Northern Premier League

Club History

History of Vauxhall Motors FC

Founded in 1963, shortly after the new car plant was opened in Ellesmere Port, Vauxhall Motors quickly outgrew their humble beginnings in the Ellesmere Port League and the Wirral Combination and in 1965 gained admittance to the Second Division of the West Cheshire League. By the end of the decade, they were operating in Division One on the company owned Hooton Park inside the plant.

In the 70s the club consolidated its position but without much overall success. In the 80s the Sports & Social Club bought land adjoining its clubhouse and plans were soon afoot to transfer all outside sporting activities to the Rivacre Road site.

After a lot of hard work, the new ground, known as Rivacre Park, was officially opened in 1987 by then England manager Bobby Robson, who brought a team including a number of former internationals for an opening game. By then the club had recovered from its leanest days of the late 70s to clinch their first West Cheshire League championship in 1985-86.

The following season they reached their first Cheshire Amateur Cup final, lifted the Wirral Senior Cup and successfully applied to join the North West Counties League for the 1987-88 campaign, as Vauxhall G. M., whilst still keeping two Motors teams in the West Cheshire League. After a solid first season, the ‘Motormen’ cruised to a superb Division Two title in 1989, losing just once in the process. In their first season in Division One, G. M. finished a creditable fourth. The following season they lifted the North West Counties League Cup at Bury, by defeating Darwen 2-0 thanks to Lee Warriner who struck both goals that evening.

The following season saw the committee stretched to its limits and it was decided to withdraw G. M. from the North West Counties League and concentrate on West Cheshire League football. After finishing third in each of the next two seasons, 1994-95 saw the club win both divisions of the West Cheshire League, a feat only achieved twice before in the League’s 103-year history and they were accepted back into the North West Counties League again.

In their first season back, they romped to the Second Division title but stuttered on their return to Division One though they reached the semi-finals of the Cheshire Senior Cup. The next season saw the ‘Motormen’ improve on their standing to finish fourth, whilst reaching the county cup semi-finals once more and the League Cup Final at Gigg Lane, losing to champions Kidsgrove Athletic 1-0 in arguably the most memorable final yet, as it was played in a monsoon!

In the 1998-99 season the club reached new heights, under a new management team led by Alvin McDonald. He guided his young side to the Fifth Round of the F. A. Carlsberg Vase for the first time in the club’s history, finished in their best ever league position (3rd) and ended a memorable campaign by lifting the League Cup by defeating Prescot Cables in a replay at White Moss Park.

But this was just a sample of the success that was about to unfold. In his second season in charge, Alvin guided the club to even greater heights. Defeat in the semi-finals of the F. A. Carlsberg Vase, losing 1-0 to Chippenham in extra time, could not dent their drive towards the NWCL championship with four games to spare. For good measure, they also carried off the Floodlit Trophy, whilst their reserves in the West Cheshire captured the Centenary Pyke Cup for the first time in the club’s history, as well as reaching the Wirral Senior Cup final.

Their baptism into the Unibond was nothing short of spectacular. The Motormen enjoyed a wonderful start to their First Division campaign (2000-01) and despite the transfer of top scorer Gregg Blundell to Northwich in mid-season, they ended the season in good form, to clinch an unexpected runners-up spot and with it, promotion to the Unibond Premier at the first attempt.

After successive promotions, consolidation may have been considered the name of the game at Rivacre Park, but not for the management and players! They continued to defy the odds throughout this campaign and finished with a superb spell, to lift the runners-up trophy by a stunning eleven points from the third-placed club, behind runaway champions, Burton Albion.

The Motormen made national headlines in the late autumn of 2002-03, when dumping Ian Holloway’s QPR out of the F. A. Cup, in their first ever appearance in the First Round, before losing 2-0 away to Macclesfield by virtue of two late goals in front of the Sky TV cameras in Round Two. They ended the league season in third place, while the reserves lifted the West Cheshire League championship thanks to a stunning late charge under Steve leyland.

In November 2003, the vastly experienced Owen Brown was installed as the club’s new manager, after Alvin McDonald left Rivacre Park for Conference club Northwich Victoria, and after a difficult couple of months, he completely transformed the club’s fortunes, as they rose from 21st place at the end of January to a very respectable ninth, losing just twice in their last nineteen league games, to clinch a place in the newly formed Conference North. In their first season they finished 15th.

