Chorley 3v2 Hyde
Vanarama Conference North
Saturday 22nd November 2014
This season I’ve mainly focused on finishing off the Conference, doing a few groundhops and going to grounds I’ve been longing to visit, one of which is Victory Park - the home of Chorley FC.
Whereabouts and Whatsabouts
Chorley is a market town in Lancashire located in between Preston and Blackburn to the north and Wigan and Bolton in the south. The name Chorley comes from two Anglo-Saxon words, Ceorl and ley. Ceorl refers to a person of status similar to a freeman or a yeoman and Ley means a woodland clearing so it translates as "the peasants' clearing".
Like most of Lancashire it gained its wealth from the industrial revolution as a vital cotton town with many mills dominating the Chorley skyline. Most of the mills were demolished in the late twentieth century or made into modern conversions, with Lawrences being the last mill to stop producing textiles in 2009. Chorley was also vital in coal mining due to its location on the edge of Lancashire Coalfield, with several pits in the area, the last of which was the Ellerbeck Colliery which closed in 1987.
Chorley along with Preston and Leyland was designated as part of Central Lancashire new town in the 1970s. The original aim of this project was to combine the three settlements into a single city with a population of around half a million. Although the plug was pulled on the scheme, the town benefited from the urban renewal, with a new bypass and the Market Walk shopping centre. The town is also home to the Chorley cake and Chorley FM, the fictional radio station in the Peter Kay hit TV sitcom Phoenix Nights, which became a real life station broadcasting as a community outlet in 2001.
Chorley Football Club formed in 1883 after switching to football from being a rugby club for seven years. The club joined the Lancashire Junior League in 1889, and the following year became a member of the Lancashire Alliance, which they won in 1892–93. In 1894 Chorley joined the Lancashire League, becoming champions twice before the end of the nineteenth century.
In 1903-04 they were founder members of the new second division of the Lancashire Combination. The Magpies went on to win the Lancashire Combination for the first time in 1919-20 and were champions a total of ten times, the last of which came in season 1963-64.
Chorley were one of the founder members of the Northern Premier League in 1968, but left at the end of the inaugural season, before rejoined in 1970 and leaving again two years later to join the Cheshire League. The club finished league runners-up on three occasions before rejoined the Northern Premier League in 1982–83, becoming champions in 1987–88 and promotion to the Conference. Chorley spent two seasons in the Non-League top flight before being relegated back to the Northern Premier League in 1990 and stayed within its divisions until winning the title last season, to make their debut in Conference North this term.
Ground no.427 Victory Park
(Non-League Grounds 209, Current Conference North 12/22)
Chorley originally played at Dole Lane which is now the Coronation recreation ground, before a short stay at Rangletts Recreation Ground from September 1901 until they were evicted and relocated just next door to St George’s Park in September 1905. Victory Park was built just yards from their previous two grounds, the former rubbish tip was cleared in 1919 and opened the following year, named to commemorate the end of World War I.
The original grandstand was gutted by fire in November 1945, just hours after an FA Cup tie against Accrington Stanley. This was replaced with the current stand built in May 1947 at a cost of £5,500, which runs two-thirds pitch length. The stand is a classic of its type with a bulk of ironwork holding up its roof, which has two protruding floodlight pylons with the raised seating above the terracing and team dugouts at the front. The stand has a capacity of 900 and is flanked by food outlets with the Magpies’ Nest and the Victory Snack Bar at each side.
The first terracing was built in 1929 at the Pilling Lane End, but this too suffered an unfortunate fate when the roof was tore off after gale force winds caused £800 worth of damage. Nowadays the terrace is covered directly behind the goal with a high pitched roof with grass banking at the sides which is out of bounds. The banking continues to the side where there is still a few remaining crash barriers, back when this was the popular side of the ground. This end has flat hard standing which runs back towards the car park, turnstile entrance and the social club with four three-lamped pylons embedded in the banking. This classic Non-League ground is finished off with a covered terrace behind the nearside goal which runs the full width of the pitch.
The current capacity of Victory Park stands at 4,100 with a record attendance of 9,679 for a FA Cup tie between Chorley and Darwen on the 15th November 1932.
The knocking bet for a home win in the Conference North this week was for the Magpies, firmly embedded amongst the play-off spots to overcome bottom of the table Hyde, who are in danger of tailing off at the foot of the league if they don’t manage to scrape together a couple of wins soon. That much needed victory looked on the cards as they raced into a two goal lead with a brace from Tom Bentham in the opening ten minutes. The big striker latched onto a lovely through ball down the left flank to fire in a first time shot into the far corner in the third minute, before nodded in at the near post from a corner kick minutes later.
After the initial shock of going two behind Chorley began to dominate, and after a Jake Cottrell shot smacked the crossbar they halved the deficit a minute later when Chris Doyle was on hand to fire home a left wing cross on 35 minutes. It was then all square at half time when a goalmouth scramble was finished off by Chris Simms who netted the rebound after the ‘keeper had pulled off a fine save.
I expected the hosts to go on and comfortably claim victory at Victory Park, but they didn’t have it all there own way before eventually grabbing the winner in the 73rd minute. Darren Stephenson ran onto a through ball to finish with a tidy side foot volley to the delight of the home support amongst an impressive attendance of 1,125.
CFC 3(Doyle 35 Simm 37 Stephenson 73) HFC 2(Bentham 3,10)
Top Bloke - Jake Cottrell (Chorley)
(64 pages with 24 adverts)
Pin badge £3
Mince pie £1.80
Foetoes (36 pictures from Victory Park)
When I woke up on Saturday morning I wasn't in the best of moods to travel to Chorley. My train route from Newcastle was via Carlisle to Preston, and after my recent experience in the north-west I was expecting a hazardous trip. My pessimistic visage changed once the first leg of the journey was complete, as the damp weather made way for bright sunshine once I arrived in Cumbria, so I began to finally look forward to my onward journey to Lancashire.
I arrive without any travel hiccups in Chorley at 1240, with a list of half a dozen pubs to visit. I managed to have a pint in five of them as the GBG listed Maltin Hops was closed, so by the time I headed off to the game I was pie eyed in much need of the quality bait available at the ground, which dominated the post match discussion on the 100FgC Facebook page.
There was a big queue outside the Magpies Nest so I waited until 20 minutes into the game to get something to eat. This turned out to be massive mistake on my part, as the much sought after butter pie had sold out and to rub salt into my wounds, the cake on sale at the Victory Snack Bar wasn't even the local delicacy, so a devastating bait faux pas on my part in both savoury and sweet categories.
As expected the reverse journey didn't run smoothly with massive delays between Manchester and Blackpool. The first train I saw arrive on the northbound platform was over 50 minutes late, with my 1721 train way back in the distance and in a queue, so I jumped on the 1702 which was 25 minutes late. The upshot was I arrived in Preston a few minutes after my Virgin train to Carlisle was due to depart, but luckily this was also five minutes late so I caught it with seconds to spare.
Overall I had an ace time in Chorley, enjoying the pubs, beer and best of all Victory Park which now ranks as one of my favourite Non-League grounds. As you'd expect I always love to see a win for the Magpies, topped off with ticking off another ground on my must do list and to think earlier in the day I just couldn't be chewed with it. Maybe I’m getting a bit tired of tearing around on public transport on my todd or could be in need of a fresh challenge, whatever it may be I’ll have to have a good think about this in the summer when this fully booked action packed season comes to an end.
Railway (Steeley Lane) Wychwood 'The Dogs Bollocks' (5.2%)***+
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