WAFC A brief history
Whitchurch Alport Football Club has just completed its 70th season having been formed in 1946. The club took its name from the nearby Alport Farm which was the home of local footballer, Coley Maddox, who lost his life during WWII. Alport started out in the Shrewsbury& District League, winning the title two years after their formation. The club spent a year in the Birmingham League before becoming one of the founder members of the Mid Cheshire League in 1948.
Alport went on to enjoy some success in the 50’s and 60’s, reaching numerous Cup finals – one of which saw the club contest the Welsh Amateur Cup Final against Chirk AAA in front of 5,000 spectators at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground. Arguably their finest hour though, came in the 1969-70 campaign when Whitchurch became the first side to take the League Championship outside of Cheshire. They also won the Shropshire County Cup but in pursuit of the treble, Kidsgrove Athletic denied them of unrivalled success with Whitchurch beaten 4-2 in the League Cup Final. Still, it didn’t stop the town’s Council from honouring the club with a Civic reception acknowledging the team’s outstanding achievements.
Whitchurch Alport has always had strong links with Crewe Alexandra with a number of players having worn the red jerseys of both clubs. Peter Gowans, Billy McGinley, Willy Mailey, Richard Wainwright, Kevin Rafferty and Nick Longley are all fine examples of the association between Alport and the Alex. Local lad Stuart Mason played professionally for Wrexham, Liverpool, Crewe and Chester, while former Northern Ireland striker Jimmy Quinn began his playing career at Yockings Park.
The Reds have always been blessed with a hard working committee but perhaps the most revered of them all was Bernard Painter who served Alport well in several different guises, before he passed away in the mid 90’s. Bernard was instrumental in the club’s formation so it’s only right that he’s still remembered with fondness up Black Park Road. Season 1973/74 saw the club achieve its highest honour to date by defeating Cardiff College 2-1 to become the first English side ever to win the Welsh Amateur Cup under the stewardship of the late Eddie Morris. But a decade later and Alport were in decline. A disastrous decision to field only local players resulted in back-to-back bottom place finishes with barely a handful of wins across two successive campaigns. The committee approached Pete Wainwright – then manager of Kidsgrove Athletic – to try and persuade him to come to Yockings, and he set about abolishing the local-player-only policy. With his assistant Willy Mailey (ex-Everton and Crewe Alex goalkeeper), they set about transforming the club’s fortunes and Pete is still a regular visitor to the ground where he has served as player, manager, groundsman, secretary and Chairman, before having the title of Club President bestowed upon him.
In 2009, Alport won the Shropshire County Cup at Shrewsbury Town’s stadium with a 1-0 win over Wellington Amateurs. But just four years later, the Reds resigned from the Cheshire League just a few short weeks before the campaign began, and there was a question mark against the club’s future. They survived – just – and took the decision to play in the Mercian Premier Division, but it was far from plain sailing from there.
After a couple of seasons in the Mercian, there was an even bigger decision to be made: Alport had seen an opportunity to apply for North West Counties League status. Originally, their application to join NWCFL was declined but an appeal was successfully heard at Wembley Stadium – with the FA’s appeals committee overturning the original decision. There was much hard work ahead to make the dreams become reality though. The ground had to be brought up to NWCFL regulations, not to mention being able to field a team to be able to compete at Step 6. But in August 2015, Whitchurch finally stepped onto the field to compete at the highest level in their history, earning a 1-1 home draw with Rochdale Town in front of a crowd of 83, with Luke Woollam becoming the first player to score for the club as a NWCFL outfit. Initially, the Reds began brightly, losing only five of their first 15 league games. But a harsh winter saw interest wane and many of the better players decided they’d had enough. Alport limped over the line simply to complete their league fixtures, but a miserly 16 points from 34 league matches told its own story.
On May 27th 2016, the club unveiled a joint management team of Luke Goddard and Carl Everall. They set about assembling a brand new youthful and energetic team, whilst appointing experienced coaching staff, in order to help turn around the club’s fortunes after the harshest inaugural season imaginable. On September 10th, WAFC competed in the FA Vase for the first time – losing narrowly after extra time at home to Wellington FC – and then, on Monday April 17th 2017, the club record attendance at Yockings Park was set when an incredible 670 spectators watched a vital league clash against Litherland REMYCA – 36 more than had attended a midweek home game against City of Liverpool 5 months earlier. Alport’s average gate last season was an astounding 236 with nearly 5,000 people watching the home games. Whitchurch were beaten semi-finalists in the play-offs during Goddard and Everall’s first season, and they will hope to be amongst the front runners again in 2017-18.
On Saturday August 5th 2017, the club competed in the FA Cup for the first time in its 71 year history. Over a hundred fans followed the club to Walsall for an Extra Preliminary round tie and were overjoyed to see their team take the lead. Sadly, hosts Walsall Wood scored three times to advance into the next round, 3-1. But, just two days later, co-manager Everall announced his decision to take on the full time role as Head of Foundation at Crewe Alexandra Football Club – leaving Goddard in sole control of first team duties supported by his excellent backroom staff.