Northwich Victoria
The Victoria Stadium

Ground No. 137
Visited - Saturday 13th October 2007
Result - Northwich Victoria 0-0 Exeter City
Competition - Blue Square Premier
Attendance - 1061

Having left their historic Drill Field ground in 2002, the move to the brand new Victoria Stadium in 2005 sparked a new era for Northwich Victoria, with the club seemingly having escaped their debt problems thanks to a nice sale to developers. Unfortunately though, despite this the bills had mounted up again, and in October 2007 there seemed to be a very real chance of the club folding after a winding-up order had been issued with no backers coming forward to save them. With this in mind, I was determined to visit the ground, especially with the game against Exeter highly rumoured to be the last one.

Setting out on a cold, autumnal day, I made my way up to Northwich, with a change of trains at Stockport, getting off at the oddly named Lostock Graham station just after 2pm, with the journey having gone fairly well. The walk from there was mostly a rural one, up country lanes before finally reaching the ground, which is set just outside the town at the back of an industrial estate, only a few hundred yards from their near rivals Witton Albion, whom they groundshared with whilst their new ground was built.

From the outside, three sides of the ground are a little dull if truth be told, with breezeblocks and a complete lack of colour making for a not particularly impressive sight. In contrast though, the Main Stand is quite impressive, with its green cladding and conservatory-esque areas each side of the main entrance, with the far one containing the smart supporters bar. This game wasn’t due to kick-off until 5:15pm thanks to England playing Estonia, so as with a lot of fans, after having gone round taking a few pictures, I settled down with a drink to watch that, England going on to win 3-0 with ex-Wolves favourite Joleon Lescott making his debut.

After that, everyone made their way round to the turnstiles, although there was an air of expectancy that many thought that they’d still be locked up! Before the game, there was a very real threat that the match wouldn’t go ahead. Players had threatened to strike in the days leading up to it due to not being paid, and with the court hearing the following Tuesday, then even in the bar watching the England game, a lot of fans weren’t certain that it would be played with just a few hours to kick-off.

Due to this, no programmes had been produced, with teamsheets being handed out for free, and the club shop had been locked up, no one there to man the tills. Setanta were covering the game, but even they had threatened to pull out right up until the day before, but all this seemed to be forgotten after entering the ground, with the players out on the pitch warming up.

After going in, then it’s quite an impressive sight that greets you. The Main Stand is as smart inside as out, and sits on the halfway line with a row of executive boxes behind a single tier of seats. The opposite side is a large terrace, named the Dane Bank and once stood at their former Drill Field home, but was rebuilt here, offering fans covered standing with an uninterrupted view. The two ends both slightly let the ground down, with just a single step of terracing and otherwise hard standing.

After having found a place to stand, the game eventually got started. Exeter were sitting just outside the play-off places, and Northwich, without a home win to their name, bottom, so it should have been a formality for the side from Devon, but the game turned into a dour affair with neither side producing much to shout about. There was a sombre mood amongst the home fans, in contrast to the last time I had seen them at Redditch a few years ago, where they impressed me in both voice and numbers, but despite a few chants, everyone, including the players seemed to be going through the motions, hope having been given up on for survival. After the dullness of the first 45 minutes, it was only a brief flurry from the visitors at the end of the second half that was worth reporting on, but Exeter couldn’t take advantage of a succession of several corners, and the referee finally blew his whistle to indicate the points would be shared on what had turned into a bitterly cold afternoon.

After leaving, I made my way back towards the station, having to blag a lift to get me there just in time to get the train home, so after another change in Stockport, I eventually got home just after 9pm.

Overall, it was good to see the ground. The two ends are crying out for something to be built there, but otherwise it’s a good standard build, although the location is terrible, miles away from anywhere, with little surrounding it other than the neighbouring industrial estate. Despite the rumours, the club did manage to survive the scare, being bought out and making it to the end of the season, gaining enough points just to escape relegation, despite not winning a single match in their first 19 league games. With the future looking rosier, then I’d recommend a visit there and will perhaps go back for a happier occasion than what at the time seemed like the clubs last match!

Welcome to the Victoria Stadium

Rear of the Main Stand

Main Entrance to the Ground

Rear of the West End

Rear of the Dane Bank

Rear of the East End

The Club Shop

The West End

The Main Stand

The Dane Bank

The East End

Del Boy is a Vics fan!

The Dane Bank

The Main Stand

The Victoria Stadium Panoramic 1

The Victoria Stadium Panoramic 2

No comments:

Post a Comment