West have a proud history at the centre of the south Manchester community. Read on to find out more about our story.
Christ Church AFC are founded by R.F. Hartley, Sunday School Superintendent at St Luke’s Church on Burton Road.
From 1908 until 1914, the club play at Shorts Farm in Wilmslow Road, with changing facilities in the cellar of the adjoining Golden Lion pub. Both pitch and pub have long since been redeveloped.
After a few years playing friendlies against the likes of Withington Hospital and Pendlebury Colliery, Christ Church join the Manchester Alliance League and compete until the outbreak of the First World War.
Shortly before the war, the club move to the Christie playing field, between Christ Church on Darley Avenue and Barlow Moor Road.
J.C. Edwards reforms the club following the end of the First World War. To raise funds, members are given subscription books and canvas local residents and businesses for support. Among those canvassed are merchants on the affuluent Barlow Moor Road and shopkeepers of Burton Road.
Having raised finance, the next target is admittance to a competitive league. J.C. Edwards is again integral, using his contacts to apply for both the Lancashire Amateur League and the Lancashire & Cheshire Amateur League ahead of the 1920/21 season.
Both leagues accept the club, and the Lancashire & Cheshire Amateur League is chosen due to its fewer long away trips. As a result of league rules forbidding club names associated to other organisations, the club is renamed West Didsbury AFC.
“West Didsbury AFC” is engraved on a trophy for the first time as the Aggregate Trophy, awarded to the club with the highest combined points total for first and second teams, is won ahead of rivals Bramhall
The club move across Christies to occupy a pitch vacated by Old Trafford St John’s. Funds to cover this and the usual expenses were raised by events held in the West Didsbury Public Hall on Burton Road.
Despite an erratic league season, West secure the Rhodes Cup for the first time. Davenport are defeated 2-1 in the final thanks to goals from Holmes and Brierley.
In the 1920s and 30s, the club becomes notable for its sizeable fanbase. Former L&C League President W.A. Willamson recalled: “I as a player with Bradford Parish in the later 1920s and early 30s remember many hard battles with West Didsbury who in those days were one of the very best teams in the League. The ground at Christies was surrounded two or three deep all round the pitch, such was the interest in the leading Lancashire and Cheshire League sides”.
The club’s activities are overtaken by the outbreak of the Second World War. On 9th March, secretary Cliff Hughes notes that the club is discontinued due to a shortage of playing members.
Despite this, an Annual General Meeting is held on 20th May at which it is agreed to continue the club in order to devote efforts to junior football.
The club also organises a comforts fund for members already serving or soon to serve in the armed forces. The fund, which provides serving members with regular donations and contact from club members and friends in Manchester, continues until 1946.
The club recommence activities in full following the end of the war. The opening fixture of the 46/47 season is a dramatic 5-5 draw with rivals South Salford.
Despite 3rd place finishes in 1948 and 1949, West fall away and endure a terrible season. Rusholme win a play-off 3-1 to confirm West’s first-ever relegation and end a 32-year spell in the L&C League’s top flight.
West’s spell in the L&C League’s second tier is short-lived as 2nd place, behind fellow relegated side Old Standians, confirms an immediate return to the First Division.
Despite promotion, the following years were an inconsistent period for the club. Another relegation followed in 1959/60 and a return to the First Division wasn’t to follow until six seasons later. In 1963/64, West were close to an ignominious drop to the Third Division, with only a series of new signings lifting the team to safety.
Despite only finishing 9th in the Second Division, West secure the Rhodes Cup for the second time after beating Monton Amateurs 3-2 after extra time.
The Rhodes Cup success proves to be a false dawn as West hit an all-time low, relegated to the Third Division after a nightmarish season of just three wins.
A root-and-branch review of the club confirms a need for more coherence between the first and second teams. In November 1975, the Albert Club on Old Lansdowne Road agree to let the club use their facilities for after-match meetings and Christmas events.
This move, along with the creation of a club newsletter, revitalises West.
West knock out Birch Vale, West Flixton, Alderley St Phillips and Royton Amateurs on their way to the Whitehead Cup final against First Division side Heywood GSOB.
The Football Pink reports: “Third Division West Didsbury inscribed their names on the Whitehead Cup for the first time with a superb win over First Division Heywood. Rob Turley gave West Didsbury the lead in the second half and wrapped it up with a second with 20 minutes to go after they had soaked up some tremendous pressure”.
Manchester and Salford Playing Fields Society give the club notice to leave Christies after selling the land for commercial development.
West shrug off the eviction to enjoy a successful period towards the end of the 1980s. Consecutive championships – in the Third and Second Divisions – are secured in 1988 and 1989, and the Aggregate Trophy is won for the first time since 1928 in the 1987/88 season.
After several years’ nomadic existence, the club acquires the redundant and overgrown Recreation Ground at Brookburn Road in Chorlton and makes plans to restore the ground and develop a vision for a community club.
The club is renamed West Didsbury & Chorlton AFC to reflect the new location.
Election to the Manchester League is secured, ending the club’s long stay in the Lancashire & Cheshire Amateur League.
In the final game of the club’s centenary year, West lift the Murray Shield – the first silverware of the Manchester League era.
The first team wins the Manchester League First Division title with 65 points from a possible 72, one of the highest points totals in Manchester League history.
Floodlights are erected at the Recreation Ground in time for West to play in the FA Vase for the first time, losing 2-0 at Ashville in the Second Qualifying Round.
The club’s ascent continues with election to Step 6 and the North West Counties Football League. In a remarkable first season, West are promoted to the Premier Division and win the First Division Cup with a 1-0 win over Abbey Hey at Runcorn Linnets’ Millbank Stadium.
West compete in the FA Cup for the first time, beating Abbey Hey 2-0 in the Extra Preliminary Round before bowing out at home to Burscough.
West make national headlines for hammering Dinnington Town 15-1 in the FA Vase, the biggest win in the competition’s history. Later that season, Jeff Smith MP opens new facilities at Hardy Farm and plans are drawn up to expand the Brookburn Road clubhouse and spectactor areas.
However, the season ends on a sad note with the death of Rob Turley, a man who had been involved with West Didsbury & Chorlton for over 40 years and the mastermind behind the club’s move to semi-pro football.
West celebrate another landmark as the women’s section begin play. The new team finish 2nd in the NWWRFL First Division South in their first season, reach the semi-finals of the Manchester FA Women’s Cup and reach first round proper of the Women’s FA Cup.
812 fans watch West beat Maine Road in a May Bank Holiday Monday derby, setting a new attendance record.
A season of contrasting fortunes as the men’s side are relegated to the NWCFL First Division South after six seasons at Step 5. However, the women’s first and development teams are crowned champions of their respective leagues and earn promotion – the first team achieving an unbeaten season.
Despite two years’ disruption due to the coronavirus pandemic, the club remain in a strong position with men’s, women’s, juniors’ and veteran’s sides sporting the white and black across the North West on a weekly basis and one of the largest fanbases in local non-league football.
A 2-1 win at Barnton confirms West as NWCFL First Division South champions for 2021/22 and signals a return to the Premier Division.