THE mystery of a pre-war football photograph has been solved thanks to a Northwich historian.

The picture was sent in to the Guardian's Remember When section by Wincham man Toddy Barlow who wondered if readers could help him identify the team.

The only clue is the ball, which says 'WVFC 1913 - 1914', leading Toddy to think it could be a team called Witton Villa.

But Paul Lavell, from Leftwich, has revealed that it was a team intriguingly called Witton Victoria.

"It's not what you think – it's not a merger of Vics and Witton or anything like that," he said.

He went on to explain that the team were the winners of a competition that took place just once before the outbreak of the First World War prevented it from happening again.

"Just before the war The Northwich and District Football Association, who were a forerunner of the Mid Cheshire FA, decided to run a competition for teams that weren't in any other cup competition, were under 21 and were within a six-mile radius of the town centre," Paul said.

"The final was played at the end of April 1914 between Witton Victoria and Leftwich Victoria and Witton won 3-1.

"The First World War happened after this and as far as I'm aware that competition wasn't played again.

"I don't think they remembered it after the war, so this is possibly unique."

He said that Witton Villa FC was a team that did exist at the time but, because they already played in other cup competitions, they did not qualify for this shield.

The setting of the photograph is a mix of former Witton Albion Football Club grounds.

Paul said: "The ground is Witton Alibion's old ground, Central Ground, that was behind the Plaza.

"But the stand in the background is not the stand that was in the ground when it was knocked down in 1989, it was the stand they brought with them from their previous ground over Station Bridge by Magdela Place.

"At the time Witton Albion hadn't long moved to Central Ground, where they moved in 1910.

"It wasn't known as Central Ground at the time, it was known as Finestone's Field, Finestone was the chairman at the time.

"I've not seen any other photo of this stand."