Friday, 13 May 2016

Cradley Town - Beeches View




Cradley Town FC
Beeches View
Beeches View Avenue
Cradley
Halesowen
B63 2HB





Ground Number: 589
Tuesday 10th May 2016
Black Country Rangers 1-1 Cradley Town
West Midlands Regional League Premier




It might have been getting near the end of the season but there were still plenty of options for games and still plenty of life in the season despite most leagues having finished for the summer. One thing that did frustrate me though was amount of clubs being unable to raise a team. I understand that from time to time things happen but the amounts of games that are postponed as clubs treat fixtures as an option, rather than a commitment was very frustrating. I’d been hoping to visit Chatteris in Cambridgeshire A League. The ground came highly recommended by Norwegian hopper Anders but the visitors Orwell had pulled out of the game. Second choice was Black Country Rangers v Cradley Town who share a ground with the latter being the landlords but even that looked dodgy with an unseasonal bout of heavy rain forecast. At least I had plenty of backups in place should it fall, but I’d make a final decision on the day.


CRADLEY TOWN might have been tonight's 'away' team but they have been long-term residents of the ground, and indeed are landlords. They were founded in 1970 and were initially known as Albion Hayden United following a merger of 2 local teams, switching to their current name in 1975. They joined the Midland League upon formation, starting in Division 2, winning that Division in 1972. Despite this fact they were not promoted until 1979 when they joined the 1st Division. Apart from a sole relegation season in the WMRL Premier during 1983/84 they remained in Division 1 until 1991. Since then they have not looked back, gaining promotion to the WMRL Premier which despite the same sits at step 6 of the non-league pyramid. They did spend a number of seasons at step 5 as members of the Midland Alliance from 1999-2010 after finishing runners-up to Kington Town in the 98/99 season. Their best ever finish came in 2001 but generally it was tough going for them. They returned to the WMRL Premier since 2010/11, sitting in 8th at the time of the game which would represent a decent finish for them

In the FA Cup the club reached the 2nd Qualifying Round in 2008/09. After beating Heather St Johns, Ellesmere Rangers and Sutton Coldfield Town they lost 3-0 to Hucknall Town who at the time were members of the Conference North. The FA Vase has proved a lot tougher with just a couple of 2nd Round appearances in the mid 2000's. The m ost famous sporting name to have hailed from Cradley is the former Derby County player Steve Bloomer, though he never played for the club.


Tennants and tonight's home side BLACK COUNTRY RANGERS were formed in 1996. Since joining the West Midlands Regional League in 2007 they have enjoyed a rapid rise up the leagues. They won Division 2 at the 3rd attempt in 2010, winning 18 out of their 22 games. Just a single season was spent in Division 1 with them scoring 110 goals in a 30 game season as they were Champions once more. The following season they took their place at step 6 of the Non-League pyramid in the WMRL Premier. The 2011/12 season saw them miss out on a third successive league win by 3 points as they finished as runners-up to Gornal Athletic. The following season saw them finish 5th but they still managed to score over 100 goals for the 4th season in a row. Their fortunes have dipped a bit since then and they currently sit in 15th place.

In the FA Cup they just have the one victory, that came in 2013/14 as Heath Hayes were defeated 3-1 before a narrow defeat to Halesowen Town in the Preliminary Round. In the FA Vase the club reached the 1st Round this season which represents their best progress so far. Their run was ended by Coventry Sphinx who came out on top in a 6-4 goalfest. In terms of local cups they won the JW Hunt Cup twice in a row in 2012 and 2013. The club were originally based in Rowley Regis, a place that can lay claim to being the birthplace of Carlton Palmer, a top flight footballer and short lived England international under Graham Taylor in the early 1990's


