By Matt Waters
We formed our club in 2012. We were disenchanted by football. A special meeting was called, and on the 15th of November 2012, 141 members of the Northwich Victoria Supporter’s Trust created history, to vote in favour of a new club. The result was a landslide. We wanted a team and a community to call our own. And on that day in 2012, that’s exactly what we got. And from that, we chose the name; we chose the colours and we chose the badge.
When 1874 Northwich were established in 2012, we set about with the aim of living within our means, and if we did so, we would one day be able to play our football in our hometown. It was for this reason we spent our first six seasons playing in a neighbouring town. However, this season we have seen the reward of sticking to this principle – we now play in Barnton, a small village just outside the town of Northwich.
Right now, it may not be our permanent home, but in the near distant future, this will kick-start our local community work. Since our inception, we have worked with many superb local charities that have meant so much to our local community. Whilst we are at Barnton, will continue to do so with renewed energy.
In the summer of 2013, we had 12 board members with varying roles and a small team of volunteers that hadn’t run a football club before. It was unknown territory for us all and each day was a learning curve. Luckily for us, we started life with an experienced manager at this level in Ian Street, who guided us to promotion in our first season. That year we finished third, just missing out on the automatic promotion places but Formby – who just pipped us – folded. When it was offered to us, we accepted the promotion and the challenges of the step 9.
We had a squad of players that we could associate to and many friendships were made with not only the players, but their family members too.
It was in that 2013-14 season where we found our first hero – Michael Brandon. In an early season Saturday away day, a bunch of lads hired a mini-bus and travelled to Atherton Laburnam Rovers, and chanted ‘Ohh Michael Van Brandon’ each time he went near the ball. He netted twice that day in a season where he scored 37, a standout player, who won at the end of season awards.
The next season we were in the Premier Division, a big step up, but we held our own and finished the season in third place. Brandon was still banging them in. He formed the attack with new signing Matt Beadle.
Another solid season on the pitch followed in 2015-16 as we secured a fourth-place finish. We suffered a miserable winter and the playing surface wasn’t the best, but we worked hard and invested to make it as good as we could. We hadn’t done as well in the bigger cups, early exits and defeats at home gave us a disappointing start to the season. However, the season ended on a high as we won the local district cup against rivals Witton Albion to give us the bragging rights. Off the pitch we were making progress too as it was this season, we developed an U21’s team. This showed that we were no longer a team but an expanding football club.
There was a noticeable change the following season. The club had begun to investigate re-branding. We had a badge that looked like that of our former club. We played in the same colours and it was hard to disassociate ourselves meaningfully. We recognised that locally, a lot of people thought we were the same club. It will take us time to shake that off, but with the re-branding of the club, we began to separate ourselves from these associations.
That season we signed proven winners. A large contingent of players from the Glossop North End team that were league champions in 2015. It wasn’t meant to be however as, Ian Street resigned as first-team manager in March 2017, with assistant Paul Bowyer and first-team coach Wayne Goodison becoming caretaker joint managers before being appointed on a permanent basis.
The 2017-18 season was the start of what we see today. We set out with a playing style that we had not seen previously. We had terrific runs in the FA Cup and got one round from Wembley in the FA Vase. We went viral for the number of postponements we had that season and also for the number of games we played, 69 in total. It was a crazy season, full of ups and downs and we saw a supporter’s group was formed too, from a car share group that got out of hand. They travel everywhere, drinking beer, singing songs and backing the team no matter what.
However, there was sad news around the Christmas period. Our chairman, Paul Stockton died. Paul Stockton was a proud, well-respected man who loved 1874 and his club loved him. This was devastating for us all and his legacy will never be forgotten.
The following season saw us win the North West Counties Football League Cup, beating league champions City of Liverpool 1–0 in the final at Altrincham. This was without doubt our greatest day as a football club. It made a frustrating season, feel good after finishing 10th in the league. However, during this season, we saw 2 major milestones reached. Our Captain Matt Woolley become our record appearance holder and has made to this date 252, a phenomenal achievement at this level. The second was achieved by our second ‘hero’ Scott McGowan. After Matt Beadle and Mike Brandon departed, we wondered where goals would come from, well step forward Scott who became our record goal scorer beating Brandon’s total of 79. Not only that, but Scott reached 100 goals for the club that year and is the only player in our short history to do so.
This summer we have been busy with the move from Winsford to Barnton and our stadium gang and numerous other volunteers from both clubs have put endless hours into getting the ground ready for the new season. During pre-season, we announced our brand-new away shirt designed by local artist Phil Galloway. The shirt itself, has gone viral on social media creating a lot of interest in not only our club, but also our Northwich inspired shirt (Check out our previous article on this shirt HERE). This is a kit that for our community means so much. It makes us stand apart from the generic kit designs and is also inspired by the things that are in our town.
Although we are still a young club, we have come a long way, learning each and every day with a club to call our own, shaping our own destiny and most importantly, owned and run by the fans, for the fans.