A FEW weeks ago, we received a letter from Mike Jones of Weaverham outlining his dismay at the region’s sporting struggles at adult level.

He referred specifically to football sides 1874 Northwich, Northwich Victoria and Winsford United, all of whom are close to or at the bottom of their respective league tables while that is also true of senior rugby union sides Northwich and Winnington Park.

> Read the original letter in full here

Since then, responses have been steadily flowing in including this latest one from Andy Hough, formerly of Northwich Road in Weaverham…

I can only comment on the football situation concerning Vics and 1874 and I fully share Mike Jones’ thoughts.

As a person who has played for a number of the local clubs – Barnton, Knutsford, Winsford United and what was Winnington Park and then involved with the Lostock Gralam committee for years – the main thing that every club must have is their own ground.

Without this, the committee, players and fans don’t have a “home.”

For me, the 'death knell' started ringing when Vics lost the ground at Wincham and the fall-out of the fans began.

This created the great rift between what was once a numerous band of loyal supporters for the one team.

With neither Vics nor 1874 having their own ground, I ask “where do they go from here?” 

Neither club has enough money to invest in a new ground through the FA Football Foundation. Neither club will ever own or experience a Drill Field.

I now live near Whitchurch and have been on Whitchurch Alport’s committee for 15 years.

As you will probably know, we too are at Step Five in the Midland Football League Premier Division.

Like Vics, our lateral move to the Midland Football League has not been an easy transition.

Due to heavier congestion, travel time around and through Birmingham is far, far longer than that with the North West Counties League.

We have lost players who simply do not want this away travel. We have lost players because of the different style that most Midland League teams play. It is arguable that it is not as good as the North West Counties.

Away fans footfall has greatly reduced. Midland League club fans do not travel. This has a negative impact on gate money and bar takings. Our average gates have dropped by around 150 people.

The sad thing is that I suspect that other than gate receipts, neither Vics nor 1874 have the benefit of other match day revenue – I’m sure that it goes directly to home clubs Winsford and Barnton. 

So, other than sponsorship deals and contributions, how can Vics and 1874 generate revenue?

I do fear for both clubs. I am especially sorry for the decline of Northwich Vics.

Then, it appears that Winsford United are in free fall. I agree with their decision to drop a division in the North West Counties but that hasn’t worked for them.

From their days in the old Cheshire League playing at such a high standard, would you ever have thought that they could ever be relegated into the now Cheshire League at Step 7?

Another thing that I cannot understand is how Market Drayton Town – a club that is at least 25 miles due south of Northwich – were placed into the North West Counties League upon their relegation and not into the Midland Football League.

My opinion is that the FA have not helped the future of certain clubs at all with their lateral reallocations.

Finally, to support Mike Jones’ comments; the world has changed. Adult people have different interests nowadays and there are many more options with how to spend their time.

Generally, Saturdays and midweeks do not seem so sports focussed as they used to be, neither for club volunteers, players or supporters.

My late father Harry – an ex-Northwich Vics player – would not know what to make of all this, especially as Witton Albion are now the top club in the town.