Spare a thought for Northwich Vics
Please spare a thought for Northwich Victoria. Despite sitting 2nd in the Northern Premier League and going well in the FA Trophy the last week has been catastrophic. First manager Andy Preece and his backroom staff left for Airbus UK in the Welsh League, then bailiffs issued an eviction notice on the club’s Victoria Stadium. The club need to be out by the weekend when the demolition men move in.
Homeless and managerless, Vics are staring down the barrel at extinction. As a club Vics were founder members of the Second Division (now Championship) and the home of great players from days gone by such as Billy Meredith, Bruce Grobelaar, Alan Kennedy, Gordon Hill and Sammy McIlroy. More recently Vics have helped develop the career of modern players such as Blackpool’s Gary Taylor-Fletcher, Charlton’s Scott Wagstaff and German U21 international Felix Bastians.
It’s a proper club with proper fans, if such a cliche can still be used. Fans who will remember not only the 1-0 win over Charlton in the FA Cup a few years back, the 1996 FA Trophy Final at Wembley and the 2006 Conference North championship, but also a record stint in the Football Conference without promotion or relegation and a rivalry with neighbours Witton Albion that author Stuart Maconie described as the most pointlessly intense in English football.
It’s been ups and downs all the way for the Trickies, rarely threatening the status quo and all to often flirting with disaster in recent years. But it’s a club that despite suffering from being such close neighbours with the powers of Manchester and Liverpool still manages to produce talent and attract fans.
Football is such a part of this countries culture that more should be done to support non-league teams, especially in a world of Glazers and Henrys, Sheikhs and Oligarchs. The poor management over the years at clubs like Vics and Darlington has no doubt contributed to their respective plights (I still blame Mike Connett for a lot of the problems at Vics) but they play a valuable role along with numerous other non-league clubs in cultivating the stars of the future. Not everyone can immediately sign for a top club, or even a league club. Non-league football gives young players a chance to grow and fans a chance to watch football at an affordable price.
Just imagine the fortunes of many clubs (and national teams) without the following…
Stuart Pearce, Vinnie Jones, Ian Wright, Jermaine Beckford, Steve Guppy, Chris Smalling, David Stockdale, DJ Campbell, Les Ferdinand, Kerry Dixon, Stan Collymore, Kevin Phillips, Alan Pardew, Junior Agogo, Craig Mackail-Smith, Michael Kightly, Sam Ricketts, Alan Smith (ex-Arsenal), Anthony Pilkington, Ben Foster, Gary Breen, Warren Barton, Lee Trundle, Iain Dowie, Grant Holt, Steve Morison, Luke Varney, Gary Charles, Andy Townsend, Neville Southall, Efan Ekoku, Steve Claridge, Jimmy Bullard, Maik Taylor, John Bishop (not a footballer, but the popular comedian was on the books at Winsford United)…
So if there are any rich benefactors out there then please, please, PLEASE save Northwich Victoria (or any other struggling non-league side).