THE VICS COLUMN – by Peter Tonge

FOOTBALL is back…again!

Well, last Saturday saw the return to football for Northwich Victoria. Okay, it was “only” a friendly against our friends, rivals and landlords Witton Albion, but at least it was football for us to enjoy again!

Provisionally, we have a restart date of Saturday, December 19, for the North West Counties League so it’s important that Steve Wilkes’ players get back on the pitch and get those minutes back in their tanks again.

Saturday’s match proved to be very much a midfield battle with little by way of goalmouth action, with the result falling in Witton’s favour due to a last-minute penalty from James Foley.

However, Vics more than matched their higher-league opposition and the performance gave more positives than negatives for the management to consider.

Making his first start for Vics was new signing Chris Cheetham – a very experienced keeper brought in from Ashton Town to replace the equally experienced Mike Hale, who has departed the club due to work commitments.

Mike tweeted to the fans “Thank you for all the support @NorthwichVicsFc, it’s been a pleasure. Sorry it had to end like this as I really wanted to see it through the season and get the promotion we’re aiming for. Good luck to Chris, got a great changing room to join.”

Mike will be missed both on and off the field, but Chris is vastly experienced and will prove a more than capable replacement on both counts.

Another “new” signing for Vics sees the return of full-back Jack Fleming to the club.

Jack first joined Vics back in January 2018, making his debut in a 3-2 win against 1874 Northwich and also starring in our FA Vase semi-final run of that season, making the left-back slot his own.

Northwich Guardian: Jack FlemingJack Fleming

Jack Fleming in action during his first spell with Northwich Victoria

He made 31 appearances, scoring one goal in the process for Vics before leaving the club in September 2019 and moving across to fellow North West Counties club Burscough.

He started this season at Welsh club Caernarvon Town before manager Steve Wilkes brought him back to replace the on-loan Leo Roberts, who has returned to his parent club.

Everyone at Vics is delighted that Jack is back, and Steve Wilkes even made the admission that “sometimes as a manager, you have to hold your hands up and say ‘I got that wrong.’

“Letting Jack go was one of those times and I am so pleased to have him back with us.”

So things are looking good at Vics – football is back, the squad has been strengthened and let us all hope that we can look forward to a successful, football-filled year in 2021.