MY first real introduction into football came fairly late.

As part of a family which had no real interest in the game, I didn’t attend matches as a child, and just followed the game as an armchair fan.

The first memory I have was being allowed to stay up late to watch the Manchester United v Benfica European Cup Final on TV on Wednesday, May 29, 1968.

From then on, I favoured United – the ultimate glory hunter, though I am a born and bred Mancunian.

As I got older, I never really had the interest to start attending matches.

I got married and moved out to Northwich, but it wasn’t until my younger son, Mark, came home from primary school with a free ticket for a Northwich Victoria game, saying “Dad, can you take me to the match” constantly until I gave in.

It was a Tuesday evening, October 2, 2001, when Vics were still in the Conference League.

They faced Doncaster Rovers, down at the old Drill Field ground, and I can’t really remember any of the game but Vics lost 3-2 with goals from Gary Talbot and Gregg Blundell who was to become the first of my Vics’ heroes.

Other matches followed that season as the obsession began to grow, including my first away match, coincidentally against Doncaster Rovers as well in March 2002.

Highlights were few and far between as Vics struggled for a couple of seasons, eventually being relegated down to the Conference North League for the 2005/06 season after entering administration.

This proved to be a memorable season culminating in Vics winning the Conference North title against their nearest rivals Stafford Rangers 3-1 in front of 3000 fans with my next Vics hero, Jonny Allan scoring twice.

Back in the Conference, and with a shiny new stadium, the future seemed bright, and I took more of an interest in the club rather than just attending matches.

I started helping around the ground selling raffle tickets on match days, and attending meetings and events.

Events on and off the pitch resulted in more relegations and the loss of the new stadium, and eventually Vics ended up playing in the Evostik South Division ground-sharing with Witton Albion after a few years of being nomadic!

Times were hard but I stuck by the club, and just when we seemed to be at our lowest point, a third spell in administration and relegation down to the North West Counties League, the chance finally came for the loyal fans to take control of the club.

I happily became a member, and helped out where I could.

Now, I’m the ever smiling gateman on the turnstile, and thoroughly enjoying life at the new look Vics, and my son (now married and living in Stockport) still comes with me and helps out as well by doing the live Twitter at matches.

So, just over 18 years of watching the Vics, nothing by some standards, I’ve seen them tumble from the top tier of non-league football down to the North West Counties league but I’ve loved every minute of it, made some special friends and am eagerly awaiting next season and a new Vics’ hero to emerge.

And I’m prouder than ever to call myself a Vics fan.