Monday, 18 November 2013


I am travelling to the pleasant leafy 'village' of Bournville, in Birmingham today to see some Cup action. It's the 2nd Round of the Birmingham FA Saturday Vase, that sees Cadbury Athletic, of the Midland Combination Div 1, at home to the visiting team of Team Dudley, from the West Midlands League, Div 2.

This is a new ground and a new competition for me. I have had my eye on a visit here for a while now and with a 1:30 pm kick-off, it means I will be able to take photos in natural light for 90 minutes.

I arrive at the ground in Bournville Lane after leaving the nearby rail station.It's a cool,cloudy day and I arrive 15 minutes before the game starts, enough time for a cuppa in the refreshment area on the ground level of the magnificent Pavilion building that is also home to the cricket club. The changing rooms are just to the back of this area.

The teams come out with the Cadbury team in their usual colours of purple and white (the same as the company's) and Dudley are in all-red.
Cadbury Athletic are currently at the top of their League table while Team Dudley are also doing well in 2nd place in their's. Dudley ground share at Dudley Town's Dell Stadium and are the senior team of Dudley College.

Their are 2 main football fields at Bournville Lane along with 2 smaller pitches. There is also a Bowls Green in the corner and in the summer months cricket is played here too. 

As the game kicks off there seems to be about 30 spectators around the pitch. Cadbury Athletic have started off brightly and the visiting keeper has to be on his toes.

            ( Cadbury's Cordell Jones, fends off the Team Dudley No.5)

Dudley though do get some attacks going and it's quite an even game. Cadbury though take the lead on 20 minutes when Cordell Jones, acrobatically volleys in from the edge of the penalty area, taking everybody by surprise.

             (A kneeling Cordell Jones, watches the ball cross the line)

Within the next 11 minutes, Cadbury score another 3 goals and the tie as a contest is over. The Dudley coach is not a happy man and it looks as if the score is going to be 8 or 9-0 at this rate.

The students however manage to make it to the interval with no more goals conceded. Cadbury are a very good attacking team and should be in the Premier Division of their League on this showing.

Team Dudley seem to having more of the possession in the 2nd half although they are not troubling the Cadbury keeper in to action much.

                                      ( A rare Team Dudley free-kick )

Although Cadbury's score another goal, Dudley manage to score a consolation goal a few minutes before the end and they have certainly kept battling to the end, which does them credit.

             (Cadbury striker, Stuart Butcher attacks the Dudley defence)

So Cadbury have booked their place to 3rd Round and it will be interesting to see who they play next in this competition.

Cadbury's Recreation Ground is well worth a visit even though there is not much in the way of cover, unless you can shelter under The Pavilion.

Sunday, 17 November 2013


Today I am going to cover the Midland Combination match at the Triplex Sports Association ground in Kings Norton. The home team, Pilkington XXX, who are lying next to bottom in the Premier League table are taking on 10th placed Stafford Town.

Indeed this is the second time in the last week that these 2 teams have locked horns. The previous game, a Les James Cup tie at Stafford's Evans Park, was a bit of a classic, the game went to extra time and Stafford triumphed in a 6-4 win. I think both team's managers must have had a few sleepless nights this week contemplating this match. Although both teams played in that recent exciting game, the attendance looks to be a poor one with kick-off just 5 minutes away. I can only count another 8 other spectators in the ground at this point. Thankfully there are some latecomers and a few more emerge from the club house. 

Due decorum is observed, when after both teams take to the field, a minutes silence is observed in respect of the fallen in the World Wars.

Stafford have to wear their 2nd strip of all yellow today while Pilkington are in their red and dark blue kit. The day has a definite autumnal feel to it, distinctly chilly with the sun having to struggle from out of the clouds.

Pilkington start off in attack mode and are definitely looking to make amends for last week's result. Stafford have great difficulty in breaking out of their own half for the first 10 minutes.

Although Pilkington are in territorial control of the game so far, they are struggling to put the ball in the net. Stafford though do come back in to the match for the last 20 minutes of the first half.

             ( Odane Barnes battles against two Stafford defenders)

In my view the best chance of the half, sees Stafford's No.11 attempting to clear the ball from his team's penalty area but only succeeds in giving the ball to the Pilkington centre-forward, who opts for placing his shot and sees it turned around the post by the keeper. Should have been 1-0! 

All in all, I think Pilkington should be ahead at half-time and I'm sure the Manager will be telling the players that too.

The second-half sees Pilkington still in the ascendancy and after 63 minutes they take the lead! Their lively muscular forward, Odane Barnes, who scored a hat-trick in the cup game at Stafford the previous Saturday, is left unmarked at a free-kick and duly obliges by rising up and flicking the ball with his head in to the net.

