Club History

Club History

The Early Days

Northwich Victoria was formed in 1874 and named in honour of the reigning monarch, Queen Victoria. The following year the club established themselves at the Drill Field, so named, as it was the former Drilling Ground of the 22nd Company of the 3rd battalion of the Cheshire Rifle Volunteers.
Vics' initially played only friendly matches but graduated to a loose association of clubs called the Combination. A giant step forward was taken in 1892 when Northwich became founder members of the 2nd division of the Football League. Two seasons were spent in the league but the financial burden of professionalism saw the club resigning league status at the end of the second year. During Vics' final season in the league, they acquired the services of the legendary Billy Meredith, the peerless Welsh wizard of the wing.
The club returned to the Combination until 1898 when it joined the newly formed Cheshire League where it stayed for two years. A spell in the Manchester league followed before the club became members of the Lancashire Combination in 1912/13. Organised football came to a halt at the outbreak of the Great War but when hostilities ceased, the Vics' joined the newly formed Cheshire League. Although a top ranking club, the title was captured just once in a memorable 1956/57 campaign.

The Glory Years

Vics' again became founder members of a new league when they accepted an invitation from the Northern Premier League in 1968, remaining there until they signalled their ambition by joining the new Nationwide Alliance Premier League in 1979. Last season was the club’s 25th continuous season among the elite of non-league football.
Before joining the national elite however, Vics' name had been on the tips of the nation’s tongues following the remarkable FA Cup run in 1976/77. The team defeating three football league sides en route to the fourth round – Rochdale, Peterborough and Watford (the latter being watched by a crowd of 8,989 at the Drill Field including at that time their chairman Sir Elton John), before finally bowing out to Oldham Athletic in a game seen by nearly 30,000 at Maine Road.

In 1982/83 the Club reached its finest hour when they won through to the final of the FA Trophy but lost 2-1 to Telford United at Wembley. The Vics' faithful had only to wait twelve months before returning to the twin towers, where they drew 1-1 with Bangor City. To the delight of their fans the Greens won the replay 2-1 at Stoke’s aptly named Victoria Ground.
After a short spell in the doldrums the 1990's saw Vics' begin to reassert themselves as a leading force in semi-professional football. Most notably, when defeating Martin O’Neill’s Wycombe Wanderers on their home turf in April 1993 to lift the Drinkwise Cup.
In 1995/96 Vics' continued their progress, recording a best finish of eighth in the league and another trip to Wembley in the FA Trophy, a fantastic achievement considering they were drawn away from home in each round. Alas, it was not a successful one as Cheshire rivals Macclesfield Town proved too strong on the day, winning 3-1.

Five years on, Vics' sampled further FA Cup glory under the management of Keith Alexander. The club claimed their first league scalp for 17 years defeating Bury at the Drill Field in a first round replay, before turning a 2-0 deficit against Leyton Orient into a 3-2 lead before a late equaliser earned the Londoners a replay at Brisbane Road, a game which they in turn won 3-2 after extra time having trailed the Vics' 2-0, a thrilling match screened live on Sky TV.
When Alexander was offered the post of Director of Coaching at Lincoln City in the summer of 2001, he was replaced for two seasons at Northwich by former Northern Ireland international Jimmy Quinn. After Quinn departed for Shrewsbury Town, Vic’s unsuccessfully suffered three more managers before finishing bottom of the Conference in 2003/04, only to survive relegation on ground technicalities at other clubs.

Following the sale of the famous Drill Field ground, Vics undertook ground sharing with neighbours Witton Albion which lasted a further 3 seasons.


In September 2004 the club went into administration and suffered a 10 point deduction. However, against all the odds current manager Steve Burr and his team produced some fantastic performances, eventually finishing outside the bottom three, culminating in the team being voted “Non-League club of the year” by the Non-League paper.
However due to a technicality in the club administration Vics suffered their first relegation since the foundation of the conference league & started the 2005/2006 season in the conference north.

The club under the ownership of Mike Connett commenced the season at the newly built Victoria Stadium & their form matched their superb new facilities as they went fifteen games undefeated before emphasis shifted to a tremendous F.A Cup run. After victories against Frickley , North Ferriby , Barrow , Morecambe & Woking the run culminated in the Vics' playing their first ever game against a premiership side, and a great day out against Sunderland at the Stadium Of Light in front of 19,323 fans & cheered on by over 3,500 Vics' supporters, the team produced a battling display, finally losing the game 3-0. After slipping to 3rd in the league during January & February the team embarked on a record breaking run of 15 consecutive victories & were eventually crowned champions after defeating closest rivals Stafford Rangers by a 3-1 scoreline on the penultimate Saturday of the season this time cheered on by a record 3,154 at the Victoria Stadium .
Vics' didn’t find it easy going back into the conference national and at times were too close to the bottom four for comfort. However, a superb run of fine victories at the end of March when they defeated the likes of Oxford United, Dagenham & Redbridge, Kidderminster, Crawley Town and Tamworth saw them finish in a comfortable 13th place position in the league. They also had a successful FA Trophy run which saw them reach the semi finals stage before being defeated 4-3 on aggregate to Kidderminster Harriers. At the end of a long hard season the club was rocked by the sudden resignation of manager Steve Burr and his move to Stalybridge Celtic.
Neil Redfearn took over the manager's job at the start of the 2007/2008 season. But his reign only lasted until mid October after only picking up one point from the first nine games of the season. Paul Warhurst stepped in for just two games before he too resigned.
Dino Maamaria, one of the senior professionals at the club took over in a caretaker role until the position could be advertised, but he impressed the club officials & supporters so much that he was soon given the job on a full-time basis.
It took until 24th November 2008 for Vics' to register their first league win of the campaign against Rushden & Diamonds. The second half of the season saw a massive improvement in results and against all odds they secured safety from relegation with a tremendous 2-1 victory at Stevenage Borough in the penultimate game of the season.
Under the new ownership of Jim Rushe with the backing of the main sponsors Encia the club look forward to a bright future.

