Witton Albion Football Club

Antrobus

With 120 years of history Witton Albion are a long-established non-league football club. Wincham Park, home to the club for the past 20 years, is regarded as one of the better grounds outside of the Football League and is regularly used as a venue for the finals of the Cheshire FA's county cup competitions. Witton spent three seasons in the Football Conference, 1991/92, 1992/93 and 1993/94, when their opponents included current Football League clubs Yeovil Town, Wycombe Wanderers, Cheltenham Town, Dagenham & Redbridge and local neighbours Macclesfield Town. During Albion's period in non-league's top flight their achievements included a Wembley appearance as finalists in the 1992/93 FA Trophy. A crowd of 32,000 and a huge TV audience (this was the first time the game had been screened live by Sky) saw an already promoted Colchester United side beat Witton 3-1 on the day. Albion reached the semi-final stage of the FA Trophy for the three successive seasons in the early nineties and this remains the club's most successful period of football to date. Relegation from the Football Conference in 1993/94 contributed to financial instability, which led to further relegation to the Unibond League First Division in 1996/97. By the turn of the Millennium the club was on the road to recovery and only narrowly missed out on promotion back to the Unibond Premier League, finishing level on points with Accrington Stanley and Burscough but with worse goal difference. Witton were promoted to the Unibond Northern Premier League in 2003/04, a 5th place finish was enough due to re-construction of the non-league pyramid. 2006/07 saw the tightest ever finish in the NPL’s 39 year history with Albion missing automatic promotion by just one goal and then losing to AFC Telford in the play-off final in front of a Wincham Park crowd of 2,281. Albion suffered a similar fate in 2007/08, with the title seemingly in the bag, a tremendous run from Fleetwood dashed hopes of automatic promotion before Witton this time lost in the play-off semi-final. After finishing runners-up for two consecutive seasons in the Unibond Premier League the failure to secure promotion saw a mass exodus of management and players from the club. Manager Jim Vince resigned, stating a need for time to recuperate from an end of season operation, only to appear within weeks as the manager of newly formed FC Halifax Town (a position he would later be sacked from before the end of the season). All but two players of the first team squad departed, only stalwart Brian Pritchard and the popular striker (and Manchester United masseuse) Rod Thornley remaining (with Rod later leaving for Ashton United midway through the season). Vince's popular assistant Nigel Deeley was the unanimous choice as the new Manager with the task of rebuilding a squad. After 7 points from 9 the Manager's fortunes changed and after a run of nine consecutive defeats the club's board decided to appoint former manager Gray Finley in his place. Finley and assistant Lee Coathup (a member of the Wembley FA Trophy squad in 1992) looked to have steered Albion away from relegation, however only 3 points from the final 8 games saw Witton slump to 3rd from bottom and relegated them to the Unibond Division 1 South. Players who have played for Witton and appeared in the Football league include Geoff Horsfield, Andy Oakes, John Doolan and Carl Alford amongst others. Former Crewe striker Nicky Maynard spent time on loan at Witton before going on to sign for Bristol City for over £2m. Further back Chris Nicholl, Peter Mellor, Phil Power, Mark Leonard and Mike Whitlow have all played in Albion colours, as have Nigel Gleghorn, Ray Wallace, John Burridge, Arthur Albiston, Micky Mellon, Ken Barnes and Denis Violett!

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