Northwich Victoria is a club that has had plenty of torrid times in the 21st century, from multiple administrations and multiple relegations, The Vics’ have been forced to endure dropping from the National League, to the midland league (despite being in the north-west).

In the middle of all this, a breakaway club was founded by disgruntled supporters, 1874 Northwich.

However, the potentially most heart-breaking thing for not only fans of the club, but also any locals associated with the area, was the decision to leave their historic stadium, eventually resulting in numerous scrambles for a venue to play home games and has certainly not helped the clubs on field aspirations.

This is the story of the iconic Drill Field Stadium. 

For 127 years, the Drill Field, located in the centre of Northwich, played host to The Vics’ matches and throughout that time earned itself the recognition as the oldest football stadium in the entire world.

The ground not only had immense character and was the beating heart of the club, however, from a commercial point of view it gave the team a really unique selling point, and a selling point that no other club in the world would be able to boast. 

Whilst the saying ‘victim of their own success’ can often be a much overused cliche, it is not a cliche in this instance, it is a stone cold fact. Throughout the 1990s, Northwich Victoria were riding on the crest of a wave and in 1996 they recorded their highest ever league finish of eighth in the Conference Premier (Now the National League) and reached the final of the FA Trophy, which meant a trip to Wembley. Despite losing the game to Cheshire rivals Macclesfield Town, this period can categorically be seen as a golden era for the club. 

However, due to the clubs high flying and membership of the Conference, the league was insisting on all stadiums having a capacity of 6000 that can be enlarged to 10 000. With the Drill Field not meeting these requirements, the club’s owners were faced with an unthinkable decision on leaving the historic arena. The directors sold off the Drill Field, and it was torn down, taking with it 127 years of history. 

The club’s new stadium, The Victoria Stadium, is widely thought to have been doomed from the start. For starters, it was located out of town, not at the centre like the drill field, making it harder to attend. It was too expensive to build and too expensive to maintain.

The owner of the stadium and then chairman of Vic’s, Mike Connett, decided to sell the club to businessman Jim Rushe. However strangely, Connett kept the ownership of the stadium, leaving the club with no say on what would happen to it in the future. 

The Victoria Stadium was eventually sold to a manufacturing company, and the club was served an eviction notice. Leaving them homeless and in the space of just 10 years, Northwich Victoria had gone from being the proud owners of a piece of history, to going around the north west with their hand out hoping someone would let them stay.  

In the decade following, Vic’s have now played at a total of five separate stadiums, numerous different leagues and have struggled for stability, just showing how important having a secure home can be. The demise of the Drill Field can only be looked back on with great sadness, a piece of character and history gone, and the heart of the club ripped out, leaving them in constant limbo.