Saturday, 20 October 2007

Tiger Feat - Stourbridge 1 Gloucester City 1 - Carlsberg FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round - 20/10/07

If I was a loyal fan I would have been watching Tamworth take on Gainsborough, but I'm a part-timer and anyway I had a previous appointment near Merry Hill and so I found myself at half-past-two wandering the roads of the Black Country in search of a game. The first ground I passed was Dudley Sports but a quick detour and a word with the clubhouse barman told me that they were away at Shawbury so it was a toss-up between Lye and Stourbridge. I prefer to go to Lye when I can have a few beers as The Windsor Castle brew-pub is just up the road so Stourbridge it was, and a FA Trophy game against The Tigers of Gloucester City.

The War Memorial Ground is three-sided as it shares with the local cricket club, the football club don't get on with the cricket club! Stourbridge are forced to play all their pre-season friendlies and even some early season League games away from home because the cricket pitch is in use. They were also marooned for a few seasons in The Midland Alliance because they could not have hard standing down the cricket side of the pitch, this ground grading rule has been waived since the restructuring of the non-league pyramid and Stourbridge are currently in the BGB Southern League Midland & West Division.
In 1974 Stour reached the Welsh Cup Final, they are not, of course, Welsh, but in those days all you needed to do to enter the Welsh Cup was to remove some vowels and add a couple of l's, so it was as Llanstrbrdg that they lost the final to Cardiff City.

Gloucester are a division above in the BGB Premier but are struggling somewhat, which is not entirely surprising given the horrible summer they endured, the floods in the city completely overwhelmed their Meadow Park ground, there were pictures on the internet showing just top of the goalposts above water, depressing stuff. The damage was so bad that Gloucester will not move back, ever. they are hoping to build a new ground (a bit higher above sea-level I presume!) and are currently groundsharing at Forest Green Rovers.
I don't suppose having to trek to Stroud for home matches is helping their attendances but they bought a healthy following to Stourbridge, at least sixty, maybe more, they weren't particularly vocal, maybe they are just too friendly down that way? (Never used to be as I recall from Tamworth going there a couple of times back in the 90's!)

Oi, get behind the barrier woman!

The game kicked off in glorious Autumn sunshine and Gloucester immediately took the game to Stourbridge. In terms of actual league positions there isn't a lot between these sides but Gloucester looked every bit the higher division side in the first half. The trouble was, they couldn't get anything on target. Every shot flew wide, every header went high, every cross just missed the onrushing striker, the Stour keeper was simply not tested.
0-0 at half-time, but certainly not a boring 0-0.
50p for a Bovril at half-time as well, bargain!

I expected more of the same in the second half, but I was wrong, Stourbridge came out transformed. They were also managing to look more dangerous in the box than Gloucester did in the first half but they were tending to over elaborate rather than just getting shots off. I was very impressed by Stour's young midfielder Sam Rock, great name too! His pace and trickery were causing the Gloucester defence all sorts of problems, and it was he who created Stour's goal. Picking up the ball on the edge of the area he created himself a yard of space and hit a shot that was somehow kept out by a combination of goalkeeper and defender, but Mark Bellingham was on hand to stab home the rebound, just when I was thinking I was going to see my first goalless game of the season.

Gloucester finally found some urgency but beside one decent attempt from outside the area still couldn't get the ball on target, seemingly the only way they were going to score was from a penalty, and the referee duly obliged. A shot was blocked by the Stour number 4, and it did indeed hit his hand, but it was hardly deliberate as it was hit straight at him, harsh I thought. To compound his misery the ref also sent him off! Gloucester substitute Sykes rolled home the spot kick and so these two must try again on Wednesday down at Forest Green.

Decent game this, maybe a bit too much hit and hope at times but I've seen a lot worse. I can see both teams climbing their respective tables. As for The War Memorial Ground, I like the place, it will never win any awards for being picturesque but it's a proper ground. There are a high percentage of nutters (in the nicest possible way) amongst their support as well, and that is what gives non-league football it's charm!

Price: £6 Adults £2 Children
Programme: 36 pages £1.30, plenty of reading.
Attendance: 176
Tamworth Watch: 2-2 at home to Gainsborough
Crowd comment of the day: As a small gaggle of Stour fans sang "Red and white Army" one GCFC fan said "Army? More like a British Squadron after an American bombing raid!"
Temper Tantrum of the day: Gloucester's manager turning an alarming shade of purple because a throw-in went the other way! Calm down son!

1 comment:

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