NANTWICH TOWN FC
Founded back in 1884 as Nantwich Football Club, the club took up residence at the football pitch off London Road with the Leopard Inn as its headquarters and changing rooms. Early years were spent playing friendly and cup matches but in 1891 the club joined the Shropshire & District League, finishing as runners-up in the first season. Nantwich moved into the stronger Combination the following season and on 15th October 1892 hosted Liverpool in the Merseysiders’ first ever FA Cup match (Liverpool won 4-0). After the Great War, the club became founder members of the Cheshire County League in which they were perennial strugglers. In 1921, a record home attendance of 5121 watched the Dabbers play Winsford in the Cheshire Senior Cup at the club’s temporary home at the old cricket ground at Kingsley Fields. Ironically, this is the location of the new club’s new Weaver Stadium.
The club gave Freddie Worrall his first chance in senior football in April 1927, the youngster going to become a pre-war England international as well as playing in two FA Cup finals for Portsmouth. Success for Nantwich, though, came in the Cheshire Senior Cup in 1933 when the Dabbers lifted the trophy, beating ICI (Alkali) 1-0 in the Final. After the Second World War, the Dabbers joined the newly-founded Mid Cheshire League and in 1952, the club entered the inaugural FA Youth Cup competition. Drawn against Manchester United in the second round, the young Dabbers crashed 23-0 on a November evening at the Cliff training ground to a United youth line up including names such as Duncan Edwards, David Pegg, Albert Scanlon and Ron Cope.
In the 1963/64 season the club completed a treble, winning the Mid Cheshire League, League Cup and Cheshire Amateur Cup under Manager Alan Ball (senior) and Nantwich re-joined the Cheshire League for the 1968/69 campaign. In 1976 the Dabbers beat NPL champions Runcorn 5-4 in the Cheshire Senior Cup Final at Crewe in front of 2237. Five years later in May 1981 a crowd of 1078 saw Nantwich clinch the Cheshire League title by beating eventual runners up Hyde United in the penultimate game of the season 2-1.
1982 saw Nantwich become founder members of the North West Counties Football League. Unfortunately Nantwich had the unenviable honour of finishing bottom and were relegated to Division 2 where the club remained (except for one season in Division 3) until 1989 when the Dabbers were promoted to Division One. Ex-Stoke City midfielder Nigel Gleghorn was appointed Manager in November 2001 and the club also attained the prestigious FA Charter Standard Community Club award. Gleghorn left the club in the 2004 close season and former Crewe, Burnley and Barnsley defender Steve Davis was appointed as Head Coach. Davis led Nantwich to FA Vase glory in 2006 when the Dabbers beat Hillingdon Borough 3-1 in the Final at Birmingham City’s St Andrews stadium. Andy Kinsey hit two goals in the Final – and hit the headlines when he dislocated his shoulder celebrating the second ! John Scarlett, the club’s post-war leading scorer with 161 goals, made a cameo appearance as a substitute in the Final.
In 2006/07, Nantwich finished third gaining promotion from the North West Counties League so that the move to the new £4m Weaver Stadium at Kingsley Fields in July 2007 co-incided with starting life in the First Division South of the Northern Premier League. Progress continued on the pitch with Cheshire Senior Cup glory as Conference big guns Altrincham were defeated on penalties in the final after supersub Pavol Suhaj netted a hat-trick in a compelling 3-3 draw. In the league, Nantwich finished third and secured promotion after beating Sheffield FC on penalties in the Play Off Final. The 2008/09 season saw the Dabbers narrowly miss out on a third successive promotion, losing the UniBond Premier Play Off Final 2-1 to Ilkeston Town after extra-time and shortly afterwards Steve Davis was appointed Assistant Manager at Crewe Alexandra.
Nantwich Town celebrated its 125th anniversary season in 2009/10 with the publication of ‘Proud To Be the Dabbers’ – a full colour 128 page book on the club’s history. Further details about the book, the club’s full history and biographies of former players can be found at www.ProudTobeTheDabbers.co.uk
Davis’ assistant Peter Hall, the former Nantwich and Macclesfield striker, stepped up to take over as Head Coach season but after briefly topping the UniBond Premier table, he parted company with the club in March 2010 after the Dabbers slipped to 15th in the table. Senior players Kevin Street and Darren Tinson took over the reins, lifting the club to 10th place and they were confirmed as Joint Managers during the 2010 close season. However, they were unable to build on their initial success and left 12 months later with the Dabbers facing a relegation battle.
The club became a Company Limited by Guarantee in August 2010 and former Reading, Swindon, Shrewsbury and Bournemouth boss Jimmy Quinn was appointed Manager in March 2011, guiding the club to safety on a nail-biting last day of the season. Quinn had been blooded by Nantwich as a lanky 19 year-old back in 1979 and went on to play football at the highest level with Blackburn Rovers and West Ham United, gaining 48 caps for Northern Ireland and becoming the fourth highest scorer in his country’s international history. With the experienced 52 year old at the helm, and former Nantwich youth coach Martin Stubbs as Assistant, the Dabbers are hopeful of a more successful 2011/12 campaign in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division.
The 2011/12 season has seen the club embark on it’s most successful run in the FA Cup – reaching the First Round Proper for the first time in the club’s 127 year history. Victories over Ramsbottom United, Northwich Victoria, Kendal Town and Nuneaton Town gave Nantwich an enticing tie at MK Dons and although the Dabbers went down 6-0 on the day, their brave performance earned many plaudits.
Front Cover of “proud to be the dabbers”
- The full history of the club is charted in a full colour book, ‘Proud To Be the Dabbers – a history of Nantwich Town Football Club, 1884-2009’. The 128-page book is available from the Club Shop at the Weaver Stadium, Nantwich Bookshop, Nantwich Tourist Information Centre and www.amazon.co.uk.
- For more details on the history of Nantwich Town FC, visit www.ProudtobeTheDabbers.co.uk
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