On the day of the game the rain came as forecast, and as a result I was unable to take my weekly walk down town. I still needed to go down though, to pay in a cheque amongst other things , so I drove down for once. I still got soaked though and it seemed bizarre after the most welcome recent sunshine. It appeared however that the British summer lasted a weekend, normal service has been resumed and that it will rain for eternity. After coming home I spent the afternoon seeing if there was any news of any pitch inspections, but the Twitter feeds for tonight clubs were not the greatest. I also researched the best place for dinner and selected a Piri Piri place a few miles from the ground. Normally I’d research and write about the clubs history too, but having wasted hours on doing others before only for the game to be postponed, I decided against it. As I’d not bought all I’d wanted in Wycombe earlier, I decided to leave just after 3 to see if I could find a case for my camera in Aylesbury. It was an unsuccessful mission but at least I was on time to meet Anwar at 4 and soon enough we were on our way. It was slow getting out of Aylesbury and there were some delays where the M40 met the M42 but generally the traffic was kind to us. The journey was mostly spent discussing the ludicrous contract decisions made at Wycombe this week where the woefully out of form Sam Wood got a new deal and even more baffling veteran striker Paul Hayes who looks to be on his last legs got a 2 year deal. The combined age of our managers favourite strike force is nearing 70 and not one fan I have spoken to agrees with the decision to keep picking them together. The release of Max Kretchzmar was also disappointing, I felt he was our most creative midfielder, but I appreciate he may not flourish in what is a very negative style of football. I think it will come back to bite us, and that we will struggle next season. I hope I am wrong, but here it is on record in any case.


We arrived at our pre match meal place, AK Grill in Halesowen at 6pm. I'd found the place on the Just Eat takeaway site and it seemed to have a good menu. We both had a Balti with 2 rotis for a fiver which seemed good value. It was a cracking curry too, really tasty. From there it was a 15 minute drive to the ground with us getting there at 6.45. The entrance was good value at £5 although there were was no programme as Black Country Rangers don't issue. I was promised a teamsheet though by the guy who ran the Cradley Town club shop so I gave him my email. And what a shop it was, a real treasure trove full of great stuff. The programmes were 60p each so a tad too pricey to read on the bog and throw away. I did get 10 magazines for 30p each though and also 5 old pennants for £2 each with Boston United, Kettering Town, Stevenage Borough, Dover Athletic & Bristol City added to my collection. I caught up online and got some pictures of the ground while I waited for kick off. One surprise for me was that Cradley was pronounced Cray-dley and goes on the list of names that catch out those unaware along with Heather (Hee-ther) St Johns and Cogenhoe (Cook-No) amongst others.


The game started with Cradley well on top with Black Country Rangers restricted to chances on the break. Cradley  took the lead on 20 minutes when a rampaging run down the left resulted in a cross being put in and a low finish from Adam Meacham after a Rangers  defender missed a slide tackle. Black Country Rangers started the second half a lot stronger and they had a chance to equalise 10 minutes into the second half when they were awarded a penalty. It was a firm strike low to the right but the Cradley keeper made a great save to keep his teams lead in tact. A few minutes from time Rangers did get their equaliser, number 5 powering home a low strike from the edge of the area. That was how it stayed, probably a bit harsh on Cradley but it had been a contest with plenty of chances. 


We left around 9.40 and it was a decent journey home. We listened to the West Ham v Manchester United which was the last game at The Boleyn Ground which was delayed due to the visitors team coach being bottled pre game. And within a few hours so were their Champions League ambitions as West Ham gave the old place a great send off by winning 3-2. I dropped Anwar off at 11.10, getting home myself at 11.30. I watched TV for a bit, hoping to get to sleep fairly quickly as I am up at 4am and also had another game the following evening in Skegness. I was a little tired the following morning, but soon woke up, but one thing I won't miss when the season finishes is all the late nights.



BEECHES VIEW is a great ground brimming full of character as three-sided venues tend to be, at least the older ones anyway. As you come in the ground, to your left is a covered terrace with room for around 500 supporters. To your right is a smaller stand, this has a bench at the front with padded seats, around 50 can stand here along with another 200 behind. Finally at the far end is a cavernous stand with around 150 seats and plenty of terracing. I fancy this could take around 800 under cover and with all the uncovered spots, the ground could hold 3000 supporters.

The tea bar serves a decent range of your typical fare and is vert well priced. The clubhouse shows live football on big screens and has your typical range of drinks available. The real gem is the club shop. It deserves a lot more space than the fair size it has already but it has a great range of books, magazines, programmes and other various bits, along with a decent range of Cradley Town merchandise.


CLUBHOUSE



TEA BAR



CLUB SHOP

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