Sunday 3 March 2019

Lye Town - The Sports Ground

Lye Town FC
The Sports Ground
Stourbridge Road
West Midlands

01384 422672

Ground Number: 833
Saturday 2nd March 2019
Lye Town 1-0 Ilkeston Town
Midland League Premier Division


The club was established in 1930 and for the first year of their existence were known as Lye & Wollescote. They started out in the Worcestershire Combination and were highly successful, winning it in 1936 and finishing as runners-up on three further occasions. The Second World War interrupted proceedings and when football resumed, Lye Town were placed in the Birmingham Combination, the forerunner to the modern day West Midlands (Regional) League. Despite finishing as high as 4th in 1952, they generally struggled and were relegated to the second tier four years later. The league returned to being a single tier in 1960 and was renamed in 1962. Lye Town would remain here until 2014, ending their run by winning the by then step 6 league, a feat that had also achieved in 1998. Since being promoted to the Midland League Premier Division finishes have generally been good, as high as 4th in 2017. Last season saw a loss of form and a 16th place finish and this has continued this term with Lye Town sitting 15th at the time of the game.

Lye Town have reached the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round on three occasions, the latter of which in 1989 saw them defeat Hednesford Town, local rivals Stourbridge and Desborough Town prior to a narrow 2-1 defeat to the then Conference side Stafford Rangers. IN the FA Trophy, the 3rd Qualifying Round was also their high point, going out after a replay to Enderby Town in 1975. The 1995/96 season saw them reach the FA Vase 4th Round as they beat Sandwell Borough, Blakenall, Oakham United & Chester-Le-Street Town before a 2-0 defeat at home to Barwell. Local cup wins include the Worcestershire Senior Urn (2014), Birmingham Midweek Floodlit Cup (2011 & 2013 and the Birmingham Junior Cup (1934, 1938 and 1939). The town of Lye itself is part of Stourbridge and has a population of just over 12,000 according to the latest census. Historically it was known for the manufacture of nails, anvils, vices, chain, crucibles and firebricks and is the birthplace of Sir Cedric Hardwicke who went on to star in a host of Hollywood movies.


Back in January, Chiltern Railways had a sale on train tickets and so I was able to get tickets each way from Wycombe for a fiver a pop. The only drawback was that I'd have to come home earlier than I wanted although as a trip to Birmingham was long overdue, it wasn't such a big issue. Lye Town had been on my hit list for some time now and so, I was glad when I saw, two months in advance, that they were at home. The weather might play a part though, but thankfully when I checked in the week leading up to the game, there was not too much rain. I also planned my pre-match transport, food and drink with a fair degree of precision, plus a list of backups should the worst happen. I'd seen both sides play in the past year - Lye Town as they drew a boring pre-season friendly 0-0 at Shifnal and Ilkeston as they'd drawn 1-1 at Cadbury Athletic back in May. I'd met the Notts County and Ilkeston owner Alan Hardy at the latter game and he'd seemed a decent bloke, though 2019 had not been kind to him. As well as Notts County's shocking performance on the pitch, he's also had to quit social media after accidentally posting a picture of his penis on Twitter and in the week leading up to the game his company Paragon Interiors had gone bust, with Notts County also at risk as the company had lent him £7m to buy the club.

