You may be aware that Attila The Stockbroker (a loyal friend of
On Thursday I make a welcome return to the utterly brilliant independent music/real ale emporium The Salty Dog in Northwich after a sold out gig there last year.I’m doing a fund raiser for the local fan owned football club, 1874 Northwich. And thereby hangs a tail. Sorry, tale.
Twenty-two years ago this month I met Robina, now my wife of nineteen years. She’s from Northwich (it’s in Cheshire, half way between Liverpool and Manchester) and she grew up not only watching her home town team, Northwich Victoria, but babysitting for two famous Man City players of that era, cousins Glyn Pardoe and Alan Oakes. Her mother, Dr. Sinclair, a local GP, was their dentist’s anaesthetist.
When I met Robina in 1997 I was co-founder of Brighton Independent Supporters’ Association, heavily involved in the long battle to save my local club: we had just been thrown out of our Goldstone Ground home by unspeakable moneymen, were bottom of the Fourth Division and playing our ‘home’ matches at Gillingham, 70 miles away in a different county. I had just become PA announcer, DJ and poet in residence, appointed by our new chairman, Dick Knight, as a friendly voice from home.
Robina would accompany me in the PA box at Gillingham at Brighton games, and when I got the chance, I’d go and watch the Vics with her – at the historic Drill Field, the oldest ground in the country, and when they played away in the South. They had always been one of the top non league sides.
Every time we went to watch the Vics there were loads of goals. I remember a 5-1 win away to Farnborough, 5-2 home FA Cup defeat to Hull City, 3-3 away at Kingstonian, an epic FA Cup defeat 3-2 at Leyton Orient. But the biggest goal feast of all was to be much closer to home…
We never thought our clubs would be drawn against each other – but then it happened. We’d been back in Brighton at our ‘temporary’ (11 years in total) Withdean stadium for a few years and were well and truly on the way back on the pitch as well when we drew the Vics in the FA Cup in 2006. Robina and I were the centre spread of the programme that day wearing our respective colours. Brighton won 8-0. Sorry darling!
Then, unbelievably, the same thing happened to the Vics as to Brighton: a local ‘businessman’ with no links to the club got control of it and sold the ground. The fans rose up against Rushe as we did against Archer, but unlike us they didn’t succeed in wresting away control, and the club became a laughing stock. (Rushe is currently behind bars for drug dealing. )
So the vast majority took the huge decision to walk away and form a new, fan owned club. On 29 November 2012 Robina and I were at the meeting where the name of the new club was chosen, taken from the year the Vics were formed. 1874 Northwich. Hats off to everyone who took that decision and who has carried the club forward ever since. Fan ownership is the ultimate antidote to dodgy businessmen!
My wife’s home town fan owned club has had a special place in this Brighton fan’s heart ever since, and I’ve seen them a few times over the years. I’m proud to be doing a gig for them on 10th October – and Robina will be there too.