NORTHWICH Vics boss Andy Preece had nothing but pride and praise for his players after they ended their Blue Square Premier season with a stunning series of six victories.
Relegated Vics refused to just accept the season was over when they were cut adrift in the bottom four of the league and ended up in 22nd place ahead of Weymouth and Lewes.
And they arguably saved their best until last when they stunned Oxford United in front of more than 10,000 fans, beating the play-off chasing U’s 2-1 on Sunday (see page 30).
After a season which saw Preece become Vics’ fourth manager of the season, following the exits of Dino Maamria, Mike Marsh and Steve King; the club locked out of their Marston’s Arena home by ex-chairman Mike Connett and a crippling transfer embargo placed upon them, Vics supporters have had their patience tested to the maximum.
But under the guidance of owner Jim Rushe, with Preece and assistant Andy Morrison, the future looks brighter than it did six months ago.
Rushe will be eager to sign Preece on a permanent basis this summer and the former Crystal Palace star is keen to stay, even if other clubs, impressed by the job he has done during his short tenure at Northwich, try and tempt him away.
He said: “Nobody has been in touch and hopefully I can sit down with Jim next week and we’ll see what the situation is. As long as we can compete financially in that league, I’d like to keep as many of the players as I can so the budget is going to be very important.”
Preece added that the shock victory at Oxford, that was marred by a pitch invasion during which Vics defender Danny Meadowcroft was allegedly hit on the head with a supporters flag, was just what his players deserved after playing for most of the year without their wages being paid.
“If you had told people eight or 10 weeks ago that we would win six games in a row and go to Oxford and beat them on the last day of the season, they would have laughed in your face. But it came as no surprise to me,” he added.