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Northwich Victoria Supporters Trust members have voted to start a new football club in the town
NORTHWICH Victoria scored seven goals last week in a first competitive match on a pitch they want to call home.
They defeated another team with the town’s name in its title, Northwich Villa, in the Mid Cheshire FA Senior Cup at Flixton in Greater Manchester while a declared crowd of 21 watched from the sidelines.
Neither has played in mid Cheshire for nearly a year.
Fast forward a week to a function room about 18 miles away in Lostock, where a group close to five times in size gathered to give its verdict on a proposal to start a football club to rival those two.
That choice was faced by members of Northwich Victoria Supporters Trust last night, Thursday, fed up with following a club kicked out of two leagues in the past three seasons.
Yesterday, 141 of the 145 who cast their vote backed a motion to send out their own side at the start of next season.
“We’ll continue what is 138 years of history,” said trust chairman Paul Stockton.
“It’s the right moment to cut ties from the shell of a football club currently masquerading as ours.”
Visibly moved, he paused while those in the room – more than two hours since the start of the meeting – cheered after he had read aloud the result.
In 1874, Northwich Victoria accepted a challenge from college students in nearby Comberbach to play a game on an adjoining field.
Vics won 1-0.
More than a century later the club is homeless, playing at the lowest level in its history on a pitch in a different county.
Last season it was expelled from the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League’s top tier - a punishment later reduced to relegation – after reneging on financial obligations.
Only two years earlier the Conference had cancelled Vics’ membership for failing to play by its off-field rules.
Jim Rushe, who took charge of the club when it still played one step from the Football League, has been at the helm for both enforced exits.
It is in protest to his stewardship that trust member Tony Rogers collected signatures for a petition to force last night’s ballot.
“We can no longer sit back and watch Northwich Victoria’s name be dragged through the mud,” he said.
“This decision can’t be taken lightly; it’s a difficult, heartbreaking choice to end our association with an existing club.
“But the history being written at the moment is one of a fall from grace.
“It’s time for us to rebuild with dignity the reputation of Northwich Victoria towards something we can again be proud of.”
Northwich will have a new club, one trust members can call their own.
And it won’t host opponents in Stafford, a temporary base more than 40 miles away for the current club, or Manchester.
“We’re confident we can find a home in mid Cheshire next season,” said trust board member James Wood.
“Three clubs have already agreed to talk to us about sharing their ground.”
It is one of a long list of tasks for the trust board, a fact acknowledged by Mr Stockton in his first sentence after the warm applause that greeted the vote result.
He said: “The hard work starts now.
“But it’s going to be a great feeling to watch our own team play locally again.”