Sunday, 2 October 2011

Walsall - The Bescot Stadium


Walsall FC
Bescot Stadium
Bescot Crescent
Walsall
West Midlands
WS1 4SA






Ground Number: 30
Saturday 2nd May 1998
Walsall 0-1 Wycombe Wanderers
Nationwide League Division 2




TEN FACTS ABOUT WALSALL FC

1: The club was formed in 1888 when two local teams - Walsall Town and Walsall Swifts merged. They were known as Walsall Town Swifts up until 1896 when they adopted their present name.

2: They initially played at The Chuckery, moving to the West Bromwich Road sports ground in the 1890s. They only played there for a few years before moving to Fellowes Park. This was their home up until 1990, when they moved to their current home, The Bescot Stadium.

3:  Walsall have had two spells in the Football League. They were founder members of the 2nd Division in 1896, staying until 1901 when they finished in a relegation spot and were not re-elected. Their second spell started in 1921 and they have remained members ever since. Their best ever finish was 14th in the second tier in 1962.

4:  During their exile from the Football League, Walsall played in various non-league divisions, such as the Birmingham, Southern and Midland Leagues. The best position they could manage was 3rd in the Birmingham League on a couple of occasions. Despite finishing bottom of the Football League on a number of occasions in the early 1950s, they kept their league place as there was no relegation spots at that time.


5:  Their most famous win came in 1933 as they defeated Arsenal in an FA Cup 3rd Round game. They've reached the 5th Round on a few occasions, the most recent coming in 2003 as they lost out to Sheffield United.






MY PREVIOUS VISITS

My first visit was in May 1998. Wycombe were just finishing the 1997/98 season, and this was their last game. The Blues had assured safety from relegation a couple of weeks back and had recently announced Neil Smillie as permanent manager, following the departure of John Gregory to Aston Villa. The team were unbeaten in 5 games, despite not scoring many, things had been tightened up at the back. Paul Read made it 6 games unbeaten, his goal ensuring that Wycombe won 1-0 to seal all 3 points. I do remember a couple of things from that day - firstly that Walsall was the first ever club to do Balti Pies (of which I had a few) and secondly. the Wycombe fans doing the conga around the away end, to the bemusement of the home fans and the stewards.




I visited Walsall on 5 further occasions. It proved to be an unhappy hunting ground for Wycombe, with defeats on all four of the occasions that I saw them there. Particularly poor was the 5-1 defeat we suffered in 2001, having just beaten Leicester City to reach the FA Cup semi-final in recent weeks. There was an occasion that I didn't see Wycombe there - that was in 2005 when I watched them beat Yeovil Town 2-0. My mate Paul and I had been heading to Burton t watch their FA Cup game, but it was called off at midday. Not a groundhopper at the time, I stupidly chose this game over an FA Cup game at Nuneaton Borough, missing out on the chance to visit their old Manor Park ground in the process.


THE GROUND

THE BESCOT STADIUM was built around the same time as Wycombe's Adams Park ground. Originally it was a bowl like construction, with all stands the same height - 3 sides seating and 1 side terracing, when I went there in 1998. However, following their promotion to the Championship, the one remaining terraced area was made all-seater, a tier added on top and renamed the Floors-2-Go stand. It is clearly visible from the M6, meaning that the club can gain more than most at their level in sponsorship money. Overall I quite like the Bescot, it's not the most inspiring stadium, but you'll generally get a decent view and leg room.


The tea bar was pretty decent when I visited first time, although I'm not sure what it is like now. I didn't visit the bar, but I've heard it charges £2 entry. Otherwise, there is a McDonalds, a Morrisons with a cafe and a pub called King George V around 15 minutes walk from the ground

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