In November 2004, the Motormen reached the 1st Round of the F A Cup and were drawn away to Bury. A Dave Nugent inspired Shakers ran out 5-2 winners but the goal of the day came from Vauxhall’s Wayne McDermott.

In 2005, results had taken a turn for the worst and the manager resigned after a seventh straight defeat, to be replaced by Carl Macauley, another former player. He managed to steer us away from relegation and a further improvement was made the following season.

In August 2007, Carl recruited former Wolves striker Andy Mutch as his assistant, who enjoyed a great double act with former England international Steve Bull for seven years at Molyneux. Carl had to step down in October, leaving Andy in charge. It was during his short reign that the club developed striker Paul Taylor, who went on to play for Peterborough United, Ipswich Town, Rotherham United, Bradford City and Doncaster Rovers.

Carl returned to his managerial role in March 2008 and in the following campaign, he guided the Motormen to their highest ever Conference North position of 11th. The club reached the 1st Round of the F A Cup in November 2010, gaining a creditable goalless draw away at Hartlepool before losing the home replay 1-0. In May 2011, Carl had to stand down once more, allowing his assistant Anthony Wright to step up, alongside former Notts. County striker Gary Martindale, only to return to his post once again in November.

When the club announced its intention to resign from the Conference North in March 2014, due to severe financial concerns, Carl was quickly snapped up by Chester as assistant to Steve Burr. The club returned to its West Cheshire League roots and Alan Schumacker, a former Motors defender, took charge of team affairs.

After two third place finishes, it was decided to change management. Former boss Anthony Wright and his cousin Joe were appointed but their rein did not last long and by November 2016, Karl Bell was appointed as team boss. In his first full season (2017/18) the club remained undefeated until just before Christmas, but then lost their way in the second half of the campaign and ended up as runners-up.

The club re-applied to join the NWCFL once more and were successful in that respect, being placed in the new Division One South. Karl Bell was replaced by former Motors striker Mick McGraa that summer from Cammell Lairds 1907 and he immediately brought in a new squad that managed to clinch a wonderful runners-up spot in his first season in charge. And were on course for the title the following season, until the Coronavirus struck and the season was declared “null and void” by the FA.

We had already secured promotion that season so this was a real body blow. Undeterred, we returned in 2020-21 with renewed hope and went unbeaten in a “curtailed” campaign and at the top of the table. Thankfully, some sense prevailed and the FA decided to implement the delayed restructuring of the pyramid and as a result, Motors were “uplifted” into the NWCL premier Division for for 2021-22 season.

In the 2022/23 season, their second back in the NWCFL Premier Division, Motors amassed a staggering total of 95 points, winning the league by 8 points. A very strong division, of which included Bury AFC, Avro, Wythenshawe Town and more, Mick McGraa’s side secured promotion to the Northern Premier League Division One West.

