NORTHWICH Victoria’s chairman has said he is optimistic that a run to the FA Vase semi-finals can help to change people’s perceptions of the club.

Brian Turner told the Guardian that a penalty shoot-out defeat against Chertsey Town last weekend, when the teams could not be separated after extra-time, had been painful to watch unfold.

However he is sure those emotions will change when he looks back on a run that took Vics to within a spot-kick of a playing in a final at Wembley.

“I didn’t drive home straightaway when we got back [on Saturday],” he said.

“I pulled over into a lay-by and sat thinking about what had happened because I don’t think I’d taken it all in.

“It’s hard to accept when you lose any game on penalties, more so when you consider what was at stake.

“I wasn’t there long, but I did want to have that moment.”

He added that his mood was more upbeat a few days later.

By then he’d had more time to consider the team’s success in a wider context and could start to evaluate what it means for the club.

After all, less than two years have passed since the supporters’ association completed a takeover in the nick of time before an FA-imposed deadline passed.

“Even if we’d got through to the final the biggest reward wouldn’t have been financial,” said Turner.

“What’s more important is that we’ve returned to the national stage and in a way that has shown people we’re coming back in a different guise to previously.”

Fans now own and run the club, a contrast to one man making the decisions when Mike Connett and then Jim Rushe were in charge.

Turner said: “The previous two owners, who I won’t refer to by name, brought disgrace on the club and left attached to it a stigma that is hard to shift.

“Hopefully we’re removing it bit by bit.

“Northwich Victoria is a proud club and it would have been nice to play at Wembley, of course it would, but we’ve won in other ways this time.

"The supporters have been great, and have come out to back the players.

"They've been magnificent, and did everything and more that we asked. 

"There is a bond between them that's stronger than any I've seen for a while here."

Turner was among the first on the field to console Ryan Winder, who was the only player not to convert from the spot after Chertsey goalkeeper Nick Jupp saved his effort, following the shoot-out.

He put his arm around the crestfallen midfielder and ushered him over to Northwich’s travelling supporters behind the goal at Alwyns Lane.

“Nobody should ever be blamed for missing if they’ve stepped up to take a penalty,” added Turner.

“He can hold his head up, and I really felt for him.”

He said the impact of manager Steve Wilkes, who replaced Paul Moore in September 2017, could not be underestimated.

The hope now is that he can build on a foundation laid in recent months and Vics can still finish inside the North West Counties League Premier Division's top three with a strong finish to the season.

Turner added: "Steve has that knack of getting through to players in a way that helps them to produce their best.

"He knows how to inspire lads and of course has the knowledge and experience that comes with working at this level for a long time.

"I remember the first time that we met him before he was appointed and he promised us he would turn the club around.

"Well, he's certainly done that."