THE VICS COLUMN - viewpoint of returning fan, Ian Brown

TUESDAY, 10 September was my first time watching Northwich Victoria Football Club for many many years.

I don’t know why it has been so long since I last attended a Vics’ match really, I have no excuse to offer.

Many of my greatest footballing memories have been when watching this amazing non-league club, known these days as ‘The club that wouldn’t die’ after their takeover by the fans two years ago.

Northwich Victoria’s heydays were in the late 70s and early 80s, my very first game at The Drill Field was on a misty December evening in 1976. I was nine years old, it was the FA Cup and after the original game on the Saturday had been abandoned due to fog, with Peterborough United leading 1-0.

I went to watch the rearranged match a couple of days later with Vics running out convincing 4-0 winners.

I was hooked straight away. Vics were in the middle of an amazing cup run that season which saw them reach the 4th round proper and draw second division side Oldham Athletic.

Due to there being such a demand for tickets this match had to be switched to Manchester City’s Maine Road ground, where I was one of the 28,000 plus crowd that saw the cup run finally come to an end in a 3-1 defeat.

It was the start of the 80s when I became a teenager and I was allowed to venture down to the Vics games unaccompanied by an adult and attend the matches regularly with my mates instead. It was great to be a Vics fan in those days, the great team I watched included the likes of Kenny Jones (club legend), Dave Ryan in goal, Johnny Anderson on the right wing, Paul Reid and Colin Chesters up front and a young lad called Mark Ward who went onto to play at the highest level with Oldham Athletic,West Ham United, Manchester City and Everton amongst others, scoring a goal in a Merseyside derby one season.

They were great times, culminating in the greatest day in the club’s history on 15 May 1984 at Stoke City’s Victoria Ground where 12 months after suffering a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to Telford United on a bright sunny day at Wembley we went one better and lifted the FA Trophy with a 2-1 win over Bangor City after a 1-1 draw at Wembley.

I was at nearly every match in those years, home and away, creating some great memories and some scary ones as well. The trophy semi final 2nd leg in 1983 away at Dagenham was both rolled into one, Vics getting to Wembley for the first time in their history with a Mark Ward goal in a 1-0 win was amazing, but our day was marred by some serious crowd trouble before, during and after the game, with several Vics supporters buses having to receive a heavy police escort out of East London.

The support Vics got back in those days was incredible for a non-league outfit, home gates often exceeded 1,100 with a regular away following of 300 plus although during those runs to Wembley in 83 and 84 this figure was dwarfed by some amazing support. I know the club get nowhere near as many as that these days but they still have a hardcore support that are no less passionate about the club and follow them home and away, I want to be part of that again.

Anyway, back to the present and like my first match, my return was an FA cup tie against Lancaster City FC, who are two leagues above Vics. The game ended in disappointment with Lancaster being far superior and deserving their 2-1 victory.

But the main thing is, just as in 1976, I’m hooked again and will be attending as many games as I can.

The difference this time is I’ll be THE accompanying adult, bringing my six-year-old grandson Oscar with me.

I just hope that this modern day Northwich Victoria can provide him with as many amazing memories as they have provided me. I have every confidence they can.

Come on you Greens!!