Even though felt we’d been stuck in the Conference for ages at times, it was nowhere near as long as Northwich Victoria. The Vics were properly part of the Conference furniture – and more so than we ever were. They were one of the founder members back in 1979. And they had endured all the way through until 2005. By this point, however, things were starting to get messy. Propping up the table come the end of the 2003-4 season, it was only the demise of Telford United that’d stop them from going down.
The next season saw the Vics land on the right side of that dreaded dotted line. But issues with the lease on their ground didn’t go down well with the authorities and they were booted into Conference North; handing the Conference Head Boy title over to us in the process. Such is their longevity (and temporary return) to the top flight of non-league football, you can’t be shocked to know they aren’t far off the top of our list of most-played teams. More off-field problems followed in 2009 and the club were relegated again at the end of the 2008-9 season.
The off-field issues that saw them relegated in 2005 and again in 2009 are a sad indictment on a club that had lasted longer than most. Formed in 1874, Northwich Victoria were involved at the business end of the Welsh Cup during the early years. Beaten finalists is the best they could achieve, however, and that’s perhaps for the best. After all, they’re not Welsh. In terms of league competition, the Vics entered The Combination in 1891 and came second at the – erm – second attempt. It’s not a title, but it is significant.
In 1892, the Vics were elected into the Football League! A respectable first season was followed by a terrible second; coming bottom of the pile. They didn’t stand for re-election and left the competition. If only they’d have tried… could you imagine what may have become of the Vics’ tale? Anyway, it was back to non-league and non-league they would ultimately stay. On more than one occasion, they were founder members of league competitions as well: the Cheshire County League (1919), Northern Premier League (1968), and Alliance Premier League (1979).
Life after the top flight of non-league football has been tough. They were kicked out of the Conference completely in 2010, moving back to the Northern Premier League. By the end of the 2016-7 season, administration had cost them 10 points once more; resulting in their relegation to the North West Counties League. How bad did things get for the Vics? Well, a breakaway club – 1874 Northwich – was formed in 2012 and now play at a higher level. We haven’t even got onto the story of what happened to their old Drill Field home.
How to get to Northwich Victoria – Travel Information – Distance: 162 miles
From Stevenage, get to the M1 and go north to join the M6 for Northwich. Once on the M6, head north until you reach junction 18 and then head west along the A54. As you reach the town of Middlewich, go over aroundabout and continue on the A54 – before turning right onto the A530.
Head north along the A530 until you reach the outskirts of Northwich; continuing straight over the next roundabout on the A530. After passing underneath the railway bridge, turn right at the end of the road onto the A559. Next, turn left just after a pub on what should still be the A559. About 0.7 miles up this road will be a left turn into Wincham Lane.
Keep on this road until you pass over the canal and turn left for the stadium access road.
You should have no issues finding a parking spot at the stadium thanks to the decent-sized car park available right outside.
Station: NORTHWICH (LOSTOCK GRALAM)
Services to: STOCKPORT (for LONDON EUSTON and DONCASTER)
The journey to Northwich that takes the least time – though still over four hours – is one that goes via Kings Cross and Euston. Take a train into London and then catch a West Coast service from Euston to Stockport. A Northern Rail connection complete the route.
For where the ground is, it may be easier to get off the train at Lostock Gralam. Northern Rail services usually stop here as far as we know. From Lostock Gralam, turn left onto Station Road before crossing the Manchester Road into Hall Lane. After about 0.7 miles, turn left into Wincham Lane, and in 500 yards, turn left into Wincham Avenue.
From Northwich station, exit onto Station Road, and turn right. At the roundabout, cross over Chester Way and head up New Warrington Road for just over half a mile. Turn right into Chapel Street, and continue for under half a mile or so, before turning right.
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