Thursday, 16 September 2021

Heath Hayes - Coppice Colliery Ground

Heath Hayes FC
Coppice Colliery Ground
Newlands Lane
Heath Hayes

Ground Number: 996
Tuesday 14th September 2021
Heath Hayes 1-1 Wednesfield
Midland League D1


The club was established in 1965 as a breakaway club from a local youth side. They played in local Cannock leagues at first, progressing to the Mid Staffordshire and Staffordshire County (South) leagues. They joined the Staffordshire Senior League in 1989 and started off with a run of unspectacular finishes. The league was renamed the Midland League in 1994 but this has no connection to the modern-day league of the same name. They joined the West Midlands (Regional) League in 1996 and were far more successful here, being crowned Division 1 champions in 1998. Following promotion to the Premier Division, their best finishes here were 6th in 2004 and 2005. They joined the Midland Combination following this, winning its Premier Division in 2010. The Midland Alliance was their next home and they spent a number of mediocre seasons here before the league was absorbed into the Midland League. Heath Hayes were placed in the Premier Division but finished bottom in their only season here. They were relegated to Division 1 where they remain to this day. Their best finish was 8th in their debut season. 

Heath Hayes have not had a great deal of success in the FA Cup - in nine campaigns, they have reached the Preliminary Round three times. They've performed better in the FA Vase, reaching the third round in 2007/08 and 2010/11. In local cups, honours include the Staffordshire League Premier Trophy in 1987 and the Staffordshire Senior Trophy on three occasions. The large village of Heath Hayes is located near Cannock and Hednesford. It has a population of just over 14,000 and is often twinned with nearby Wimblebury. 


The destination of tonight's game was decided last Thursday after consultation with fellow hopper Anwar. Unlike last Tuesday, the options were not so abundant and so we were limited to two choices within a reasonable budget. These were Ledbury Town & Wisbech Town and Anwar expressed a preference for the latter. I was happy with this but didn't start researching the club history until the day of the game. It was my day off and so I didn't get up until just before 9. I had a shower and got dressed but couldn't go for my usual walk as it was raining all day. The weather looked slightly better in Wisbech with both sides seeming confident that the game would go ahead. Even so, I looked at backups. The weather seemed a lot better near Ledbury so I could go there if an early decision was made. The morning was spent researching the club's history which took longer than expected. I also researched Wakefield FC's history ahead of my visit there tomorrow. A pitch inspection was arranged for 4 PM so I arranged to meet Anwar at 4.15 to give enough time for a decision to be made, Typically, the rain was incessant in Wisbech, so I put in place possible backups at Arnold Town, Heath Hayes, Ledbury Town, Whitton United and Wolves Casuals. The game was, as expected, off when I eventually got to Anwar at 4.25, having had to stop to get petrol. We'd decided on Heath Hayes for our replacement game as the weather looked better that way. Though it was 20 miles further than the other option at Ledbury Town, the journey was a lot quicker and had more backup options. It was a decent journey overall with delays getting onto the M5 and around West Bromwich but otherwise good. We were at our hastily arranged food stop at Pizza Pan in Hednesford at 6.45. I ordered a Kirby Burger and chips for £7. It was pretty nice and I enjoyed it, even though I've had better value elsewhere. It wasn't good enough to escape being recorded under my football expenses though - that only happens when I try something new or exceptional.

It was then a 10-minute drive to the ground with us getting there at 7.20 and paying £5 to get in. Heath Hayes were in mixed form. In their last five, they'd beaten Ashby Ivanhoe 4-3 and won 2-1 at AFC Bridgnorth. But they'd lost 1-0 to both Atherstone Town and Chelmsley Town as well as drawing 1-1 at Nuneaton Griff. They were just above Wednesfield in the league. The visitors had been in slightly poorer form during the same period. Despite winning 3-2 at OJM Black Country, they'd lost 2-1 to Cradley Town, 4-1 at Stapenhill and 2-0 to Bilston Town Community. They'd also drawn 1-1 with Wolverhampton Sporting Community. Wednesfield dominated the early stages and should have gone ahead on 9 minutes. A ball was put in but the striker missed when it looked easier to score. They also shot narrowly over on 15 minutes as well as having an effort disallowed for a foul and a shot hacked off the line. Heath Hayes had the occasional moment, generally playing on the break though and coming closest when a free-kick was fired over from just outside the area. The second half started with Wednesfield on top and they had a couple of penalty claims early on. Heath Hayes improved though and they took the lead on 68 minutes when a corner was headed home at the near post by Jay Brown. This saw them have a dominant spell and it took a good save from the Wednesfield keeper to tip a 20 yard shot around the post. Wednesfield had a late rally, coming close with a couple of chances. They equalised right at the death, scoring on the break with a well-worked move and a good low finish from just inside the area by Ben Novis. A fair amount of injury time was played and only a great save from the Heath Hayes keeper prevented the visitors from getting a late winner. No official attendance had been announced when typing this, but I'd estimate around 60.

We left around 9.45. Waze helped greatly getting around the roadworks on the M6 and so we took a back route down to the M42. As ever, we listened to Andy Crane on Greatest Hits Radio on the way back and I got the 'guess the year' correct of 1974. It was mainly due to me remembering watching a programme about the German World Cup of that year and recognising the songs they used. I dropped Anwar off at 11.35, getting home myself at MIdnight. Usually, I'd stay up and wind down but with the broadband down for some reason, I went to bed pretty quickly. It took me a while to get to sleep though, but even so, I felt pretty fresh the next morning. Looking at the games I'd passed up to watch this, Ledbury Town had a thumping 8-0 win over Welland, Holbrook St Michaels triumphed 2-1 at Arnold Town, Whitton United lost 4-0 to Norwich United and Wolverhampton Casuals beat Whitchurch Alport 4-2.


THE COPPICE COLLIERY GROUND is a nice place to watch football. All the covered accommodation is on one side as you come in. There are three stands, seating around 200 with another 100 standing. Two other sides are hard standing with the far end officially out of bounds. The ground is surrounded by greenery on two sides and houses on the other two. There is a tea bar serving hot dogs, sausage rolls and drinks whilst the bar serves a selection of cans. There is a large car park at the ground. Nearby is Heath Hayes centre with a range of takeaways and pubs. 

I'd previously visited the ground on Saturday 20th October 2012, prior to Wycombe getting thumped 4-1 at Port Vale. I wish I'd been into groundhopping back then, although I started a year later. From the 11.50 picture taken time and people being in the ground, I assume that there must have been a Midland U21 League game going on, although I can't confirm that fact.

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