County host Barnton FC tonight (Tuesday 9th Jan) in a 7.45pm kick-off and, ahead of this Cheshire Senior Cup tie, County Tweet-meister (as quoted on the BBC Tweet of the Week more than once) Gareth Evans has put together five factoids on our opponents for you.
- 1. So – a week of double-cup action ahead!
It certainly is. Five days ahead of our FA Trophy trip to Kidderminster, we welcome Barnton, for a first-ever competitive match against County, in the First Round of the Cheshire Senior Cup.
- 2. Why have our paths not crossed in the county competition before, then?
Quite simply because the ‘Villagers’, from near Northwich, are relatively new entrants – having graduated from the Cheshire Amateur Cup following their election to the North West Counties League for 2014/15. They have also been knocked out at the first time of asking – by, chronologically, Hyde, Alsager and Witton – in each of the last three seasons, so their name has not had chance to spend a great deal of time with ours in the hat… until now, of course!
Additionally, the present club has only been in existence since 1946 – although the village of Barnton does boast a football history going back not only well before the Second World War but also into the late-19th Century – with several long-defunct teams having carried the name in local league and cup competitions. One of those, Barnton Rovers, actually faced County in an 1896 First Qualifying Round FA Cup-tie at Edgeley Park’s predecessor-ground, Green Lane. In the event, the Hatters, at that time a Lancashire League outfit, romped to a 6-0 win – but they had come close to scratching from the Cup beforehand, by way of a protest for being pooled in the Cheshire and Wales, rather than the Lancashire, Section of the competition. Only the club’s failure to post its letter of withdrawal to the FA saw the Barnton match go ahead – before County had to make an unwanted trek across the border to Ruabon and get knocked out by Welsh Druids!
- 3. How did the present incarnation of Barnton get to where it is today?
Much of the club’s trade has been plied at a county-league level – with the Villagers, just two years after their formation, having become founder members of the Mid-Cheshire League, which they won on 11 occasions (seven of those being in consecutive seasons, between 1996/97 and 2002/03) before continuing life, from 2007 to 2014, in the retitled Cheshire League. In 2015/16, their second campaign as a North West Counties League outfit, they gained promotion through the First Division Play-offs to reach the Premier Division – three tiers below the National League North – as well as seeing off Hanley Town to lift the Division One Trophy.
Back in the days of the Mid-Cheshire League, Barnton also proved a force with which to be reckoned in the tournaments involving local sides – winning the League Challenge Cup seven times and the Cheshire Amateur Cup on four occasions. And in 1984, the Villagers caused something of a shock by clinching victory in the Mid-Cheshire Senior Cup Final against their then much mightier near-neighbours, Northwich Victoria, who themselves won that year’s FA Trophy. Ironically, the ‘Vics’ are this term not only competing against Barnton in the NWCL, but also playing their home matches as tenants at the adjacent village club’s Townfield ground.
- 4. I’ll guess that players to have turned out for both County and Barnton are rather few?
Correct – although a couple of young Hatters who did so are fondly remembered around Townfield. Central defender Danny Meadowcroft, a County trainee from 2003 to 2005, went on to enjoy two spells at Barnton – and was co-manager during the first one in 2015/16 when the Villagers were promoted to their current division. Their Play-off Final side from that season also featured attacking midfielder Callum Scott, who last term appeared for the Hatters in our Cheshire Senior Cup-ties against Winsford and Crewe.
- 5. How will the Villagers… erm, fare at EP?
On current form, they may struggle – lying in the basement position, 16 points from safety and with just one league win to their name. But then again, who knows when it comes to the vagaries of cup football? Just ask Northwich Vics, who were walloped 7-4 by their landlords, and our forthcoming visitors, in this season’s Mid-Cheshire SC just over a couple of months ago…!