Stone Old Alleynians FCKings ParkHilderstone RoadMeir HeathStoke-On-TrentStaffordshireST3 7NT
Ground Number: 1032
Tuesday 22nd March 2022
Stone Old Alleynians 2-2 Shifnal Town
Tuesday 22nd March 2022
Stone Old Alleynians 2-2 Shifnal Town
STONE OLD ALLEYNIANS FC - A BRIEF HISTORY
The club was established in 1962 by pupils of the Alleyne's Grammar School in Stone. They started in Division 4 of the Staffordshire Amateur League, winning promotion to Division 3 in 1964. They won promotion from Division 3 a couple of years later and were Division 2 champions in 1966. They would then go on to win Division 1, becoming overall league champions in 1972, 1975 & 1979. They'd then move on to the Staffordshire Alliance where they were Division runners-up in 1988, earning promotion to the Premier Division. From 1992 until 2007, they were members of the Staffordshire Senior League, before moving to the West Midlands (Regional) League. Starting in Division 2, a 4th place finish in 2010 was good enough for promotion to Division 1. In 2015, Stone Old Alleynians finished as runners-up to Bromyard Town, winning promotion to the Premier Division in the process. After three seasons of mid-table finishes, the club transferred to the North West Counties Division 1 South in 2018. They finished 3rd in their first season, narrowly missing out on a promotion spot. Their results over the next two abandoned seasons were deemed good enough to earn them promotion and a sideways transfer to the Midland Premier for this season.
Above: Wellbeing Park, the former home of Stone Old Alleynians, Stone Dominoes and Stafford Rangers U21. Pictured around 2006.
This season saw the club's best-ever FA Cup run. They won 4-0 at Racing Club Warwick, beat Rugby Town 1-0 and won 1-0 at won 1-0 at Anstey Nomads before a 3-1 defeat at Conference North side Leamington in the 2nd Qualifying Round. Their best progress in the FA Vase came last season as they Dudley Town and AFC Mansfield before a defeat to Long Eaton United in the 2nd Round. Local cup wins include the Stone Charity Cup in 1969, 1974 and 1975. Whilst members of the Staffordshire Amateur League (later called the Mid Staffordshire League) they won the Borough Cup in 1979, the Division 2 Cup in 1984 and the Pageant Cup in 1975 and 1976. The club is from Stone, which has a population of around 16,000. The most famous person to come from Stone is Stan Collymore, the former footballer and current media pundit. He is currently working in an advisory role at Southend United. Having played at Wellbeing Park (for a time, sharing with the now-defunct Stone Dominoes) in Yarnfield, they moved to Kings Park in the village of Meir Heath at the start of this season. This was the home of Meir KA (named after the local Kings Arms pub) from 1993 until 2010 when the club dissolved. There was a Sunday League side of the same name who played in the Potteries and District League up until a year or so ago.
This would be my third attempt at visiting Stone Old Alleynians. The first attempt had been on the 11th of January, however, the game was postponed due to the weather. Their pitch does not have the best reputation for coping with wet weather, but even I was surprised it was called off as the forecast hadn't been that bad but in any case, I had a ready-prepared backup in Irlam. The second attempt came around a month later, having agreed on a visit with fellow hopper Anwar. However, that time I was thwarted by car issues when a warning light came on. Thankfully this was all sorted now and I agreed with him on Monday morning that we should attempt it again. It looked like a really nice ground and I was glad to be using some of the work that I'd put into researching the club history for my original blog entry.
