THE VICS COLUMN – by supporter Dennis Wareing

ONE of our recent games had a number of players of both sides struggling to get to the ground on time due to traffic problems on the regional motorway network.

This caused me to reflect on the effort and commitment being made by the semi-professional footballer.

We may forget that most of our players have busy professional and family lives outside of the game. Consider the challenge of doing a full day’s work and then going on to play in an evening non-league football fixture.

People who work in an office, a driving role, a construction site or perhaps a manufacturing or warehousing environment, getting no more than a 30 minute break before jumping in a car to head to the stadium.

A number of our own players live more than an hour away from Wincham Park, in fact very few are from anywhere close to Northwich.

Even without a midweek fixture, the squad are committed to attending regular training sessions in order to give their best on a matchday.

Going back to Vics’ most successful era of the early to mid-80s, this was equally true then.

Our legendary squad including Jones, Forshaw, Murphy, Bennett and Fretwell had players with daytime professions in sectors like construction, decorating, factory assembly and the postal service.

That squad, also including Ryan, Anderson, Abel and Bradley, also had players travelling at least an hour to get to the Drill Field to play for us.

Many were based in Merseyside and Manchester but also Lancashire, Yorkshire and Staffordshire.

An added dimension while in the then Conference League were players who “dropped out” of the professional football league structure to join Vics.

Players like Mark Ward – previously with Everton – and Colin Chesters, Steve Walters and Dean Greygoose (all Crewe Alex) would have been in full-time employment as professional footballers.

Alongside their respective moves to the non-league game, they would also have been considering new career opportunities.

Mark Ward in fact took a position working at a well-known Northwich bakery during his time at Vics. It’s a testament to all players of that era that Vics were consistently in the top half of the table, and we achieved three Wembley visits.

Then there is our current management team to consider.

Firstly, they too have full time careers of their own. They travel significant distances to get to Wincham Park and away grounds and I’m sure also to scout at other matches in between.

Non-league management is also open to the challenges of no restrictive transfer windows.

We’ve seen players move mid-season for various reasons, including the personal affect of time spent travelling to games.

Some players have made admirable efforts over the years, but one or two have not unreasonably moved to clubs nearer to home. Maintaining a competitive squad at our level with such issues is an achievement in itself.

We should always be hugely appreciative of the personal commitments made by all our players and management team in representing our club.