     ( Goal scorer, Odane Barnes is engulfed by excuberant team mates)

While the players are trekking back to the half way line, a member of the Pilkington coaching team who is passing by, shouts encouragingly 'Come on The Pilks, let's build on this!'  Unfortunately his words seem to goad the Stafford team to act in retribution and within the next minute have equalised. I didn't even see the goal as I was quickly checking on my camera if I had captured the Pilkington goal (I got the player on screen but not in focus).

So Pilkington are trying desperately now to recapture the lead but Stafford Town are dangerous on the break.

The game ends with the teams all-square but I thought Pilkington shaded it on the day and their display bodes well I think for the rest of the season.

Sunday, 3 November 2013


A few days ago I realised that I had ignored the West Midlands League so far this season, so decided to rectify this, this Saturday. I also thought it would be a good opportunity to visit a new ground too and 2 grounds came to mind while scanning over the fixture list, namely those of Cradley Town and Dudley Sports. Both are reachable by bus from Stourbridge too.

So today I am travelling by train to the Stourbridge Town station and the forecast is not too bad, cloudy but not much rain. After getting to Stourbridge Junction station I see the connecting shuttle train to the 'Town' station just disappearing round the corner. Rats! So instead of waiting another 10 mins for it to come back, I decide to stretch my legs and take the 15-20 minute walk to the town centre.

I get in to town and have a look round the shops, noting along the way that they have completed the new shopping area by the new Tesco and the new entrance for the Library. Also I find a Record/CD fair at a local church, which I find out is to be found there on the first Saturday of the month. There are some good potential buys there but decide not to be extravagant today.

After a good meal at a French style cafe/restaurant I phone up the number for Cradley's ground and am told the good news that the game is going ahead despite the recent rain. I take the No.142 'Diamond' bus for Halesowen which passes near the Cradley ground. After a 20 minutes bus journey I take the five minute walk to Beeches View Avenue where the driveway to 'The Beeches' ground can be found.

I get to the entrance and part with £4 entrance fee + £1 for a programme, which proves to be a good read. It has recent match reports with photos too!

Cradley's ground is a bit of a ramshackle affair. By the ground entrance is the Club House and the eastern end of the pitch. This is covered but with no seats. The ground is situated on the side of a hill overlooking the nearby countryside. The pitch slopes a bit from one side to the other. There is a small stand with 2 rows of seats on the higher side of the pitch and at the western end of the ground is another stand with more seats in the middle. I go to this end as I will be sheltered from the stiff wind and won't be taking my photos in to the sun.  

When the teams take to the pitch I see that Black Country Rangers are in their 2nd strip of all pale blue as Cradley play in all red. Rangers are doing very well with 12 wins from 13 matches and lie 3rd in the table. Cradley meanwhile are in 9th position.

     (Full-back, Alex Hammond (left) lunges in to tackle this Cradley player)

I see that there is another photographer nearby and find out it is another 'ground hopper' I met at an FA Vase match at Walsall Wood last season, who has travelled from Market Drayton in Shropshire. He tells me that he came here before...20 years ago!

The match is being played in autumn sunshine and for the early part of the 1st half, the visitors are looking the more dangerous. However Cradley get in to the game more and go close a couple of times before they take the lead, when Scott Devlin fires in a great free kick in to the net from the right.


         (Scott Devlin, seen here being congratulated by his team mates)

There is another photographer who joins us at this end of the ground. It's the Club Secretary's wife, Jean Attwood, who takes the photos for the Cradley programme. She is very pleased that she has captured a snap of the goal.

Rangers are awarded a penalty when one of their players is pushed over in the box. With five minutes to go to the interval this will put them back on track. However their penalty taker shoots too close to Matt Jones the Cradley keeper and he blocks the shot with his legs.

So 1-0 to Cradley at half-time and an upset is on the cards as the home team are playing well.

The weather is taking a change for the worse though and we have a shower for 5-10 minutes. Although the rain goes, the cloud doesn't and when the teams come back, it's decidedly murky. For the first 10 minutes of this half, it's pretty dark and then the nearest set of floodlights come to life. It takes another 10 minutes for the other floodlights to come on, one after the other down the pitch.

Back to the football and Cradley start the brighter, fashion out 2 good chances and the fancied Rangers are looking decidedly rattled. Gradually Black Country do get back back in to the match and after 57 minutes, equalise through their No.9, Jozsef Jakab. I wonder if he comes from Poland? 

                          (Jakab is congratulated on his equaliser) 

Black Country Rangers finish the game, well on top and score a third before the end, although I don't think it's a fair reflection of the whole match. I think Cradley have played well today and were certainly in the running for the first 60 minutes.

                       (Jozsef Jakab goes close again with a header)

The attendance today looks about 50-60 to me and Black Country move in to 2nd place in the table behind the leaders, Cradley's Black Country rivals, Lye Town.

The Beeches is a 'homely' quirky little ground, that's certainly worth a visit, with plenty of shelter from the elements at this time of year.