Thursday, 5 August 2010

Chorley FC (England)

Coming from the Lancashire town of the same name, Chorley FC are one of the oldest clubs in the region, and have had a couple of close brushes at glory. Formed in 1875, they played the first eight years of their life as a rugby club, before good sense prevailed and they switched codes to to the proper version of football in 1883. Their very first game saw them beat present-day Premiership outfit Wigan.

They swiftly joined the Lancs Junior League, then the Lancs Alliance, which they won in 1893, before taking the step up to the Lancashire League, which they also won in 1897 and 1899. later that year they applied to be elected to the Second Division of the Football league, but sadly came a distant sixth in a poll that saw only the top two teams go through. It would be another 88 years before they had their next near miss with the league, as after years of gradually working their way up the Northern leagues they were promoted in 1987 to what was then called the GM Vauxhall Conference - one step below the Football league proper. Sadly though that was as near as they got to the glory, and they lasted a mere two seasons at the top level of the non-league game.

These days they play in the Northern Premier League Division One - the eight level of English football. They play their home games at the 4000 capacity Victory Park stadium, a ground that came close to making the headlines for all the wrong reasons when it burned down only minutes after a crowded FA Cup game against local rivals Accrington Stanley in 1945.

They are currently managed by the former Blackburn Rovers midfielder Garry Flitcroft, although they have two players in their history who have become even more notable. In the 1960/61 season striker Peter Watson set a record that is still to be beaten in the senior game, scoring 71 goals in a single season - 57 of them in the league. That he did it in the lower leagues shouldn't in any way diminish his achievement. But perhaps their most famous player is their former keeper Archibald Pinnell who played for them between 1894-98. Despite having played for Everton, Preston and Plymouth, he may not have had the most distinguished footballing career, but a photograph taken of him in the Chorley strip has gone on to be one of the most iconic images ever taken of the Victorian English game.

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