Chronological History of Vauxhall Motors FC

1963 Football Club was formed by former West Bromwich Albion player, Fred Ward, shortly after the opening of the new Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port. Playing at Hooton Park inside the plant complex, the new club joined the Ellesmere Port League.
1965 Early success, results in the club being elected into the Second Division of the West Cheshire League, whilst a reserve team is formed and joins the Wirral Combination.
1967 Dave Edmunds, the present-day secretary of the Sports & Social Club, is appointed football club secretary.
1968 Vauxhall win their first piece of silverware in the West Cheshire League, lifting the Second Division Cup, known as the ‘West Cheshire Bowl’.
1969 Elected to the First Division of the West Cheshire League from third place.
1970 Reached the semi-finals of both the West Cheshire League’s senior cup, the ‘Pyke’ and the Wirral Senior Cup, under former Welsh international Tecwyn Jones.
1971 Second team are elected to the Second Division of the West Cheshire League, just six years after the senior side.
1973 Pyke Cup finalists for the first time, losing 2-1 to Willaston at Prenton Park.
1978 Second team lose West Cheshire status.
1979 Reached the semi-finals of the Cheshire Amateur Cup for the first time, losing to Crewe Rolls Royce. VMS&SC declare an interest in the 23-acre site of farmland surrounding the clubhouse in Rivacre Road and ultimately, agree a purchase price of £60,000.
1980 VMS&SC become owners of the land adjoining the clubhouse on Rivacre Road. Tony Woodley, a future long-time Chairman of the club, is appointed club manager.
1981 Ray Condliffe is appointed club secretary.
1982 A huge football ground improvement scheme is launched for Rivacre Road site, including a permanent pitch surround and a covered standing area.
1983 Reached the semi-final of the Cheshire Amateur Cup and the final of the Wirral Senior Cup, losing in extra time to Poulton Vics. Reserves finish as runners-up in the South Wirral League, but lift both the League Cup and Wirral Junior Cup, and are re-elected to the West Cheshire League. The old New Brighton FC floodlights are erected at Hooton Park and Tranmere Rovers paid the club the compliment of fielding a full first team in a commemorative match. Bank loan of £45,000 repaid after successful club lottery launched. Rivacre Road site is cultivated and land drainage completed.                                                              1984 Plant manager agrees to support future development at Rivacre Road with a cash injection of £50,000 spread over five years. West Cheshire League runners-up and finalists of the Wirral Senior Cup, losing 2-0 to West Kirby.
1985 Reached the semi-final of the Cheshire Senior Cup for the first time, losing to then Alliance club, Runcorn. A re-negotiated brewery loan of £90,000 from Tetley Walker enables the club committee to pass plans for the building of a new changing room complex at Rivacre Road. Billy Beckett is club secretary.
1986 Manager Jim Fearns, guides Vauxhall to their first West Cheshire League title, while the reserves lift the Wirral Amateur Cup, defeating Capenhurst Villa 1-0. Work progresses on the new Rivacre Road complex, including the dressing rooms, perimeter wall and sponsors lounge.
1987 Defeated 4-3 by Stork in the Centenary Cheshire Amateur Cup final at Prenton Park, but return to the same venue to lift their first Wirral Senior Cup by beating Poulton Vics 2-1. ‘Rivacre Park’ is officially opened by then England manager Bobby Robson, before a commemorative match against an England F.A. XI, which attracts 1,500 spectators. Club joins the North West Counties League as ‘Vauxhall GM’, leaving two sides in the West Cheshire League under the ‘Motors’ banner.
1988 Finish a very creditable fourth in their first season in the NWCL Second Division.
1989 Lift the NWCL Second Division championship under Tony McVey, losing just one league match.
1991 Lift the NWC League Cup, defeating Darwen 2-0 at Gigg Lane, Bury, whilst finishing fourth in Division One.
1992 Forced to resign from NWCL and concentrate on West Cheshire League football, as the committee is stretched to the limit, trying to look after three sides.
1994 Motors spurn a 2-0 lead in the Cheshire Amateur Cup final against Cammell Laird at the Deva Stadium, eventually losing 3-2.
1995 Win both divisions of the West Cheshire League and are also finalists in the Wirral Senior Cup, losing 2-1 to Cammell Laird at Prenton Park. Rejoin NWCL as ‘GM’ once again.
1996 Terry McLean leads the club to a second successive championship, by lifting the NWCL Second Division at the first attempt. Two new terraced stands are built to facilitate promotion. The manager resigns in the closed season and Paul Rowlands is appointed as McLean’s successor but lasts just four months, which enables McLean to be installed as boss for a second time at the end of the year.
1998 Beaten 1-0 by champions Kidsgrove Athletic in the NWC League Cup final at Gigg Lane, in monsoon conditions following a freak storm. McLean resigns and Alvin McDonald is appointed club manager that summer.
