THE 1874 COLUMN - By Matt Waters

OVER the last year we have focused on several people at 1874 that make us the family club, and the people that encapsulate what 1874 Northwich are about.

This week we take a look at another person who is key to our football club, physio Phil Lea.

Since 1874 were formed, Phil has been an integral part of the club, not just in his role as physio but also as a supporter and a clubman.

Over the past week I caught up with him to discuss all things 1874.

It was clear how passionate he is about the club and how much the relationship with the players means to him.

He said: “Being a part of this club is a privilege.

“I enjoy working with the lads whether it be at training sessions or in my physio clinic at FA headquarters at Moss Farm.

“All the players are like family to me. I treat them all like sons and grandsons, it’s a real family that we have.”

After retiring from his role as physio at Northwich Victoria several years before, Phil knew that he had to get involved with 1874.

He told me: “When 1874 were formed I liked the concept of a fan owned club and along with my wife we became part owners.

“The physio was unavailable for a few games so I filled in – the rest as they say is history!”

During his time as physio at 1874, Phil revealed that his favourite memory was hearing the fans sing in tribute to Paul Stockton at the final whistle against Leighton Town and City of Liverpool.

The singing, of course, was in reference to our former chairman, who sadly lost his brave fight with cancer in 2017.

Phil added: “The best moments were when the players and fans came together against Leighton Town and in the Macron Cup final against City of Liverpool to sing, ‘There’s only one Paul Stockton.’

“It’s moments like that which make me realise what a special club we have.”

In his role as physio, Phil has been crucial to the recoveries of many of the injuries sustained by players in the squad.

This season we saw the return of Ryan Jackson and Joe Woolley after two terrible injuries they acquired and Phil said he was “very pleased,” to see them return.

He continued: “It’s very pleasing to see both Joe Woolley and Ryan Jackson back playing again after horrific injuries.

“To come back twice from debilitating injuries is testimony to their hard work and determination.”

He added: “We also have Jack Irlam and Jack Pritchard returning and hopefully Ryan Mitchell soon. We hope for them to play a big part next season.”

Finally, Phil told me that the detail and work that Paul Bowyer and Wayne Goodison put in is outstanding.

He said: “It’s a pleasure to work with Paul and Wayne.

“Everything is done very professionally and the planning and detail is second to none.

“It’s also important that we are good friends off the field as well and along with Dave Stevenson and Andy Williams.”

n Look out for more from our columnists next week