THERE was a carnival atmosphere at Atherton Collieries last Saturday when 1874 Northwich came to town For the uninitiated, 1874 are a football club born in November 2012 after a group of supporters became dissatisfied with the direction their beloved Northwich Victoria was heading and decided to set up their own club.
The fledgling club was soon up and running. They found a ground, a manager and were voted into the NWCFL at last season’s AGM.
Whether they should have been allowed to enter at step six of the non-league system as a new club is an interesting question.
I was dubious, but the FA rubber-stamped the application and there were vacancies in the league. The fixture list decreed the first meeting between them and Colls was Saturday with 1874 an established club with a large following and the match a promotion pot-boiler between third and fourth position.
I have to confess I am slightly jealous of membership clubs because every person involved has bought into the ethos, is committed to the cause and invariably a willing volunteer.
Within the ranks they must have their butcher, baker and candlestick maker, whereas we older clubs seem to be made up of Jack of all trades but masters of none.
You do a job once and it is yours for life – another one added to the portfolio.
On matchday, we knew there were going to be plenty of 1874 punters coming and we knew what we had to do.
We had done our research, there was no way we were going to run out of food before the game as there were four score pies ordered and enough hot dogs to feed the five thousand.
The programme print run was increased and the best gateman in the world was persuaded to get to his post early.
The Green Army descended on our quirky little ground hidden away in the centre of Atherton and I was impressed with their turnout.
The majority were head to toe in their favourites colours – merchandise sales must be good. I looked at my feet and realised I was wearing my green Converse trainers but within a minute of the game starting the 1874 faithful knew I wasn’t one of them.
Although we were outnumbered in the fan department we had a great backing ourselves and there was a good craic between the rival factions.
Unfortunately, we lost to a solitary goal scored around the hour mark.
After our first acquaintance with 1874 Northwich and I am no longer a doubter. They are an asset to the NWCFL.
My chairman Paul Gregory told me the committee members he was talking to over a half time cuppa in the Jimmy Fielding Suite were up there with the nicest people he has spoken to in his 20 years at the club.
Paul is not usually moved to make comments like this so you have to give it credence.
We don’t have long to wait for the re-match as we play the reverse fixture a week on Saturday. Hopefully it will be another exciting match-up but with a different result, of course.
Another thing I don’t want is a repeat of the nine bookings in the game. We were edged out in this count 5-4. It makes it sound like the Battle of Alder House, but it wasn’t.
I acknowledge that cautions are part and parcel of the game and I have agreed with the odd one in my time (don’t tell anybody) but not every foul has to see a yellow card considered and more often than not brandished with top marks for artistic impression.
Games without cards are getting as rare as hens’ teeth. Anyway this is another story and maybe one I can debate in a future must-read article.