a replay of the 1st round proper tie.
The 2nd round tie was a long away trip to Ebbsfleet United (in Kent) of the National League, two divisions above Town. Town had the better of the game, in the lead until an Ebbsfleet equaliser in the 93rd min. Town deservedly won the home replay 2–0 to reach the last 16 (the 3rd round). Town's run came to an end in early February with another away tie against Wealdstone F.C. of National League South. Two controversial decisions (an offside which ruled out a Town goal & a dubious penalty to Wealdstone) resulted in a 2–1 loss when Town again were the better team.
The club played firstly at Stockton Lane Stockton Heath in 1949, arriving at London Road in 1950, then moving to its first ground on Loushers lane (the Cheshire Police Ground) in 1953, returning to further down Stockton Lane in Grappenhall in 1955. The following year, moved to Cantilever Park, which has a capacity of 2,500 as of November 2014. It takes its name from the Cantilever Bridge, a high-level road bridge on Ackers Road over the Manchester Ship Canal that towers over the ground to the east. The ground itself is on the northern bank of the canal. The ground consists of 3 stands one of which is seated.
- Northern Premier League
- Northern Premier League Division One North Champions 2015–16
- Northern Premier League Challenge Cup
- Winners 2014–15
- North West Counties League
- Mid-Cheshire League
- Champions 1960–61
- League Cup Winners 1953–54, 1954–55, 1955–56
- Northern Combination Cup
- Winners 1989–90
- Altrincham Cup
- Winners 1954–55
- Runcorn Challenge Cup
- Winners 1965–66, 1966–67, 1968–69
- Warrington Guardian Challenge Cup
- Winners 1980–81, 1994–95
- Raab Karcher Cup
- Winners 1987–88