1999 The club gains its highest ever league position of third in McDonald’s first season in charge. They also reach the last sixteen of the F. A. Vase and lift the NWC League Cup, defeating Prescot Cables 1-0 in a replay at White Moss Park. The ‘GM’ club is wound up, enabling the two clubs to come under one umbrella as ‘Motors’. Jimmy Butler, a former club manager, becomes the Youth Development Officer and plans are in hand to run teams from Under-11 to Under-15 in the Eastham & District Junior League. The snack bar is completely refurbished. Mark Pearson collapses and dies on the pitch at Northwich Victoria’s Drill Field, during a Cheshire Senior Cup tie.
2000 New souvenir shop opens and additional turnstiles are installed in readiness for Unibond League football. Reach the semi-final of the F. A. Vase, losing to an extra time goal at Chippenham, but bounce back to lift the NWCL title and the Floodlit Trophy, while the second team capture the Centenary ‘Pyke’ Cup for the first time in the club’s history, defeating Ashville 5-2 (at Rivacre Park!) Unfortunately, they were denied a cup double, when losing 2-1 to Cammell Laird after extra time in the Wirral Senior Cup. Those achievements led to Vauxhall Motors FC being named ‘North West Club-of-the-Year’ by the Non-League Directory.
2001 Surpassing their own expectations, Vauxhall gain a second successive promotion, by finishing as Unibond First Division runners-up to Bradford Park Avenue, at the first attempt. Re-enter the F. A. Cup, reaching the fourth qualifying round, before losing a home replay to Lancaster City.
2002 Incredibly, McDonald’s ‘Motormen’ end their first season in the Unibond Premier Division as clear runners-up to runaway champions, Burton Albion. They also reach the 4th round of the F. A. Trophy for the first time, defeated by Northwich Victoria in front of 1,019 at Rivacre Park. Ended the year in front of the televisions cameras, following a terrific F. A. Cup run. Defeated QPR at Loftus Road in a First Round replay on penalties after a goalless draw at the Deva Stadium (att.3509) but lost their Second Round tie away at Macclesfield, in front of the Sky cameras, but virtue of two late home gaols.
2003 Ended the second Unibond Premier Division campaign in third place, whilst the reserves lifted the West Cheshire League championship under manager Steve Leyland by winning their final twelve matches. Club manager Alvin McDonald resigns in September, to take over at Conference club Northwich Victoria. Former Tranmere, Carlisle and Vauxhall striker Owen Brown is appointed as his successor a month later. Alan Bartlam becomes chairman in October.
2004 After a difficult first few months in charge, the ‘Motormen’ hit top form at the end of January and ended the season unbeaten in their final thirteen games, to clinch a place in the new Conference North. New floodlights installed and stand refurbished. Reached 1st round of F A Cup, beaten away at Bury 5-2.
2005 Finish the new Conference North in 15th place, a very creditable performance given the club are clearly fighting above their weight in this tough new competition but by the end of the year, Owen Brown had resigned following a poor run of results, to be replaced by Carl Macauley.
2007 Carl recruited former Wolves striker Andy Mutch as his assistant. Carl resigns due to work commitments in October and Andy steps up to the post of manager. He secured hugely talented Paul Taylor on an extended contract. Paul went on to play for Peterborough, Anderlecht, Ipswich and Rotherham.
2008 Carl returns as manager and the club is reprieved from relegation ended by in 21st place and in the following season (2008/09) he guides Motors to their highest ever Conference North position of 11th, assisted by Anthony Wright and former Notts. County striker Gary Martindale.
2010 Reprieved from relegation from the Conference North for a second time when finishing in 20th place in the table.
2013 Finished a very creditable 12th in the Conference North.
2014 Resign from the Conference North due to severe financial issues and return to the West Cheshire League (step 7). Carl Macauley recruited by Chester soon after and former defender Alan Schumacker takes charge of team affairs. Finish a disappointing third in next two seasons.
2016 Alan Schumacker replaced by former club boss Anthony Wright and his cousin Joe but their rein only lasts three months and Karl Bell appointed manager from Prescot Cables.
2017 A wonderful start to Karl’s first full season (2017/18) evaporates after Christmas and the club finish a disappointing second in the table. Tony Woodley becomes chairman once more.
2018 Successfully apply to rejoin the NWCFL and appoint Mick McGraa, a former Motors striker, as their new boss, having guided Cammell Lairds to great heights the previous season. New clubhouse opens, along with a second 4G floodlit pitch.
2019 Mick guides Motors to the runners-up spot in the Hallmark Security League Division One South in his first season in charge. Floodlights erected on Rivacre Road pitch.
2020 Motors take the league by storm – until the Coronavirus strikes in March and season declared “null & void”. Only a few games played in the 2020-21 season. We were top when campaign declared “curtailed”.
2021 FA restructuring enables Motors to be “uplifted” into the NWCL Premier Division on the strength of the two previous shortened seasons.