Welcome to Wythenshawe Town
Wed 4th July 2018 | Wythenshawe Town | By Clare Knowles
With a rich history spanning over 70 years, it was from the lounge of a house in Fallowfield, Manchester when Eric Renard, Brian Honeysett amongst others met and Wythenshawe Town FC was formed.
Although back then in 1946, the club was established as North Withington Amateur Football Club and their football was played at Hough End Field on Princess Road in Withington, Manchester. And, despite not playing a role from the very start, Eric’s brother Stanley Hahn soon got involved and it wasn’t long before he totally immersed himself in the club.
Competitive football started in the South Manchester and Wythenshawe League where the first team took the accolade of Division One champions in the 1949/50 season, before Cup glory the season after with the side winning the Barker Cup.
In 1958, a move to the Cheshire & Lancashire Amateur League saw the first team successfully climb through the divisions, to eventually be promoted to Division One at the end of the 1964/65 season. The then North Withington Amateurs went on to top the Division for an impressive five consecutive seasons.
And in that time, they amassed silverware too, winning the Whitehead Cup twice as well as the Rhodes Cup, Aggregate Trophy, Hellawell Shield and Lancaster Amateur Cup.
In 1972 and under the leadership of Chairman Billy Moore, the club applied and were accepted into the Manchester League. Success came quickly with the first team being crowned Division Two champions the season after their debut.
Three back to back wins in the Manchester Challenge Trophy started with the 1976/77 season to 1979/80, the latter also being the year the team did the double winning the Lancashire Amateur Cup as well as being awarded for Sportsmanship.
It was the Summer of ’74 when the club’s headquarters moved from the Princess Hotel in Withington, Manchester to the newly acquired ground at Timpson Road, Baguley, where Town continue to play their football today.
At the same time, it was decided to name the new ground after the residing Chairman Stan Hahn and Club Secretary Eric Renard, hence the name Ericstan Park. The club also designed a new badge, incorporating a fox and a cockerel, the cockerel representing Stanley Hahn (the German for cockerel is Hähnchen) and the fox for Eric Renard (the French for fox is renard), to forever honour the club’s founding members.
Not long after, in the early 80’s, the decision was made to change the club’s name to Wythenshawe Town FC to reflect their new home.
After a long spell in the Manchester League, current Chairman Kenny Hope took the club to the Cheshire League in 2014 and at the same time, formed a five-year plan to bring semi-professional football to the club.
Nobody could have predicted the success of Town’s Cheshire League debut in Division Two when they made national headlines winning every single league and Cup game, and the winning streak continued the season after, taking the total to 49 games unbeaten before a draw ended the winning run. Nevertheless, the season ended on a high with Town runners-up in the MFA County Cup as well as League Champions, and promotion to the Premier Division in the Cheshire Football League.
Throughout the club’s spell in the Cheshire League, infrastructure was put in place to prepare for semi-professional football. A working partnership was formed with professional football club Fleetwood Town, providing the club with access to the very best resources such as professional coaches, advice on player development and commercial matters.
The partnership puts Town in a better position to attract talented footballers with a passion to play, bringing winning players to the club, while Fleetwood have an extra pair of eyes helping them discover emerging talent.
At the same time, Wythenshawe Town started to build the foundations for what is now a four-person strong media team who deliver everything from match reporting to professional photography and looking after the club’s website and social media accounts.
The club’s match day programme is already held in high regard on the non-league circuit, twice winning programme of the year, while finishing 35th across all non-league clubs in the country. And there are plans to make the programme even better this season.
Programme editor Clare Knowles says, “As the club moves up a level, it’s only right the programme does to. I’ve always approached our match day programme as delivering something that people look forward to reading, with a bit of trivia and lot of unique, informative content as much as pages of adverts.
“Ready for our time in the North West Counties, we have one or two surprises in store for those who visit Ericstan Park and pick up a programme. And visitors will be surprised by the quality of them, too.
“We are very lucky to have our programmes digitally printed by a local printing company, so they look and feel as good as they read. And for only £2, they are an absolute bargain!”
While the step up to the Hallmark Security League is a big change for the club, it’s one they are ready for, as Chairman Kenny Hope explained.
“When I took over as Chairman, I set about producing a five-year plan, which included bringing semi-pro football to the club. To think we’ve achieved that within four years is phenomenal. There’s a lot we have had to do but one thing that works in our favour is our professionalism.
”So many people have commented on how professional we are as a club and the way we do things. From our excellent changing room facilities to our award-winning match day programme, we make sure everyone is well catered for when they come to Ericstan Park.
“We’ve been prepared for this next level for some time and now we’re here, I am immensely proud.”
A lot of work has gone into getting Ericstan Park ready for the next level of football. A ground that is well known for its excellent facilities, has had stand development works done to extend one of the covered seating areas, as well as a new covered standing area built on the club side of the pitch.
Trees have been felled and landscaping work done, in line with health and safety, along with concrete hard standing areas laid around the pitch perimeter.
Of course, floodlights are a requirement for the new season in the Hallmark Security League and once installed will further enhance the facilities at the ground. Many projects were completed by volunteers, with the support of the local business community donating equipment and materials.
Kenny Hope says, “We are very lucky to have not only such a supportive team here at the club, but local businesses around us. If we didn’t have the support we do, we just wouldn’t have had the resources needed to pass our ground grading.”
Although promotion has been achieved and Town will be playing at semi-professional level, the hard work doesn’t stop there. There are plans to do more to improve the club, from a redevelopment of the Junior section for the 2018/19 season, with the addition of new teams from as young as Under 5s to Under 12s; to improvement works on the club’s ‘second pitch’ where junior games of football are played, the club is also forming partnerships and ties with local schools and clubs to expand its services as a true community football club.
At the back end of last season, new first team management were appointed in James Kinsey and Dan Whiteside, who joined from East Manchester FC. Shrewd in their nature yet hungry for success, the pair are poised to build a professional unit on the pitch and know the importance of this promotion to the club.
Manager James Kinsey says, “Since coming to Wythenshawe Town, I’ve quickly realised what promotion to the Hallmark Security League means to the people behind the scenes. And this is just the start. While it’s a great achievement, it’s important we remember this is the first step in the right direction to where we want to be.”
From welcoming new players who have the strength and calibre to compete at this next level, to greeting new clubs and their fans to Ericstan Park throughout the season, Town are excited and eager to get their first semi-professional football experience in history underway.
There has always been one aim at the club, as the Chairman confirms, “And that is to make Wythenshawe Town FC a football club the whole community can be proud of; to not only put Wythenshawe on the map but also bring a high standard of competitive football to the area.
"We believe in opportunity, progression and ambition. We can’t wait to get started.”