IT must be every supporters’ dream to actually play for their club.

One day in November 1986, it actually happened for three Vics fans.

Northwich were due to play top-of-the-league Maidstone United in what was then called the GM Vauxhall Conference League, but in the week’s run-up to the match Vics were suffering from illness and injuries and had asked permission from the league to call the match off.

However, the chairman of the league, who was also chairman of Maidstone Utd, insisted that the match went ahead.

The Vics manager at the time, Stuart Pearson, decided to name the only eight fit members of his squad on the teamsheet and go with that.

Chairman Derek Nuttall, when he arrived for the match on the Saturday, knew that Vics would get a fine or worse for fielding only eight players.

So, after having a word with club secretary Dave Thomas they decided that the only way to get round this would be to get three supporters from the clubhouse and get them registered before the 2.30pm deadline to be able to play.

Dave recommended Steve Garnett, the club tannoy announcer to be one of them, knowing that he played a bit of Sunday and 7-a-side league football.

Steve takes up the story, saying: “I was 26 years old and had been doing the tannoy at Vics for a couple of years after having first started the job of resident DJ at the Vics’ Club.

“I had been going to watch Vics with my dad from the age of 5. That day I received a phone call from Dave when I had just started the pre-match entertainment about 90 minutes before kick off. I immediately ran into Derek’s office and phoned home to ask my dad to bring my boots but he had already left, so I ended up wearing an old rock-hard pair from the changing rooms.

“I remember Derek telling me he played myself, Mark Fogg and Rick Parkin, who had been in the clubhouse, to prove a point to the league.

“Basically we were sent out like very proud lambs to the slaughter. Stuart Pearson just said ‘Do your best lads’ obviously expecting the worst.

“What I remembered early on was how fast the game was compared to Sunday league, and how Mark Emmerson (one of the players) called me over and said ‘don’t worry, just play your normal game’.

“However, having the great Gordon Hill ( ex man Utd and England star) in the team helped enormously and he controlled the game and made things easier for us.

“The stand-out moment for me was Gordon taking a free kick from near the touchline level with the 18-yard box, and myself flicking the ball onto Faz Page whose headed effort forced a save from the Maidstone keeper.

“Mark Fogg played right-back and marked Maidstone’s new superstar winger out of the game. Apparently he didn’t appreciate Mark’s ‘getting stuck into him’ .

“The match ended 1-1 and we had proved our point to Maidstone and the league. It was a very proud moment for all three of us, and for a personal point of view, a very proud moment for my dad getting to see me play for the team we loved.”