Matt Waters - 1874 Northwich F.C.

An interview with Matt Woolley

Since signing for the club in the 2013/14 season, we’ve seen the performances of our Captain, Matt Woolley, improve year on year proving how much of a pivotal role he plays on and off the pitch at the club. Over the past week, I caught up with Matt to see how he’s coping with lockdown, his thoughts from the season that never got to be, and what he hopes to achieve in the future with the club.

When asked how he is dealing with lockdown, Matt revealed that although he is missing playing for 1874, he is still working so it hasn’t affected him as much. He said, “I think like everyone else, frustrated that there is no football but everyone understands the reasons why we are doing it and hoping football will be back soon. Personally, I am still working as the business I work for supplies engineering parts, tools, along with general maintenance and safety products to a lot of key industries, so that is keeping me occupied.”

The decision from the FA was one that disappointed everybody to see the hard work and dedication from the players and volunteers not given the end reward, however Matt believes it can give the players the belief that they can do it all again next season. He added, “At the start of season we are all motivated to achieve as much as we can and next season will be no different. If anything, I am sure it will give us the belief that we are capable of being at the top end of the table. That said, our success this season will drive other teams within the league and it will be as competitive as ever with any complacency proving to be costly.”

Looking back on last season, Woolley said he was “immensely proud,” of the performances each week from the players. “I believe everyone involved should be immensely proud of what we achieved. Everyone knows how competitive this league is and it’s a shame we didn’t get the chance to actually finish what we set out to do. Our consistency as a squad last year is what put us where we were at the time of the cancellation and if we want be as successful next season then consistence performances from everyone will be needed again.”

However, Woolley outlined that he hopes that they go much further in the FA Vase next season as he described last season’s exit to Prestwich Heys as “the biggest disappointment” of the campaign. He continued, “The biggest disappointment last year has to be the early exit from the FA Vase. It’s a competition that everyone wants to do well in and sets off at the start of the season with that dream of playing at Wembley. Next year gives us the opportunity to have a realistic go at it again!”

When discussing the decision from the FA to null and void the season, Matt said all the players are “disappointed,” but they understand the reasons why the decision was made. Woolley continued, “We as players are obviously disappointed with the decision as a lot of hard work had been done and it would have been nice to have something to show for the dedication and commitment that went in to last season. However, we are all more than aware of the reasons why the decision was made and had to be done. The health and safety of the everyone is far more important.”

Woolley, our record appearance holder, rounded off the interview with a message to all of our supporters.

“Firstly, on behalf of the players I hope you and your families are all safe and well in this difficult time. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support last season and i hope we as players gave you something to cheer! We wouldn’t have achieved what we did without seeing you all week in week out, come rain or shine, wherever we are playing! 

At this time more than ever it is important we return the favour and support you and your families! If any of you need anything, please do not hesitate to get in touch. 

We look forward to seeing and hearing you all again soon, hopefully it is sooner than later! 

COYG’s!”

Bowyer issues rallying call

With the Football Associations decision to null and void the season thus expunging all the results, I caught up with Co-Manager Paul Bowyer to discuss his time at 1874 so far, reflecting back on the season that never was and the transition between playing and management.

At 1874 we believe it’s crucial that we create a family like atmosphere not just within our club, but also the wider community, and Paul recognised the link between the players and fans plays a key part of this.  He said, “The link between the fans, players and staff and the level of support is something that makes this club stand out.  The way everyone at the club buys into the whole ethos and the sense of community and togetherness is brilliant.  There’s been lots of examples of this during the season, from the move to Barnton to the flags that have been purchased.  When Matt Russell walked out to see the flag the fans have had made for him was special.”

When discussing the transition of becoming a manager, Paul told me it was always something interested him. “Ian had a chat with me and offered me the opportunity to get involved and I felt I needed to work alongside someone with more experience so it suited us both.  I learnt a hell of a lot and enjoyed my time and when Ian decided it was time for him to move on, I really wanted to stay at the club.  The timing probably helped a bit as there were maybe 10 or so games left of the season and after a chat with Wayne, we both fancied it and the board said they were happy for us to take charge.”

