It’s been a good season for a number of our clubs in their local County Cup competitions, with Ashton Athletic clinching a place in the final of the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy, and several of our other clubs reaching semi-finals.
Going back over the years, Winsford United have had their fair share of memorable moments in their local competitions, and Secretary Bob Astles was reminded of the Blues’ glory days by one of their supporters last week.
Back in 1948, supporters from Winsford headed in their thousands to watch a local derby clash with Macclesfield Town in the Cheshire, and as Bob explained, a description of events on the day were captured in a book that was published some years ago which has just recently been uncovered.
“One of our supporters alerted us to the account, which was in a book he had purchased from the local library”, said Bob.
“The book is called “Football Nation” by John Williams and Andrew Ward (ISBN 4088-0126-0), and is an account of football following World War Two. I don’t think it’s still in print but there are several copies available second hand from Amazon and eBay at around £3.00.
“Amazon describes the book as ‘informed, wryly amusing, often surprising and always vastly entertaining. It offers an entirely fresh perspective on the history of the beautiful game in Britain’”.
The book contains a view of the day from a Winsford angle, including the following extract.
“Albert Thomas was a 67-year-old farm labourer from Catsclough in Cheshire. His fifty-hour working week ended at noon on Saturdays. Then, if Winsford United were at home he walked five miles to The Barton Stadium.
Thomas was blind in one eye and his left leg had been lame since the 1890’s. but he also walked to a few away matches. When it came to the twenty-mile trip to Macclesfield however, he booked a seat on one of the eighty coaches carrying Winsford fans.
On Valentine’s Day 1948 the small Cheshire town of Winsford (Population 10,500) went football crazy. The occasion was Winsford’s second-round Cheshire Senior Cup tie at Macclesfield Town.
Some fans started out very early. They carefully cleaned and oiled their bicycles, packed their holdalls and took to the Cheshire lanes for twenty miles, stopping only to eat packed lunches. The coaches left at noon, The day-trippers arrived in Macclesfield in good time. The gates opened at 1.45pm.
The match itself was a thriller. In the first minute of play over 3000 Winsford fans let out a massive roar, but Winsford’s “goal” was disallowed for offside. Macclesfield then dominated and led 2-0 at half time.
During the interval at least two visiting fans let off pigeons to relay the sorry score to people back home. True to the ritual someone shouted something extra to the flying birds: “Tell them we’ve got the wind in the second half”.
Winsford were a different team after the break. They scored twice to equalise. Then, in the seventy-fifth minute came one of those goalmouth incidents that, according to legend, littered matches in the 1940’s and 1950’s. The penalty area was like Woolworths on market day, and the ball twanged around as if in a game of bagatelle.
One report said it was cleared off the home goal-line six times before the Macclesfield goalkeeper fisted it over the crossbar. But Winsford scored the winning goal a few minutes later”.
Bob also confirmed that large attendances were not uncommon for local cup ties back in those days.
“The attendance of 9003 at Macclesfield was astonishing for an early-round match for a local trophy, especially as five Football League matches were being played within twenty miles of Winsford and Macclesfield on that same Saturday.
“That attendance still stands as Macclesfield Town’s record home attendance.
“There were several instances of big attendances in the years after the war. In 1949 Stockport County met Winsford United in the final of the Cheshire Senior Cup at Gresty Road in front of 19,000 supporters, which stood as a record for the Crewe ground until they met Spurs in the FA Cup in front of 23,000.
“This was 1962 and Crewe drew 2-2 in the first game but lost 13-2 in the replay. Winsford’s home record was set in the late 40’s when 8,000 turned up to watch them play Witton Albion.
“I was at the Cheshire Senior Cup final in 1959 when Winsford defeated Ellesmere Port Town 1-0 in front of 12,500. The victorious team took part in an open-top bus tour of the town, a photo of which can be seen on our clubhouse wall.
“In the mid-fifties when I first watched them, the usual home gate was always around 3,500.
“The mid-seventies saw Winsford, made up mostly of amateurs from the Crewe area, meet the then mighty Macclesfield Town in the Senior Cup Final again at Gresty Road in what was probably the greatest final of them all with the tie going to four games before Macclesfield won in extra time in the final game.
“The scores were 2-2. 1-1. 0-0 and finally 2-1, and all four of the games were watched by attendances in the region of 3,600 each match.