Wednesday 21 September 2022

Worcester City - Claines Lane

Worcester City FC
Claines Lane

01905 23003

Ground Number: 1112
Tuesday 20th September 2022
Worcester City 0-1 Stourport Swifts
Midland Premier


The club was established in 1902 and resulted from a merger of two local clubs - Worcester Rovers and Berwick Rangers. They were long-time members of the Birmingham & District League, winning it four times and finishing as runners-up three times. Worcester City enjoyed a brief couple of seasons in the Southern League in the late 30s and would join full-time after World War 2. A runners-up spot in the Western section in 1940 was their best finish until the league introduced a second tier in 1959. The club was admitted to the Premier Division, and was relegated to Division 1 in 1967 but would bounce back winning the title in their debut season. Another three-season spell in Division 1 between 1974 and 1977. Things started to look up in 1979, two years after winning Division 1 again, they were Premier Division champions. They were invited to join the newly established Alliance League, later the Conference and currently the National League. Worcester City would stay until 1985, their best finish being 3rd in their debut season. Relegated to the Southern League, the club would remain in the Premier Division until 2004 when they became founder members of the Conference North. Two 7th placed finishes were their best finish here. Financial issues dogged the club following the sale of their ground in 2013, with promises of a super new stadium unfulfilled. They would be exiled until 2020, sharing at Bromsgrove Rovers and Kidderminster Harriers. Worcester resigned from National League North towards the end of the 2016–17 season but finished in one of the relegation places anyway. The FA then decided the club would be further relegated to the Midland League to ease the club's financial situation, That is where they remain to this day, a couple of 4th place finishes the best they could manage.

The club has had a number of notable FA Cup runs. Their best and most famous came during the 1958/59 season when they beat Brierley Hill Alliance and Chelmsford City to reach the 2nd Round. Here they faced league side Millwall, remarkably beating them 5-2. An even more remarkable result followed in the 3rd Round as they beat giants Liverpool 2-1. Their run came to an end in the 4th Round with a 2-0 defeat to Sheffield United. Other notable runs include the Welsh Cup semi-final in 1979 where they lost 2-1 to Shrewsbury Town. The club also has three FA Trophy Quarter Finals to their name. In the FA Vase, they reached the 5th Round in 2020, only to lose 5-4 on penalties to Atherstone after a replay.

In terms of local competitions, Worcester City won the Southern League Cup in 1940 & 2001, the Staffordshire Senior Cup in 1977 and the Worcestershire Senior Cup 28 times. Records include a 19-1 win against Alvechurch in 1931, an attendance of 17,042 for an FA Cup game against Sheffield United in 1959 and an incoming fee of £27,500 when they sold John Barton to Everton in 1979. Barton went on to play 89 games in the Football League before coming back to manage the side between 1999 & 2005. Other famous names in the dugout include Graham Allner who made his name at Kidderminster Harriers and Hereford United's FA Cup hero Ronnie Radford.


For once on this Tuesday, I would be able to take both Anwar and Colin to a game, owing to the latter finishing work early for once. It meant we could go further than usual and also reduce costs for everyone. Even so, there wasn't a huge amount of choice, but eventually, we agreed on Worcester City v Stourport Swifts. I was coming to the end of my time off work and Monday was of course, the Queen's Funeral. It was absolutely everywhere, with several broadcasters putting it on every single one of their channels. Channel 5 bucked the trend by showing the Emoji movie, but that didn't interest me either. I did at least have plenty to catch up with, researching this blog and making future plans. This included an upcoming trip to the Netherlands during my next bit of time off in October. This was mainly due to the utter waste of space that is Sunday in this country, especially with regard to football fixtures.

The trip to Worcester was not as simple as I'd hoped with the parking costing £2 and being a ten-minute walk from the ground unless you wanted to pay a fiver to park at the ground. Also, they recommended getting your tickets beforehand, due to limited capacity. However, with space for a thousand and average crowds of 350, I wasn't panicked into doing so. All in all, not what I'm used to for non-league, although it's not really the clubs' fault. They must be happy just to be back home, albeit at a lesser stadium and level than they would like. Not far from them, another local club, Worcester Raiders might be left homeless, owing to financial issues at their landlords, Worcester Warriors Rugby Club. This does not appear to have affected them too badly though as they are sitting 5th in the Hellenic Premier. A bizarre quirk of the geography of the leagues as the two clubs, just three miles apart, play in separate leagues.
The day of the game came and it was my last day off before my return to work on Wednesday. I was quite busy, having a preliminary video interview about a new job and also waiting for a TV repairman. Once everything was done, I walked to town and back, covering around 9 miles in all. A couple of things off of the Lidl bakery and some grapes provided lunch for £2. I also got some other stuff I needed and was back home at 3, having just under an hour before it was time to leave for the game. I left at 3.50 but the journey over to Colin was atrocious. It usually takes little over ten minutes but today it took 35 minutes due to a tanker parking at the side of some mini roundabouts and holding everyone up. It had a knock-on effect with us not getting to Anwar until 4.55. It was then predictably busy on the way to Worcester, with us not getting there until 7. Our takeaway of Luigi's was 20 minutes walk away from the ground so I decided to leave the car there. My 12-inch Mexican pizza was nice for £7.49 and we eat on the way to the ground. As it turned out, there was plenty of street parking nearer the ground but what's done was done. Entry was £8 and I'd already got my ticket online which I showed at the turnstile.
 Worcester City were struggling this season, sitting in 18th place. They finally got their first win of the season beating Whitchurch Alport 2-0. They'd also drawn 0-0 at Alvechurch. They'd lost 3-0 to Bewdley Town, 4-1 at AFC Wulfrunians and 2-0 at Walsall Wood. Stourport Swifts were in 7th and had been in good form, winning 4-1 at Market Drayton Town, 2-1 against Studley and 2-1 against Wolverhampton Casuals in their last three, having been unbeaten for five games.  The first half was very scrappy and wayward but Stourport edged proceedings. Worcester City had the better of the second half but the game was very poor and it looked as if it was heading to a dull goalless draw. The visitors had other ideas however. On the break, a deep cross was rifled home into the roof of the net for what looked to be an 86th minute winner.
 There was a good crowd in attendance, 421 turning up. Though the ground was good for the level, it was cramped in places and such a well-supported team could have done with more space. We had a 20-minute walk back to the car and then I needed to get petrol to get home. This was done at a local Texaco, a few pence more than my last fill-up, but nice and convenient. We left just after 10, taking a far more pleasant but longer route home via the M5, M42 and M40. I dropped Anwar off at 11.50, Colin off at 12.20 and got home myself ten minutes later. I didn't stay up for long, but was still slow getting started in the morning and with the roads being bad, I was a few minutes late for work. It was a fairly standard day and I'm already looking forward to my next bit of time off. Next up for me are revisits to Holmer Green on Thursday and Hanworth Villa on Friday.


CLAINES LANE is a small but pleasant and well-kept venue. There are two seated stands, of the metal type but quite different. Seating around 200, these are the only cover. The rest of the ground is pleasant with plenty of trees and greenery. Around one quarter is closed to fans. The bar appeared to be restricted to bottles but the food looked good. There was plenty of parking in the streets around the ground, but the club discourage you from using these.

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