Northwich Victoria – FA Trophy Winners 1983-84

JEFF FORSHAW thought Northwich Victoria were in for double heartache at the Twin Towers when they fell behind to Bangor City in the 1984 FA Trophy Final.

The Vics had been beaten a year earlier at the same stage by Telford and it looked like another loss when Paul Whelan put the Welsh side ahead.

But, with time running out, Colin Chesters equalised to take the Trophy final to its first ever replay, to be played at Stoke City’s Victoria Ground – where Northwich would finally be ­triumphant.

The two sides had met twice in the Alliance Premier League that season, with the Vics coming out on top on both occasions, although Bangor had won an FA Cup clash between them after a replay.

“We had played Bangor a few times that season,” said Northwich defender Forshaw.

“We played them  in the FA Cup, they came to our place and drew and then we lost the replay.

“Bangor had a good side then, a few ex-Welsh internationals played for them and they had a lad called Mark Carter up front who was a proper goalscorer.

“Bangor scored first in the first game. I got injured and came off and I think Graham Abel went to centre half before Colin Chesters scored the equaliser.

“When we went a goal behind we thought, ‘here we go again’, because the year before we got beaten 2-1 by Telford in the final.

“And the year before that we were beaten in the semi-final, so we could have gone to Wembley three times in as many years.

“But we were happy enough to get the draw and pleased just to get another bite of the cherry when the replay went to Stoke’s ground.”

The replay came three days later and once more saw the Vics fall behind. But another Chesters equaliser and a late John Anderson goal secured winners’ medals instead of more runners-up ones.

To their superstitious manager John King, one of the 1980s’ most colourful characters, it was written in the stars his side would win.

“John King said at the time, ‘you know what Stoke’s ground is called don’t you? It’s called the Victoria Ground,’ so we all thought that a good omen,” added Forshaw.

“And the referee after the Wembley game pulled his trousers up in the players’ lounge and he had green socks on, which he said were for luck as we played in green.

“John believed in things like that. If we won the game before he would wear the same jacket.

“We didn’t play terrible but we didn’t play great in the replay, we were mediocre.

“We went behind again, then Colin equalised for a second time and we picked up when we got back level. Then John Anderson got the winner in the last minute.

“One thing about John King was he knew how to put a good team together, with him being an ex-professional manager from the Football League.”

Northwich Victoria WATNBACK ROW FROM LEFT TO RIGHT

1. John Anderson: A striker who worked as a sports shop assistant and then in security before opening his own cleaning business in his native north Manchester.

2. Graham Abel: He played in three finals for Northwich and was employed by Bass breweries in Runcorn. Now works for Baker Petrolite in Liverpool making chemicals for oilfields.

3. Dave Ryan: Semi-pro international goalkeeper whose career started with Manchester United. He returned there to run the community scheme.

4. Jeff Forshaw: A central defender who lives in the Bromborough area of Cheshire. Worked as a joiner     in the building industry.

5. Dave Fretwell: A full back who started his career at Bradford City. He went to university before entering the banking industry, managing a building society.

MIDDLE ROW FROM LEFT TO RIGHT

6. George Connolly: The kit man, who had moved to the United States during World War Two, worked in motor production until retiring back to the local area.

7. Phil Gee: A striker who continues to lives in Barnton, Northwich. Worked for ICI in their plant in Winnington until retiring.

8. Mark Dean: A former Chester defender who settled in Castle, Northwich, and has been working in the ­building industry.

9. Tony Murphy: A defender, he worked in a car factory in Halewood before becoming a social worker in Runcorn. He has managed Runcorn Town.

10. Paul Bennett: A midfielder who settled in the Northwich area after his career ended. He was a postman before becoming Crewe’s assistant academy director and a coach at Everton.

11. Stuart Clynch: He is living in his native Wirral and is a postman whose round includes former team-mate Forshaw.

12. John King: The manager later took charge of Caernarfon Town before returning to Tranmere Rovers for a second spell, becoming director of football in April 1996.

13. Ron Reddy: The long serving physio died after a long illness in November 2001, aged 79. Worked at the salt works in Middlewich, Northwich.

FRONT ROW FROM LEFT TO RIGHT

14. Phil Power: A midfielder who is now the joint manager of Salford City. Works as a residential social worker for Salford Council.

15. Phil Wilson: A midfielder who taught PE and spent 20 years managing and coaching in the north west. Since 2007, he has been a scout for Blackburn Rovers.

16. Ken Jones: A central defender who was a bricklayer before becoming John King’s assistant at Tranmere. He ran a pub before going back into the building trade.

17. Colin Chesters: A striker who was also a sports hall manager. He now lives in the United States and is the director of coaching and vice president of the San Diego Surf Soccer Club.

18. Paul Reid: A striker who still lives in the local area and has been working as a process worker in a chemical factory.

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  1. One sad update: photo ID 7, Phil Gee, died last week. A mid-Cheshire footballing legend – over 130 goals in nearly 400 games – who was celebrated with a mkinute’s applause at the start of the 1874 Northwich game v Oldham Boro at the weekend.

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