The Scottish Hop had been excellent, but unhealthy with lots of booze and food. For that reason, I was glad to be giving my liver a rest for four days. It had ended on a bit of a sour note with a big row on Twitter over a flag, which is as barmy as it sounds. Some hoppers took it upon themselves to complain to the hop organiser about a flag ruining their photos, for what reason, I don't know. I know Chris is affectionately known as Lord Groundhop but he's only responsible for the coach, hotel and tickets. Not other hoppers, the weather, the games or the catering etc. If they had an issue, surely they should take it up with Dan, the person responsible for the flag. It had not been up on this hop anyway as last time it went to Scotland it got taken hostage by some locals, but following an abrupt word from Chris, Dan jokingly waved it at the hoppers coach as it was leaving the final game. It all led to 24 hours of harsh words being exchanged although it eventually calmed down. I like both parties and really appreciate the hard work that does into organising these events. For me, the blame lies squarely with the people that went moaning to Chris about the flag rather than confronting the so-called 'culprit'. Most hoppers are great, but the whole incident reminded me of why I have such disdain for the general public.
The day of the game came and it was a real scorcher, at least in comparison to what had gone before it. Seemingly, winter and the ritual of having to choose your game carefully due to the weather had dragged on for ages. I walked down around and back from town, covering 9.5 miles in all. A lot of the work was undone by me treating myself to a posh brownie off of Wycombe market but it was my week off after all. I had just under two hours at home before leaving at 3.20. I got petrol on the way before meeting Anwar at 4. The journey up was reasonable, with a few delays but we were in Meir Heath by 6.50, going to a place called Hamza's. I opted for a Keema Chat sandwich and chips. It was delicious and great value for £6 and something I'd not had before. It was five minutes to ground and we were there half an hour before kick-off. Shifnal had bought a team coach along with them and some fans with a plag. Entry was £5 and a decent programme £1. There were plenty of hoppers in attendance and we had good chats with a Scarborough fan and Kiz who was a Nuneaton fan.
Stone Old Alleynians were in mixed form. They'd lost their latest game 2-0 to AFC Wulfrunians and lost 3-0 to Boldmere St Michaels following a 0-0 draw with the same opposition. However, prior to that, they had won seven games in a row, incuding dumping higher-level sides Kidsgrove Athletic and Hednesford Town out of the Staffordshire Senior Cup. Shifnal Town were also inconsistent, having drawn 1-1 in their latest game at Uttoxeter Town on Saturday. They'd beaten Hanley Town 1-0 and won 2-1 at Lichfield City but had lost 2-0 to Racing Club Warwick, 2-1 to Boldmere St Michaels and 2-0 at AFC Wulfrunians. Stone started brightly, but within two minutes the visitors were ahead. Andre Brown was given too much space and was allowed to fire home a diagonal shot from ten yards following an attack down the left. It was a great goal that gave the hosts their equaliser, a ball was played across the edge of the box and Jack Bowater fired into the top corner with a shot on the turn. On 16 minutes, the visitors had a header disallowed for a foul on the keeper which seemed a bit harsh. They paid for it, thanks to a mistake on 21 minutes from their own keeper Andy Wycherley. He miskicked the ball in the first place and when he had a second bite at the cherry he was deceived by the bounce of the ball. Jack Tomlinson was the one to profit, lobbing home from 25 yards to make it 2-1 to Stone. Shifnal came close to equalising on the half-hour, lobbing just over the bar. The hosts deserved their lead at the break and although the second half was not as lively, the visitors were the better side. Brown equalised on 50 minutes with his second goal, a low shot from close range but neither side could find a winner from there.
It had been a decent game in good company. No official attendance was given, but it looked around 80. We got away fairly quickly and waited for news to come through about Wycombe's game in the Berks & Bucks Cup. They were playing over at Ascot United and the game attracted a crowd of 1,267. A team of fringe players and trialists laboured to a 0-0 draw before going out on penalties. On the balance of play, it looked like a fair result. We listen to our usual show on Greatest Hits Radio and I dropped Anwar off around midnight. I was home myself 25 minutes later and with no work in the morning typed my blog whilst watching YouTube.
KINGS PARK is a good venue for the level and would more than likely be suitable for the league above. There's a stand behind the goal which stretches the whole width of the pitch and holds around 200. There's further covered standing for around 100 along the side whilst the rest of the ground is open. There's a decent amount of parking. Food and drink are available in the bar but I sampled neither. There's a Chinese takeaway nearby but a better selection can be had a couple of miles away in Meir Heath.