Evostik Northern Premier League – 8th March 2011
I can understand the anger displayed at times by some of the Vics fans. Northwich is soulless. Lacking the money, prestige and Premier League footballers of Knutsford, and the rich vein of history of, Northwich exists equidistant between the two, and that’s about it.
Maybe I’m being cruel, I didn’t see much of the town, but after being uncerimoniously dumped at Northwich Station – which is rather unfriendly – with nothing but a Tesco to see, I wasn’t holding out much hope. Furthermore, with the game at £10 with £2 parking just for standing tickets, the ground had better be impressive. Seeking refuge in a Wacky Warehouse by a roundabout, I asked the bar staff for a taxi number.
It was there I found out something about Northwich – people can be really friendly. Had some bordering on the flirtatious talk with one of the bar staff that was well out of my league, and in a mile taxi ride I shared with a Vics fan he put the world to rights. It was £6 (which is probably why people working were happy – they get a lot of money it seems), but it got me to the ground and I found out a lot about the club.
Northwich Victoria were a non league bastion that seemed to fall on hard times. They were originally based in The Drill Field, one of the oldest football grounds in the world at the time (in fact Colwyn Bay groundshared with Northwich when they were forced to play in exhile in the mid 1990′s), and batted about the lower leagues for years. However at the turn of the century they began to feel financial woes, with their home for over a century sold to property developers. Their new ground located on the outskirts of the town saw attendances dwindle, and the club were bounced around leagues and administration. Which has seen them with a new soulless ground that tries and flatters people with a carvery and a fitness suite on the site of an industrial estate, and in the Northern Premier League with their former tenants – us.
It was in said carvery that the bay contingient convened, and we saw why Northwich are financially struggling – nobody was there. Yes it was nice and pretty, but for large amount of the pre match (up until 15 minutes before kick off really) the carvery clubhouse was empty. With £2 for car parking and £10 entry to the ground, it’s quite an expensive club to visit.
We went to get our tickets and we learnt that there was to be segragation – £10 for standing, £12 for the seated end, with access to the bar at half time. It was cold but I wasn’t feeling too rich, so stood with the commoners in the £10 stand.
There was still a few minutes before the game started, so went and grabbed myself a pie & chips. Now I was treated to a nice pie at, but this pie was rather tasty as well. Steak & ale pie. Thick rich gravy & generous fillings. Marvellous.
The game kicked off on time, and from the off Colwyn Bay dominated. They came out of the traps with plenty of chances and deservedly took the lead on 10 minutes when Jimmy McCarthey launched a throw to the back post which was headed in by Rob Hopley – who recently resigned from Chester. From then, the Bay seemed to sit back, inviting pressure from Northwich. Andy Fowler forced a save from a fierce free kick the highlight of Northwich’s chances. Half time score: Northwich Victoria 0 – 1 Colwyn Bay.
During the half time interval I went to the commoners bar – round the back of one of the stands a glorified tea hut. Stewards kept me from drinking in the stand, so I took my position behind a set of no parking cones & enjoyed my pint as the second half began.
Second half for the Bay was more of the same, backs to the wall job not helped by our creative midfield dynamo – Damien Allen – going off injured with a hamstring injury. Northwich hit the crossbar, the side netting with a goal gaping and had a penalty decision turned down. It wasn’t a pretty half of football, but luckily for the Bay we held on. Like an away day in the Champions League, it was backs to the wall football, and Colwyn Bay won 1-0.
Speaking of Champions League, we were allowed into the posh people’s bar to watch the latter end of Barcelona vs Arsenal. The place was once again dead. Was surprised that even though there was a crowd of over 300, they seemed to all disappear really quickly. With the exception of the players and the Bay fans, it was largely dead. With that said, the welcome by the staff and the few fans we spoke to was warm. They’re trying!
With the Bay fans gone, I remained in the clubhouse. I had to get the last train home which was at half 11. I’ve stood in some miserable stations but Northwich isn’t one of them. Always nice standing at one where you didn’t fear for your life. I was late home but – despite the whinging – I had a good day out.
Do think like we stole 3 points though. Meh.