2009 - 2015

On 19 May 2009 the club went into administration for the second time in five years following their relegation from the Conference National; they were threatened with a double relegation to the Evo-Stik 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.
On 24 October 2009, under the management of Andy Preece and Andy Morrison - 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.
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 Division.
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 remain unbeaten in the competition under the management of Andy Preece and have reached the final for the 2010–11 season for the second successive year.
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.
The 2011 / 2012 campaign saw the team relegated from the Evo - Stik Premier League, even though the team finished 2nd. The season saw Andy Preece leave for Airbus UK, and two other managers in the hot seat namely Paul Simpson and Martin Foyle.
Andy Mutch and Alan Wright took the helm for the following campaign which the team will contest in the Evo Stik Division One South. After an up and down beginning to the season Mutch resigned and was replaced by the then Kendal Town manager Lee Ashcroft with former Wigan Athletic legend Ian Kilford appointed as his right hand man. Lee guided the Trickies to a very respectable 8th placed-finish, narrowly missing out on a play-off place taking the season right to the end groundsharing with Stafford Rangers.
2013/2014 and 2014/15 saw Vics' switch leagues to the Northern section of the Northern Premier League First Division, hosting games at Valley Road in Flixton.
The 2014/15 season saw Vics' finish in fourth spot in the Evo-Stik NPL Division One North table, losing 2-1 away to Bamber Bridge in the promotion play-off semi-final after extra time. A 16th Mid-Cheshire Senior Challenge Cup title was added to the honours list, defeating Witton Albion 4-0 in the final at the Help For Heroes Stadium in Northwich. The Club narrowly missed out on a 20th Cheshire F.A Senior Cup title, losing to Vanarama Conference Premier giants - and old foes Macclesfield Town by the odd goal in three; by 3-2. Vics' had hauled themselves back into the game to draw level at 2-2; from a parlous position at 0-2 down early in the piece.

2015 – 2017

Season 2015/16 saw the Vics' back in their home town of Northwich, having agreed a three-year groundshare with Evo-Stik Premier Division One North neighbours Witton Albion F.C. Despite the departure of manager Jim Gannon to his beloved Stockport County, a third place finish was achieved in the Evo-Stik NPL DivIsion One North League campaign and the season ended with a heartbreaking promotion play-off final defeat 2-0 away to Spennymoor Town. The second round of the F.A Cup was incredibly reached and was cruelly (and most observers said undeservedly) ended at eventual runaway league two title winners, Northampton Town by 3-2 after establishing a 2-0 lead just past the hour mark. The run to the second round took in notable victories against higher-league opposition; away at National League Club, Boreham Wood in the first round and National League North Club, Chorley F.C, again away from home in the fourth qualifying round.

The 2016/17 season was a tough one for the Club and supporters of the Green and Whites. With off-field developments overshadowing the hard work of players and management, the new-look team struggled at the lower end of the table for much of the season. The resignation of manager Adam Lakeland was followed swiftly by the departure of his assistant and caretaker boss Dave Wild, and new manager Paul Moore certainly had his work cut out from the start. Sadly, the writing was on the wall for Vics and despite some last-gasp heroics and potential lifelines at the end of the season, the announcement came that the Club was to enter administration yet again (along with the inevitable 10-point deduction) and relegation to Step 5 was confirmed.

2017 onwards

June 2017 brought probably one of the most important developments in the history of this grand old institution, as an agreement was reached for the Northwich Victoria Supporters Association to take full control of the Club. This, coupled with a ground-share agreement with Barnton FC, ensured that the Club would remain in Northwich. September also saw the arrival of former Wigan Athletic and Preston professional Steve Wilkes. With a management career that began in 1997 and peaked with NWCPL league win in 2012-13 with Padiham he brought in long-term assistant Steve Pickup and coach Andy Payton with stability being the immediate target. A season of recruitment and rebuilding saw Vics finish 16th. Season 2018/19 saw the Trickies finish in a credible 4th place and enjoy a long run in the FA Vase where a defeat by penalties in the semi-final against Chertsey Town dashed Wembley dreams. Some silverware was regained as the Victorians won the Mid-Cheshire Senior Cup running out 4-3 winners on penalties against Winsford United. Two seasons followed, affected by Covid before normality returned, Vic narrowly missed out on the promotion spots finishing 5th in both the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons. Another Mid-Cheshire Senior Cup was added to the honours board before Steve Wilkes announced his departure from the club and the seasons end.

By order of the Peaky Blinders
The departure of Wilkes was not the only bad news the Northwich faithful had to face as the rumours of possible lateral transfer to the Midlands League were confirmed in May and despite an appeal to the FA the club found itself with a logistical and financial mountain to climb. The situation was further exasperated when the whole playing staff expressed the wish to move on citing the extra travelling as reason behind the decision. On the cusp of the new season the club had not one first team player registered. Newly appointed manager Steve Pickup stepped up from the assistant role and with his staff a call to arms was sent out and trials were hastily put in place. Season 2023/24 saw some mixed results as the new team slowly began to gel however it was decided to dispense with Steve Pickup's services and his assistant Matt Barnes along with Chris Broad were appointed as the Management team initially until the end of the 2023/24 season. All the signs are positive and the fact the club is able to fulfil every fixture can be seen as an achievement. Going forwards Northwich Victoria can look forward to celebrating 2 significant anniversaries with the 40 years since the FA Trophy win and the magnificent accomplishment of 150 years as a football club.

Thanks to Phil Harrison for all his work on this article