ONE of Paul Stockton’s earliest memories was going with his granddad to watch a match.

He told me it was a ritual he wanted to repeat with his own grandson, and last Saturday he did exactly that.

“I don’t know if he’ll last the whole 90 minutes!” Paul quipped as he took a seat next to mine.

George sat in front with his older sister Emily, who held up her phone towards the pitch to take pictures of the game as it unfolded.

She turned around to show them, tiny snapshots of football players whose names she didn’t know.

Her dad, Richard, smiled.

“The chairman wants a burger – will you go?” he asked his brother Chris, Paul’s other son, when he arrived shortly after kick-off.

I can't remember if he finished it, but he made sure we all took a chip or two.

1874 Northwich were taking on Maine Road, ending a wait of more than a fortnight to play since they last did after poor weather had prompted a series of postponements.

It was sunny, but cold.

Paul didn’t know it would be the final football fix he would have although he watched intently, focused on the detail, in case it might be.

He asked about the formation, and who had been picked.

The hosts dominated the first-half, and led at the break thanks to goals from Scott McGowan and Mark Jones.

They went on to win 5-0, setting a new club record for successive victories.

It is a group of players that have made a habit of rewriting history this season, going further in both the FA Cup and FA Vase than they had done previously.

Paul was proud of them.

To him watching the game was his ‘time off’, and as a football club chairman you don’t get much of that.

He certainly didn’t, but never complained.

Perhaps he knew what was coming on that November night five years ago when a group of Northwich Victoria supporters voted overwhelmingly in favour of forming their own team.

He read out the result, and then paused.

While those present cheered, he took a deep breath.

“The hard work starts now,” he added.

And for him, it never stopped.

He picked up the pies from ‘Birties’, replaced divots in the pitch and sometimes cooked a Shepherd’s pie for guests in the boardroom.

He met you at the turnstile when you arrived at the ground, brought a cup of tea when it was freezing cold and remembered exactly how you liked it.

He addressed supporters by their first name, and I lost count last Saturday of how many said ‘it’s good to see you’ as they filed past.

They meant it, too.

I found a cutting of an interview we did after 1874 had reached the second anniversary since the club’s formation.

It wasn’t a universally popular move, don’t forget.

After all, not every Vics fan wanted to cheer a new team while the existing one was still playing.

I asked Paul often if he had any regrets, and his answer never changed.

“Seeing the faces from our first match [at Lostock Gralam] still smiling is important to me,” he replied.

“The greatest pleasure I’ve had, more than the football, is that so many have come forward to do their bit.

“As long as we keep on enjoying it, then we’re on the right path.”

He didn’t see himself as ‘Mr 1874’, although that won’t stop others remembering him that way.

The reality is simpler than that.

The team put on a show for him last weekend, recording their biggest win of the season.

“They’re doing alright aren’t they?” he remarked with a grin.

“What do you think George?”

The youngster’s answer didn’t matter.

What did was that he was there to see it, just as his granddad had imagined.