Chorley FC began life as a rugby club, before switching to association football in 1883. Known as The Magpies since the 1890s because of their distinctive black and white striped shirts, the Club have played in six different leagues during our 135-year existence.
After a series of friendly matches against Wigan, Preston North End and Blackburn Rovers in the 1880s, Chorley joined the Lancashire Junior League in 1889. The following year the league became the Lancashire Alliance, where the Club played through 1894 before leaving to join the Lancashire League.
They also competed in the Lancashire Combination and Cheshire County League before becoming a founder member of the Northern Premier League in 1968.
Promotion as champions of the NPL in ’88 resulted in The Magpies highest finish on the English football pyramid the following year in the Football Conference, but 12 months later relegation sent the Club back to the NPL.
After that brief spell in the fifth tier, Chorley slipped slowly down through the divisions and flirted with relegation to the North West Counties League. Then, with the appointment of Gary Flitcroft as manager in 2010, the Club began a remarkable revival.
Two promotions in four seasons saw The Magpies, roared on by an average crowd almost five-times higher than recent campaigns, catapulted into the National League North after a final day victory at Buxton in April 2014 secured a second NPL championship crown.
In what was to be Flitcroft’s last season in charge, the Club almost made a triumphant return to the Football Conference fold. Unfortunately, The Magpies failed to win a second-successive promotion after losing the NLN play-off final 3-2 to Guiseley in May 2015.
Assistant manager Matt Jansen took the reigns that summer, and although The Magpies missed a play-off berth in 2015/16, they returned the following season only to lose a second play-off final. This time in front of over 8,000 fans at FC Halifax Town.
Yet another play-off appearance was booked in April 2018, however, Harrogate Town to edge the semi-final 2-1 with an injury time winner. The defeat ended up being Jansen’s last game in charge.
Assistant Jamie Vermiglio took over the day after and led the Club to promotion via the National League North playoffs 10 months later. A place in the fifth tier of English football was secured with a 4-3 penalty shootout victory over Spennymoor at Victory Park in front of 3,596 fans.
The Club have appeared in the FA Cup first round eleven times; 1899-1900, 1938-39, 1945-46, 1963-64, 1978-79, 1985-86, 1986-87, 1987-88, 1990-91, 2017/18 & 2018/19.
Knocking out Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0 in the First Round second replay at Burnden Park, Bolton, in 1986-87 being a highlight. The second round saw Preston North End taken to a replay at Deepdale, before the Club succumbed 5-0 in front of 16,308.
The second round was also reached in 1990 with a 2-1 win over Bury at Victory Park, before The Magpies were knocked out 1-0 at Shrewsbury Town.
The 2017/18 campaign saw a return to the first round after a 27-year absence, only for Fleetwood Town to come from behind to win 2-1 at Victory Park in front of the BT Sport cameras. The following season a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Barrow set up a pulsating 2-2 draw against Doncaster at Victory Park in the first round.
Chorley’s best season in the FA Trophy was 1995-96, when they made the semi-finals before losing over two legs to eventual winners Macclesfield Town. Previously The Magpies qualified for the quarter-finals in 1976-77, going out to Dagenham.
During that run The Magpies 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.
As for the Club’s home ground, they’ve been based at Victory Park since 1920, after playing at Dole Lane, Rangletts Park and St George’s Park. Victory Park was named in commemoration of the First World War ending.
The main stand was destroyed by fire in November 1945, shortly after a crowd of 4,000 had watched The Magpies beat Football League club Accrington Stanley in the first leg of an FA Cup First Round tie.
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.
Forward Teddy Hodgson was in Burnley’s 1914 FA Cup-winning side.
Extravagant centre forward Lee Trundle appeared for the Magpies as a teenager in the mid-90s before enjoying a successful Football League career with Wrexham and Swansea City before moving to Bristol City for £1 million in 2007 and helping The Robins reach the Championship play-off final.
Winger Steve Jones had a brief spell at Chorley in 1999 before winning Northern Ireland honours four years later.