Friday, 14 October 2016

Bilston Town - Queen Street

Bilston Town FC
Queen Street Stadium
West Midlands
WV14 7EX

Ground Number: 635
Wednesday 12th October 2016
Bilston Town 1-2 Boldmere S&S Falcons

Smedley Crooke Memorial Cup 1st Round


BILSTON TOWN were formed in 1894 and have a long an varied history. Known under various names during their history, they finally settled on their current moniker in 1983. They started out oin local leagues and after playing in the Birmingham Combination for a number of years, they joined the West Midlands Regional League in 1962, never dropping out of its top division in their first spell. They won the league in 1973 but it wasn't until 1985 when they joined the Southern League, following a runners-up spot in the WMRL Premier. They stayed in the Southern League's second tier for the entirety of their stay. 2000/01 saw their best ever season, finishing 3rd behind Hinckley and Tiverton Town. They were just a point away from gaining promotion to the Southern Premier but the following season they finished 17th and resigned from the league and dropped a few levels to the WMRL D1 North. Those financial issued that caused the relegation never really disappeared and in 2007 the club had to reform as a new club, following an ownership wrangle. They've since recovered, and since 2013/14 they have been in the WMRL Premier, which sits at step 6 of the non league Pyramid, albeit generally finding things at this level tough going.

In the FA Cup Bilston Town had their best ever run in 1972/73 when they reached the 2nd Round. Victories over local sides Halesowen Town, Stourbridge, Bromsgrove Rovers  and Brierley Hill Alliance set up a tricky looking tie in Devon against Barnstaple Town. They came through that 2-0 and this set up another trip, this time to Barnet, They drew 1-1 in London, before losing 1-0 in the replay at home, missing out on a tie against top flight side QPR. They also had good runs  in the FA Trophy - reaching the 4th Round in 2000/01 and the FA Vase - reaching the Quarter Final in 1992/93. Ironically their nemesis on both occasions was nemesis was Essex side Canvey Island. A huge number of local cups have been won including the Staffordshire Senior Cup on 6 occasions and the Walsall Cup 10 times.


This game had been decided and finalised on Monday, for myself and fellow hopper Chris's regular Wednesday groundhop. Kimberley Miners Welfare was our initial choice, but after looking through the Football Traveller, I noticed that Bilston Town had a home game in the Smedley Crooke Memorial Cup against Boldmere Sport & Social. With us both  having wanted to go to that venue for a while, we settled on it/ On the day of the game, work was not as busy as I'd feared, but I still didn't get home until just after 1, giving me just under 2 hours to get changed, freshened up and have lunch, as well as an ever growing list of other stuff I needed to do. I'd hoped to complete one of my 4 outstanding blogs, and do some research for tonight's game, but computer problems meant that I wasn't able to accomplish any. I'm starting to seriously doubt my decision to move back to Windows after 7 years of using a Mac as it's been littered with annoyances so far. As a result I didn't have time to make up my flask before leaving at 3, meeting Chris an hour later at his work.

Traffic was pretty heavy on the way, and there was 40 minutes delay with us getting to Bilston at 6.10. After parking up we went to the local Wetherspoons,  the Sir Henry Newbolt  where myself and Chris had the triple chicken feast with a bottle of Hazy Hog cider before heading back to the ground. We paid £5 entry and £1 for what was a decent programme. The ground was a cracker with bags of character and we both knew we'd made the right choice tonight. It was pretty tight with few chances but Boldmere took the lead on 25 minutes with a header from a decent cross. Though the hosts had a few chances, they still trailed at the break, and justifiably so,  given the balance of play. Bilston offered very little and so it was no surprise when Boldmere doubled their lead 20 minutes from time,  the number 10 finishing off a well placed cross from 6 yards. The hosts reduced the arrears a couple of minutes later,  netting from the penalty spot after a spot kick was awarded amidst a goalmouth scramble. Bilston came looking for an equaliser but never really threatened the visiting keeper. It was a significant giantkilling for Boldmere who sit a few levels below their comparatively illustrious opponents, though I'm not sure how strong a side Bilston put out though.

I left the ground at 9.45 and after initially making good time we got stuck in a traffic jam and subsequent diversion where the M6 joins the M1. After the half hour delay on last night's journey home, it was not the most welcome thing to happen, though at least it was only 15 minutes delay this time. I dropped Chris off in Milton Keynes at 11.25, getting home myself 50 minutes later. As usual, despite having work at 4am, I didn't feel sleepy for ages, only getting to sleep at 1am and having to grab a 4 hour nap the following afternoon.


QUEEN STREET is a great venue and one that most hoppers should visit. Its situated around a mile from the town centre. Here you will find a large range of takeaways serving all kinds of food and a decent range of pubs too. The Wetherspoons is well above average for the chain with a decent selection of real ales and ciders.

Back at the ground there is a large bar with your usual range of drinks. The food selection is great with a great range at reasonable prices. The preogramme is also a great effort, with plenty to read for the £1 asking price. As for the ground itself there is just the one seated stand, but it's large old style wooden one with seating for 300. The rest of the ground is open, apart from a small modern covered terrace behind one goal. The rest of the ground is open, though it does have come interesting looking grill things around most of the  ground.

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