Sunday 11 August 2019

Bolehall Swifts - Rene Road

Bolehall Swifts FC
Rene Road
B77 3NN

Ground Number: 871
Saturday 10th August 2019
Bolehall Swifts 0-4 Moor Green Academy
Midland League D2


The club was established in 1953 and spent its early years in local competitions such as the Tamworth & Trent Valley League. in 1980, they joined the Midland Combination, starting in Division 3. This was soon renamed Division 2 and by 1985 they were champions. A fifth place in their debut season was good enough for promotion to the Premier Division, which is the equivalent to step 6 in modern terms. Aside from a two-year spell in the Midland Alliance in the mid-'90s (where Bolehall struggled), the club remained there until 2014 when the league merged with the Midland Alliance to form the Midland League. Finishes in the Midland Combination Premier ranged from 3rd in 1998 to 19th in 2002. The first season in Midland League D1 produced a decent 4th place finish, but results soon declined. They finished second bottom in 2018, meaning relegation to Division 2. The form didn't improve last season, another second-bottom finish, but they avoided relegation on that occasion.

Bolehall Swifts have got as far as the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Cup twice - losing tp Solhihill Borough in 1994 and local rivals Tamworth the following year. In the FA Vase, a couple of good runs to the 3rd Round were enjoyed in the mid-2010s with defeats to St Andrews in 2014 and Brocton the following year. Local cup wins include the Walsall Senior Cup (2002), the Coleshill Charity Cup (1956), the Fazeley Charity Cup (1976, 1985 & 2015) and the Birmingham Midweek Floodlit Cup (2014). Bolehall is a suburb of Tamworth, a Staffordshire town which has a population of around 75,000. Famous people from Tamworth include Robert Peel, founder of the modern-day police force, as well as footballers Tony Coton & Mark Albrighton.


Back when the FA announced the round dates for the FA Cup dates, I was hoping that a few of the FA Cup Preliminary Rounds and Qualifying Rounds would be free of Wycombe home games so that I could have free choices of games to go to in my favourite competition. But like with the dates of the organised groundhops, I had stinking luck with them all having home games on. That was apart from the Extra Preliminary Round and after extensive research, decided upon Malvern Town v Whitchurch Alport, a decent looking tie at a ground I wanted to visit for a while. I pre-booked the High Wycombe to Birmingham portion of my train tickets as it saved me £11 if I nominated trains to take and would have been even less had I taken an earlier train, but it made things too tight for time. I held off booking the train to Malvern, what with them ignoring my tweet I sent them to confirm that the game would be on Saturday. It was a good job that I didn't, as a week later, the game was moved to Westfields due to works at their own ground. So, therefore, an alternative was needed. I'd have loved to stick to the FA Cup, but games at Leicester Nirvana, Hanley Town & Haughmond were fairly unattractive ties and would have cost a lot in money and time. Luckily, there were plenty of options in the lower tiers of the Midland League, so I'd not have a wasted journey. Bolehall Swifts was in Tamworth and was a ground that I'd fancied visiting for a while, mainly due to the ludicrous selection of decent pubs for a place of its size. The club itself had fallen on hard times recently, finishing second bottom of step 7 Midland Division 2 last season. The only negative point was the train ticket prices - nearly £9 return for a 15-minute journey. Far from the worst offender, but pricey all the same. But as it stood out from the other options, I decided to stick with it.

I had around six hours sleep the night before, waking when my alarm went off at 7. I left later than intended, so had to get the bus into town. I was surprised when it cost £4.60 - the same as the travel card that got me to Reading and Maidenhead recently. I got to town with 40 minutes to spare, but barely anything was open, so after a stroll around I went to the station to wait there. My train was spot on, arriving at 8.34 and it was a fairly relaxed journey up to Birmingham. I was greeted by grey skies and drizzle when I arrived around 10. With an hour to kill, I had a look around the market and shops, getting a huge portion of salt and pepper chips from a place called ‘Lei’s Cuisine’ in the Bullring indoor market. It was a sit-down place too but after a little stroll, it was time for the first drink of the day. The Post Office Vaults is a place I visit whenever I’m up here and a pint of Butford Organics Draught hit the spot. The only annoyance was the iffy WiFi and phone signal, seeing as it is in a basement. It was a short walk to New Street Station and £8.60 for a return to Tamworth on a smelly, cramped Cross Country train. Fifteen minutes later I was in the town which had a great selection of pubs. The Kings Ditch Micropub was my hostelry of choice and it didn’t disappoint, with a huge selection of cider. I was on the halves and so sampled Dee Cider Medium, Three Cats Dry and finally Parsons Choice Medium Dry. The owner said that the latter was a rare one and indeed, I’d not yet sampled it. It was a pleasant walk along the river to Bolehall and so I got to the ground with 40 minutes until kick-off.

A friendly welcome was offered, £3 was a reasonable entry fee too and most welcome on a day where my transport costs were above average. After getting some pictures of the ground, I headed to the tea bar, getting a portion of chips for £1.50. The man serving was happy with the level of custom, saying that they only usually take £5 or £6 on a matchday and had made many times that today. The attendance was officially counted as 51 although my headcount was 55. A decent crowd for the level, but on the pitch, it didn't go so well for Bolehall Swifts on the pitch. Moor Green took the lead on 7 minutes. Good work down the right by Stanley Annaebonan set up Arman Khooshkoo to tap home from 6 yards out. The lead was doubled on 39 minutes, a cross from Gerrard Sam was put in from the left and Ryan Andrews headed home. The visitors were in full control as the game approached half time, but Bolehall had defended well. The same could be said of the second half, but Moor Green didn't score again until a couple of minutes from time. A good ball forward found substitute Costas Lautuaru who rounded the Swifts keeper and slotted into an empty net. The scoring was completed in the last minute when another substitute Stuart Gjeta finished from close range. Moor Green fully deserved their win, but it looks to be a long season for Bolehall Swifts, who did at least have a very nice shirt. That said, their management team disagreed with my assessment, saying that Moor Green have a lot more training sessions under their belt, but I certainly wish both teams luck for the season.

For Moor Green's view of the action, you can read their match report HERE

So after the game, it was time to head home. But not before a final half of Mr Whiteheads Devils Device at the Kings Ditch. I was well on time for my 18:01 train to Birmingham, but it was delayed, as was the 17:35. Horrendous given the price charged, but hey ho, gotta live with it. The train finally turned up 20 minutes late, ambling its way through the Midlands and taking twice the time it should have. I was glad I’d booked the later train, as I was too late for my connection. With around 50 minutes to kill, my destination was inevitable. The Post Office Vaults was brilliant once more and after a pint of Brecon Beacon Derw and a half of Greyfields No. 2, I played it safe and headed for the station. Even with a stop for food, I was at Moor Street 20 minutes before my train was due to depart. That turned up bang on time and the journey home was a pleasant one, with me getting back to Wycombe at 9.10. With around 45 minutes until the bus, I decided to walk home, getting in at 10:15, just in time for Match Of The Day.


RENE ROAD is a decent venue, fit for step 5. There’s plenty of covered standing, a small stand with over 100 capacity. There’s also a newer seated stand behind one goal,this holds around 150. There’s a reasonable tea bar inside and a bar outside too, as well as local amenities. Further afield, the town of Tamworth is just over a mile away and has a whole load of pubs, including the brilliant Kings Ditch Micropub.

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