Manager for the Vics's is 42 year old Andy Preece who once upon a time played for Palarse after they had paid Stockport County 350K for him back in 1994. He only stayed a year, played 20 times scoring 4 goals, but clearly not finding the Croydon air to his liking (no surprise there), moved back north, this time to the bracing sea breezes of Blackpool. More recently he's been player manager at Bury and was there back in 1999 when we nicked Dean Kiely and was brought in as caretaker manager at the Vics last February and made full-time boss during the summer.
Some people will tell you it's the Blue Square North, others that its Conference North, but anyway they're a total of three Leagues below us in Tier 6 and are currently 15th out of 22 with 7 wins 4 draws and 3 defeats. A good enough record which should give them 25 points and sixth place but a 10 point deduction for administration problems leaves them just 2 points from the drop zone.
But its now 9 games unbeaten since they lost to Corby on Sept 5th and they only have 1 home defeat this season to bottom club Redditch. In the FA Cup they've beaten Bardon Hill of the East Midlands Counties Football League (Tier 10) 8-0 and then Chorley, of the NPL Division One North (Tier 8), 4-1. And then in the 4th Qualifying Round they beat FC United of Manchester of the Northern Premier (Tier 7) 3-0. Read about it here if you want.
Any Giant Killing Then?
Nothing recently but there's another hint that we've not all that special any more. Successful Cup runs are an important source of income for non-league sides especially those who have experienced recent administation. It's common for the non-league team to move a home tie to a bigger ground when they face big league opponents but there's been no mention of moving the tie this time. In reality they could never expect the 29,000 that saw them reach the Fourth Round in 1976, losing out 3-1 to Oldham in a home tie moved to Maine Rd.
Then in 2005-06, Northwich reached the 3rd round again but were drawn away this time, losing 3-0 to Sunderland.
What Are They Saying?
Andy Preece on hearing the draw details said, “It’s going to be a great experience. We can pit our wits against League One opponents and I’m confident we can compete because I believe we have players who could play in League Football. We don’t really have to worry about the result because there won’t be any pressure on us so we can play with freedom and enjoy the occasion.”
And Paddy Powell has memories of games like this, "They are horrible games, no question about it, and most of the pitches are not up to the standard that the players are used to. I know it will be difficult, but you just have to treat it like a league game."
And Parky has been giving fulsome praise to Deon Burton for the way the striker has continued playing in recent weeks despite needing a hernia operation saying, "I don't think I've probably given Deon enough credit. He can hardly move in training on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after games, and it's not until later in the week that he starts to loosen up again. It's credit to his spirit and determination this year that he has carried on playing with it." But before he can come under the knife we have to test Mooney as a reliable replacement. Do it Parky.
Of course, we've never played Northwich before and its our first visit to the Victoria Stadium but we have had loads of games against non-leaguers before. In the mid twenties when we had to play the Qualifying rounds there were five in a row starting in 1924 when we beat Dulwich Hamlet 4-0 in the 5th Qualifying round and in 1925 we beat Windsor and Eton 4-2 in the first round. In 1926 we beat Woking 3-1 and in 1927 it was Merthyr Town 1-0 and again the following year, 1928, we beat Northfleet 5-1. In 1933 we beat Bath 3-1 and Burton Albion were beaten 7-0 in 1956, Tonbridge followed 5-0 in 1972, and Chelmsford 1-0 in 1974.
Then came the bust-up between Killer and Flanagan in January 1979 at home to Maidstone. Both were sent-off with the score at 1-1. Luckily there were only 4 minutes left and 3 days later Hales was sacked, although later re-instated. Neither played in the replay, which we won 2-1. Harlow were beaten 2-0 by Paddy Powell in 1980 and in 1989 we beat Kettering 2-1. And lastly in 2001 Dagenham and Redbridge were only 4 minutes away from becoming the first non-league team to beat a Premiership club when John Salako scored with a "wickly deflected shot" in the 86th minute to make it 1-1. And we needed extra time at their ground before Shawn Newton scored in the 91st minute of the replay.
So that's twelve cup ties that I can find and every one a winner. But the 5 and 7-0's seem to have vanished a long time ago and the games are now a lot closer with 2 of the last 3 going to replays.
Our current form is appalling - 14th over the last 8 games and with 16 League One teams outscoring us now over the eight and with only a goal a game average over those eight games it would be no surprise if we didn't see Dave Mooney given a start this weekend in an attempt to inject some spark.
So whats the Plan? With two cup ties in five days there's a chance to put our League form behind us and try something new. Pardews' Southampton are unbeaten in their last 6 games, League and Cup, but at least they are a known entity, Northwich are not. And there's the added complication that the Painting rules are tougher than FA Cup ones and we'll need to include 6 first teamers at St. Marys.
Has Parky given us any clues before as to what he will do? We've already had two cup games in different competitions and Richardson, Dailly, Llera, Sam, Racon, Shelvey were all rested for the League Cup game at Hereford as were Richardson, Sam and Burton against Barnet in the Painting thing. And Basey, Spring and Wagstaff played both games and Tuna played nearly an hour against Barnet.
But here's some advice from Curbs. Back in 2001 against Dagenham and Redbridge and although Charlton had never lost to non-League opposition, Curbs was taking no chances. There were just two changes to the side who beat Arsenal 1-0 on New Year's Day (oh, happy days - but there I was in bloody Morocco ), John Robinson and Martin Pringle replacing Jonatan Johansson and the suspended Graham Stuart.
So if I was you Parky;
Randolph; Omozusi, Dailly, Sodje, Youga; Wagstaff, Semedo, Racon, Shelvey, Bailey; Mooney.
Predictions here are going to be pretty useless and as Paddy said these are horrible games - and without knowing the team a forecast is going to be pretty meaningless. But if Parky can get the players to face up to a game at Elland Rd after our last defeat at Colchester then he's capable of doing the same this weekend. 2-0 to the Addicks.
I just can't understand anybody supporting that Man. U. thing. I mean, it's a monster; waddling down the street advertising an US insurance firm whose directors take home millions of tax-payers money in bonuses after filing for bankruptcy; and this theatre of dreams bollocks and they've got more debt than Northern Rock, I mean where's their values, get out, get a life or whatever. OK, if you're born in Trafford, or live there or if your grandfather was Matt Busby then I suppose you'd had an excuse but the rest of them. I just can't fathom it out. Did their dad take all of 'em there when they was kids? I mean all the way there from where they lived with an 8 year old kid at those prices? I just can't see it. So why then?