Paul also paid tribute to the efforts put in from the players from last June right to the early close of last season. He continued, “We scored so many important late goals during the season that it wasn’t a fluke.  It was down to determination and belief and this all began in June when we returned to preseason training.  The players all listened and remained calm throughout.  I think there were a few games that made us believe even more – such as the win at Ashton with 10 men. The two of us had plenty of discussions during the season about how consistent the players performances were and it’s really hard to remember anyone having a bad game.”

He also believed that the way the players prepared themselves for the season not only had an impact on the superb performances, but it also brought them closer together. “The players were determined to come back fitter and stronger than ever last June and to their credit that’s what they did.  We’re lucky that the majority of lads look after themselves and do extra work in the gym.  We spoke to a few of the players we thought needed to do a bit more in the ‘off season’ and they listened.  Although there’s a real togetherness in the squad there’s been a massive sense of competition between the players to push each other on this is something we’ve really benefited from.”

Paul also revealed that the key so far to his managerial career alongside Wayne has been due to the style of football they’ve established. Bowyer added, “I think the key to it so far has been to establish a way of wanting to play that the players are capable of.  The quality of players we’ve got at the club mean we can play football ‘in the right way’.  The fact we’ve had a relatively settled squad for the past 18 months or so means the players understand each other’s game and have got better collectively.  In terms of how we work together, Wayne’s a very good coach and is excellent at getting across the tactical side of the game and coaching players to be in the right area.  I’m not always as calm as Wayne and probably get on at the lads a bit more so I guess you could say we’re quite balanced in many ways.”

Finally, Paul rounded off the interview with a strong rallying call expressing that “Everyone at the club needs to improve.” Paul continued, “We’ve said it for the past couple of seasons now but standards need to be raised and we’ve all got to look to improve.  There can be no complacency around the club that things will just happen for us and it’s our job to make sure this doesn’t happen. Whatever the frustrations and disappointment that we’re all feeling at the moment, these will need to be forgotten about over time and we need to get back to performances on the pitch.  We know it will be tougher than ever now as every club will be more determined to beat us so I’m expecting the biggest challenge we’ve faced at the club to try and do it all again.  I wouldn’t mind a little run in the FA Vase too as the one disappointment from last season was losing in this.”

End of season thoughts

After the announcement from the Football Association, our season in the North West Counties has come to an end and all results will be ‘expunged.’ However, this does not mean that we will forget the season that never got to be. After 29 games, we topped the table with a healthy nine-point lead with a game in hand over second placed Rylands as the season promised to have a barnstorming end to it. In amongst all of our league success, we reached the Semi Final of the Macron Cup as we looked to secure successful defence of an extremely popular competition across our fanbase. We have made many long-lasting memories with some superb comebacks against Witton Albion, Skelmersdale, Northwich Victoria and Longridge Town which gave us some incredible scenes in the process. In these moments seeing the passion from the players and supporters alike showed us all how much of a footballing family we have become over the last nine months.

Once the news was announced regarding the outcome of the season, Club Media Officer Matt Waters caught up with Co-Manager Wayne Goodison to discuss the season.  When speaking to Wayne, it was clear that he had nothing but pride for the players for their performances. He said, “Both Paul and I have been full of admiration for all the players since the day we came back in June for Pre-Season. The application and way they approached every training session and games has been exceptional. They can be, and should be rightfully proud of what they have done over the last nine months. You only have to look at the table to see how consistent and focussed they have been. Like every fan, it’s been a pleasure to watch them each week!”

