With the football season over prematurely due to the Coronavirus Pandemic I’m in the unusual position of actually having this blog up to date! So to keep the content coming, and for something to do, I’ll do some old grounds and games where there’s a story to tell.
Saturday 18th November 2006 ko 15.00
FA Vase 2nd Round
FLIXTON 4 (Mitten 44 Grandison 53 Wilkinson 75 Tobin 83)
PICKERING TOWN 0
The sole reason I, and around 50 groundhoppers ended up here was the Salford City/FC United game at the Willows that kicked off at midday. There was roughly an hour to get the tram back to the car, and make a quick blast across western Manchester which did limit the opportunities to complete a Mancunian double. It boiled down to a choice between Trafford and Flixton, we chose the latter mainly to watch another Vase game. It proved to be both a good move, and an interesting one too!
I hadn’t realised that in essence Trafford are a 1990 breakaway club from Flixton so a trip to Valley Road was if nothing else a trip to the pair’s mother club. It didn’t take a footballing expert to realise on arrival that the club’s halcyon days were behind them. They’d played in the Northern Premier League from 1996-2000 and had fallen two divisions into the North West Counties League’s second tier. They’d been promoted back to the NWCL’s top flight for this season.
It’s fair to say the influx of groundhoppers rather flummoxed Flixton. Committee members were dispatched to get more programmes printed and I rather enjoyed watching the live Premier League feed in the clubhouse, with all the club names in Arabic and the TV presenters wearing shemaghs!
The game was as straightforward as the scoreline suggests. Pickering Town may have been in the parallel Northern Counties East, Premier Division but were swept away here. I remember thinking Flixton had a good side so I was surprised to see them finish 13th from 22 that season. I was even more surprised, and saddened to hear that in 2012 they’d folded, citing a lack of crowds, money and ultimately interest. It probably hadn’t helped that Trafford were now a Northern Premier League club.
Valley Road was kept ticking over as a Sunday League venue until the Northwich Victoria signed a 2 year lease to move from sharing Stafford Rangers’ Marston Road to move here. That also saw Vics feeder team Northwich Villa rebadged Northwich Flixton Villa in order to at least keep the Flixton name going. The ground saw few changes save for a lick of green paint, judging by the photos I’ve seen researched for this piece.
But at the end of those two years both Northwichs were on the move again. Valley Road wasn’t up to Northern Premier League ground standards so Victoria moved to Witton Albion’s Wincham Park, just 500 yards from their former home Victoria Stadium. Villa upped sticks to the Manchester Regional Athletics Stadium, adjacent to Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, replaced the “Flixton” with “Manchester” but lasted one solitary season in no small part due to the Athletics Stadium being completely unsuitable for Step 6 football!
So as it stands only AFC Flixton use Valley Road for Manchester Accountants Sunday League games. There have been no lack of attempts to get Saturday football back but so far with little success. I’m told both Broadheath Central and Unicorn Athletic have recently played Cheshire League football here but you can’t help but notice the estate agents’ websites with the ground up for sale. Anyone got a spare £1.25 million?