Winsford United have a long and proud history, having been formed way back in 1883. In those early days, the club was called Over Wanderers and competed in the Welsh Combination Football League. After a few seasons, the club changed to its present name and its present ground - Barton Stadium - although it was called Great Western Playing Field at the outset. The club brought on many good players during this period and after losing several players to Football League clubs, they experienced a somewhat unsuccessful spell that resulted in the club folding.
United reformed in 1913 but it was short lived as World War One broke out. After the cessation of hostilities, United regrouped with under Mr R G Barton (hence Barton Stadium) and the club became a founder member of the Cheshire League, winning the Championship in its second season. After the war, United became a Limited company and the 1950’s saw the glory days on Non-League football when crowds of over 3000 were the norm. In 1959 Winsford won the Cheshire Senior Cup against Ellesmere Port Town in front of a 12,000 crowd at Gresty Road.
Under John Williams in the 1970’s they had the most successful period in their history winning the Cheshire League and the Challenge Cup on several occasions. In 1974 they reached the Senior Cup final again, this time against the then-mighty Macclesfield Town. The final was an epic with three replays and the Silkmen only clinching it after extra time in the fourth match. All the ties were played in front of crowds of over 3,500. The Blues won the Cheshire Senior Cup again in 1980 with a 4-1 victory over local rivals Witton Albion. The goalkeeper in that final was Neville Southall.
Season 1992/93 will go down in United’s folklore as Winsford United won an astonishing five trophies - the NPL Challenge Cup, NPL President’s Cup, Cheshire Senior Cup, Mid-Cheshire Senior Cup and NPL Runners Up Cup. The Blues finished second to Southport and their points total is a record for the most points accrued without winning the title.
Winsford United have a pedigree of producing fine players who have gone on to perform at a higher level. The likes of Wayne Collins and Andy Oakes have come through the ranks, netting the club transfer fees and sell-on clauses which have been used to improve the infrastructure of the club amongst other things.
A period of consolidation in the 2000’s was ended with relegation to Division Two, and with it, a change of policy to concentrate on recruiting and developing local talent. To this end Dave Twite was brought in as Manager in 2003 and three successful seasons followed, however, promotion was missed each season by just a single point.
The Last Ten Seasons
2006/2007: Chris Willcock and John Flanagan took over the helm in 2006 and secured promotion. However, the duo moved on to Woodley Sports at the end of the season, taking with them the core of the side.
2007/2008, 2008/2009: This paved the way for two seasons under Joe Gibiliru and he marshalled the side to a respectable 12th place finish in the first season but the second season saw the Blues saved from relegation only in the last match of the campaign.
2009/2010: There followed an unsettled season that started with Terry Murphy in charge and then Mike Alcock and Tony Ledwards took over the reins. With relegation staring them in the face Dave Twite returned and along with Mike Alcock they saved the Blues from what had looked like certain relegation.
2010/2011: The club re-appointed former Manager Chris Willcock, who oversaw a successful start to the season, but in February there was to be a feeling of déjà vu when Willcock announced he was once again leaving to take charge at Woodley Sports, leaving Assistant Manager Ian Street in charge. The club finished the season in a creditable third place. A memorable night at the end of the campaign saw a 1-0 victory in the League Challenge Cup over promoted and hot favourites New Mills.
2012/2013: There followed a season with Ian Street in charge and the end of the campaign saw the team finish in a creditable seventh place.
2013/2014: In close season Lloyd Morrison took over the reins coinciding with plenty of good news off the pitch... Winsford Town Council became the club’s main sponsor, a relationship that promised to last for many years. The season was one of the most successful for years with the club finishing 5th in the league and defeating Northwich Victoria in the final of the Mid-Cheshire Senior Cup.
2014/2015: However, with things on and off the pitch seemingly going so well the club was rocked when two weeks before the start of the season Lloyd Morrison announced he was going to Mossley AFC and he expected to take sixteen registered players with him. This led to an acrimonious situation between the two clubs with Mossley unable to register the players and Winsford refusing to allow their dual registration. Eventually an agreement was reached on Winsford’s terms. Eddy Haslam took over the hot seat and incredibly cobbled together a side to begin the campaign well, including runs in the FA Cup and FA Vase. However, a poor run of results saw Eddy leave by mutual consent paving the way for Rob Byrne to take charge of The Blues. There was also a satisfying end of season victory over Congleton Town in the Mid-Cheshire Senior Cup.
2014-2015: Rob Byrne continued as manager in the next season which saw mixed fortunes but in the end the team finished in a respectable 12th place.
2015/2016: The summer of saw a frenzy of activity off the field with much work being undertaken on the pitch in the hope of resolving the problems with flooding that blighted much of the previous season, particularly important with 1874 Northwich agreeing to stay at the Barton Stadium for a further two seasons.
The new season also saw two important developments within the community with an Under-21’s team being entered in the Cheshire Under-21’s League and the welcoming under the Winsford umbrella of Winsford Wolves VIFC, a visually impaired team.
Three months into the season the Blues found themselves without a manager when promotion at work led to Manager Rob Byrne reluctantly resigning the post. Although there were several high profile applicants, the position was handed to long time Winsford stalwart Lee Duckworth and he took over as Player/Manager. He immediately began rebuilding the team and concentration was placed on fitness and discipline. The Blues finished the season in fourteenth place.
There was no hesitation in appointing the same management team for the 2016/17 season and there was clearly a policy of bringing more local players through although still retaining the players who had performed well in the previous campaign. After a start dogged by inconsistency the team settled down to hopefully climb towards the desired top six place at the end of the season. However, mixed results saw the team finish in a disappointing thirteenth position.
The management team were deservedly retained for the new campaign and quality signings leave the supporters optimistic for a successful season.