This season we have seen the players go the extra mile putting in some excellent performances, such as our stunning 9-0 win over Litherland REMYCA back in November. However, injury problems to some of our key squad members meant that we have seen some players play in new positions such as Mike Koral who has been excellent at right back. Now our season has come to an end, Wayne told me that planning has already begun for next season. He added, “We are going to review everything and speak to all the players over the next few days. We had already started to plan Pre-Season and now that we don’t have a target date that makes it a little difficult, however we know what we want to do and we’ll discuss that with the lads and put that into place when the time comes. It also means that we will be able to strengthen with five new signings in, Jack Pritchard, Ryan Mitchell, Jack Irlam, Joe Woolley and of course Ryan Jackson!”

Wayne also stated his hope that all the current squad stay with the club next season to carry on our success from this year. He continued, “Any team ultimately has to perform and be consistent to get what they deserve, so hopefully everyone will want to stay with us and also try to make us successful again next season. The motivation really will be to do well in the new season.”

We are all experiencing unprecedented times and situations we are all unfamiliar too and Wayne paid tribute to the family atmosphere everyone at the club has created. “I actually feel as disappointed for the fans and all the people behind the scenes as I do for the players! We are truly a community and fan led club so any success on the pitch is reflective of the support and effort off it. We will all be back at it to enjoy more games and performances together.”

The admiration and pride that Wayne and Paul have had for the players has been evident all season, and Wayne believes they have made his and Paul’s job “At times redundant.” Wayne added, “We’ve been impressed with them all season, they deserve the credit given to them. They really have a close bond and crucially they are all very talented footballers, which makes our role not just easy, but at times redundant. I think their collective focus to commit to each other is a major focus in their performance levels.”

Finally, he rounded off the interview with an important reminder for everyone in these difficult times. He said, “I think it’s really important that everyone stays safe, focussed on what’s being asked of us and we think carefully about how we can support each other to get through the current situation. Football will return and we certainly want all the 1874 family to be back with us when it does!”

This has been a situation nobody anticipated and although we won’t end the season as we hoped to, we can all remain proud of what everyone at 1874 has achieved on and off the pitch and we will see you all next season!

James Blair

1874 Northwich are delighted to announce the signing of former Mossley right back James Blair. Speaking at training last week with Club Media Officer Matt Waters, Blair revealed he was thrilled to sign for the club. He said, “After an absence from football, 1874 is the perfect place for me to get back into the game. I know a couple of the lads and they only have positive things to say about the club, so I’m looking forward to getting started.”

Blair, who is an experienced player at this level, believes he can add to the winning mentality of the side. He added, “As much as we want to play attractive football, we know that we won’t always be able to do that and I feel I can help us grind out some results and keep a level head.”

After playing in the Evo Stik before, Blair revealed he wanted to make a quick return, but this time with 1874. He said, “Our aim for this season has to be challenging for the league title. We’ve got a good squad and anything less for me wouldn’t be good enough.”

When asked what the fans can expect from him over the coming seasons, Blair responded by saying, “They can expect me to use my experience to help us win games. I’ll put in 100% each and every game to help the side win as many games as we can and always keep a level head.”

Nathan Okome signs

1874 are pleased to announce the signing of versatile footballer Nathan Okome from
Knutsford Town. Last Week, Club Media Officer Matt Waters caught up with Nathan at
training.

When asked what made him sign for the club he said, “Over the last couple years I’ve played
against the club a few times and I like the style of play, I feel like it suits me and I’m looking
forward to getting started.”

Okome, who spent most of his youth career playing in defence and holding midfield revealed
he’s looking forward to making the step up from Knutsford to 1874. He said, “After being out
injured for a number of years and getting back into football at Knutsford, I feel like it’s time
for a new challenge and I’m looking forward to playing for 1874.”

Spending most of his youth career in academy football, Nathan believed this experience will
be vital for his future. He commented, “Playing my first few seasons in men’s football was so
important. Knutsford was a good standard and I wasn’t too sure where I’d fit in but I feel I’ve
benefited a lot playing first-team football. I hope I can keep it going here and help bring
success to the club.”