by Krysta Eaves, Evening Gazette
NORTON chairman Mick Mulligan has hailed visiting supporters after a record breaking day at Station Road.
Norton drew its biggest-ever crowd of 1,526 fans to the their cosy Station Road home as they played FC United of Manchester in the third qualifying round of the FA Cup - their best showing ever.
A noisy - and thirsty - crowd of almost 1,000 travelling fans arrived from Manchester for the game prompting a headache for a ground that usually only hosts a sedate 150 for Northern League games.
The game - which Norton lost 5-2 - was given the full police matchday operation usually associated with Boro, including mounted police and helicopter buzzing overhead.
But Mulligan praised the visitors and insisted: “We’d have them back again any time.
“They were fantastic. We had heard they could be a bit of a handful but they were great.
“They were very noisy and there was a lively pitch invasion at the end but it was all good natured fun.
“They pretty much drank the club house dry and all the pies went too.
“But they weren’t a bit of bother. The atmosphere was fantastic and it was a cracking match and the away supporters and officials couldn’t praise us enough for the warmth of the welcome and the way our team played.”
Norton general manager, Steve Lawson, who had co-ordinated the arrangements said: “The number of fans was around 10-fold to what we normally get but it went off without a problem and it was a good old-fashioned cup tie.
“It was a great day for non-league football. Fans came, had a sing and a chant and joined in the euphoria.”
The club had brought in extra toilets, burger vans and laid on a sweet stall for younger fans.
The club also arranged for a club members and regular supporters to act as volunteer stewards and players from the junior teams were ball-boys.
Mr Lawson said: “It was a bit of a headache having to organise things, but it was absolutely worth it to see the end product.
“We had compliments from fans saying they had enjoyed themselves.
“We’re hoping as a club we proved we can put on a show on and off the field, and that people will come back again.”