The night before, I had a couple of ciders, but stayed sensible and was in bed by 9. I was hoping for a good nights sleep but was left disappointed as I woke up at 3. After trying and failing to get back to sleep, I went downstairs and cooked some ‘Grim Reaper’ sausages - not exactly a traditional breakfast choice, but they were good all the same. I’d decided that as I was up early, I’d walk the 4 miles to the station for exercise. I tidied up my Henley Town blog, visited 4 years ago to this day before leaving later than planned at 7.25. Having to jog part of the way as I was late, I called in at a local shop for a paper and arrived at the station with 10 minutes to spare.  My train was on time at 8:34 and I was pleased to bag a single seat with a table. It should have been a nice, simple journey but we had to stop at Banbury as some poor soul threw themselves in front of a train. I had to wait 75 minutes for the bus replacement service to arrive, but finally, I was on my way. I have every sympathy for the jumper and can’t really blame the train company, but I don’t understand why the police take so long to deal with a fairly frequent occurrence. Getting to Leamington just before 11, I had a 20-minute wait until the first train arrived. My pre-match plans gone up in smoke, I decided to knock Stourbridge and it’s two pubs and lunch on the head and instead head to Birmingham pre-match. It was New Street rather than Snow Hill that I arrived at, but I was finally there at 11.45. It was a 10-minute walk to The Post Office Vaults which didn’t disappoint. For £4 I had a pint of Troggi Tregagle Perry and it was cracking, one of the best that I’ve ever had. It was a much-needed drink and it lifted my spirits after a frustrating morning. I stuck to the same brewery for my second pint with their St Teigo proving also excellent. That wait, for now, I ventured to Poundland to get some drinks and snacks before getting the bus. Someone was smoking weed on the bus which upset the driver, so there was a delay after he stopped and sounded his emergency siren. Finally, we got to Lye at 2.30, the Windsor Castle was a nice pub with limited cider. Rather than the common Thatchers Gold, I had a pint of their Rhubarb and Ginger 'cider' which was OK, but not cider. A portion of chicken tikka and chips was enjoyed from a local pizza place, again OK but not exceptional.

Lye Town were on a run of inconsistent form, which probably explained their league position. They'd lost the last two home games by a single goal to Stourport Swifts and South Normanton Athletic but had recorded 4-1 and 6-2 wins over Highgate United and Wolverhampton Sporting Community in recent times. Ilkeston Town were more consistent with a 2-0 defeat to Quorn on February 2nd being their only loss this year. The two sides had met early season back on the 11th August, Lye recording a surprising 3-2 win thanks to a brace from Jack Till and a goal from Luke Carter as Malachi Lavelle-Moore's double was unable to prevent a defeat for the ambitious Derbyshire club. It was £7 in, above average to get in, but not unreasonable. I was expecting Ilkeston to dominate, but in reality, the first half belonged to Lye. I was especially impressed with their number 2, Joe Colley who created plenty down the right-hand side. I think it was he who provided the cross on 28 minutes, a low cross that was volleyed home at the far post by Nick Turton. Ilkeston's Elliott Reeves went into the book for a cynical tackle on 34 minutes as he took out his opponent. The visitors improved greatly improved in the second half, having made a couple of changes at the break. Elliott Reeves went close, hitting the bar with a curling shot on 64 minutes. Seven minutes later, Reece Fyfe had the ball in the net with a header from a cross, but the goal was ruled out for offside. POssibly, Ilkeston were a bit unlucky in the second half but overall, Lye defended well and deserved their win.

The game finished pretty promptly. Despite chasing the 4.56 bus down the dual carriageway, I failed to catch it, having to wait until 5.12. Wycombe had crashed to another defeat, 4-2 at Peterborough, but it had been a good day. I wanted to get back to the Post Office Vaults, knowing already what I was going to order. I had a pint of Three Saints Scrumptious and a half of Beardspoon Ciderfect, thinking that I was on course for my train home. Sadly my lack of research meant that I arrived at the station well on time, but it was the wrong station as my arrival station was different to my departure one. I could have had an extra hour in the pub, or actually made my intended train. Not a problem unless there was a ‘Blakey’ type ticket inspector, so I spent my journey home on high alert. Luckily I got back to Wycombe without any issues, my ticket checked but there was no problem. I was back at Wycombe at 9.15 and after walking to Lidl to get some cans and chicken, I got the 9.55 back to Hazlemere Crossroads, a mile from home. I was back through the door at 10.30 and had a can whilst watching Match Of The Day. It had been a good day, drinking and football-wise, but a poor one on the travel and food front. I got to sleep just after midnight and so was tired when I woke at 4 am the next morning.


The SPORTS GROUND is a nice and traditional venue. There are two covered areas - the main stand that is a combination of seating and standing and then a covered barrel roof terrace behind one goal. Overall, there's covered seating for 500 and covered seating for 600. In addition, 3 sides of the ground are hard standing, with one side being where cricket is played. The bar and the tea bar at the ground are OK and they do the job at reasonable prices. Further, afield, the town is a few minutes walk away. The Windsor Castle was a nice pub, but limited on the cider front. Olympia Pizza was a fairly average takeaway and with a few competitors, I'd recommend eating somewhere else or at the ground.  

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