The Magpies, as Chorley are known from their colours of black and white stripes since the 1890s, have just celebrated 125 years as an association football club. They have had a fascinating history, having played in a total of six leagues since their formation as club switched codes in 1883.
After a series of friendly matches against clubs like Wigan, Preston North End and Blackburn Rovers in the 1880s, Chorley joined the Lancashire Junior League in 1889 and the following year the league became the Lancashire Alliance. They left for the Lancashire League in 1894. Since those early days the Magpies have also competed in the Lancashire Combination, Cheshire County League, Northern Premier League and the GM Vauxhall Conference, one step away from the Football League.
Since topping the Alliance in 1892-93 they have been among the honours many times, including 11 Combination titles, two Lancashire League championships and one NPL title win, along with a record 14 Lancashire FA Trophy successes.
Chorley have been at their present base since 1920, after playing at Dole Lane, Rangletts and St George's Park. Victory Park, acquired in 1919, was named to commemorate the end of the First World War.
The main stand was destroyed by fire in November 1945 shortly after a crowd of 4,000 had watched the Magpies beat League club Accrington Stanley in the first leg of an FA Cup First Round tie.
Chorley were founder-members of the Northern Premier League in 1968 and apart from one season in the Lancashire Combination, nine in the Cheshire League and two in the Conference, have remained in what is now the UniBond League.
They went into the Conference as NPL champions in 1987-88 and topped the table briefly, but came back down after two seasons.
Chorley slipped into the First Division of the UniBond in 1998-99 after finishing 21st in the Premier Division. They came close to regaining Premier Division status in 2003, but lost on penalties to Radcliffe Borough in the play-off final.
The Magpies have tasted glory down the years in the FA Cup and the FA Trophy. They knocked out Wolverhampton Wanderers, twice postwar Wembley winners, 3-0 in the First Round second replay at Burnden Park, Bolton, in 1986-87. In the Second Round they took Preston North End to a replay at Deepdale before going out 5-0 on an artificial pitch before a crowd of 16,308.
Chorley have appeared in the FA Cup First Round Proper nine times, in 1899-1900, 1938-39, 1945-46, 1963-64, 1978-79, 1985-86, 1986-87, 1987-88 and 1990-91. In that last season they reached the Second Round with a 2-1 win over Bury at Victory Park before going out 1-0 to Shrewsbury Town at Gay Meadow.
The club's best season in the FA Trophy was 1995-96, when they reached the semi-finals, losing over two legs to eventual winners Macclesfield Town. Chorley reached the Trophy quarter-finals in 1976-77, going out to Dagenham, who went on to Wembley. The Magpies had knocked out non-league giants Wimbledon in a Second Round replay at Fellows Park, Walsall. The first replay, at Victory Park, attracted Chorley's highest Trophy attendance of 6,310.
Over the years many Chorley players have progressed to the Football League, including two who went on to play for England winger Arthur Cunliffe (to Blackburn Rovers in 1927) and striker Paul Mariner (to Plymouth Argyle in 1972). Mariner played in the World Cup and helped Ipswich Town to FA Cup and UEFA Cup successes. Winger Magpie Steve Jones had a brief spell at Chorley in 1999 before going on win Northern Ireland honours four years later. Former Chorley forward Teddy Hodgson was in Burnley's 1914 FA Cup-winning side. Lee Trundle also appeared for the Magpies, during the time of the 1995-96 FA Trophy run as a teenager, and went onto a successful football league career with Wrexham and Swansea City before moving to Bristol Rovers for £1 million in the summer of 2007, and helped City reach the Championship play-off final.
Tony Hesketh, a former Chorley midfielder who had success as a manager after having his playing career cut short by injuries, took over as team boss in February 2008. He steered the side to safety and looked to be guiding the side to a comfortable mid table position the following season, but with just a few weeks of the season remaining he left the club for rivals Lancaster City, his assistant Phil Brown taking over in a caretaker capacity until the the final whistle of the season.
Just weeks later Steve Waywell, a former Magpie's central defender and successful manager with Curzon Ashton, Leigh RMI and Hyde United, was appointed to succeed Hesketh. However he stayed at the club for a single season.
During the summer of 2010 Garry Flitcroft was appointed manager and a new chapter of the club began. In his first season he guided the club to their first promotion in 23 years via the play-offs and attendances rocketed from a respectable 271 to a remarkable 757, with 4465 attending the play-offs semi-final and final.
The following season, despite off the pitch troubles, the club continued to progress on the pitch and in the first season back in the NPL Premier Division finished a creditable third third and faced the play-offs for the second successive season. However the previous seasons success was not to be followed as FC United won the semi-final at Victory Park in front of 2,754.
Last Updated on Friday, 25 May 2012 21:57