Ground Number: 1241
Saturday 4th November 2023
Sutton United 2-4 Shawbury United
SUTTON UNITED FC - A BRIEF HISTORY
Sutton United was formed in 1947 by three men, Frank White, Ken Smith and Bill Walker, who had met whilst on service for the Royal Air Force. The club initially competed in the Birmingham and District League, winning the Premier Division on seven occasions. This league is off-pyramid but after winning the Premier Division three times in succession, Sutton United joined the Midland Combination Division 2 in 2012 which sits at step 8 of the non-league pyramid. They finished as runners-up behind Barnt Green Spartak in their first season, earning promotion to Division 1. This became Division 2 of the Midland League in 2014 and the team were always around the top of the table. Despite this, they resigned in 2017 and went back to the Birmingham & District League. They hardly pulled up any trees but despite this, they rejoined the Midland League in 2019. Starting in Division 3, their performance over the two pandemic-interrupted seasons was excellent. However, they would have to wait until 2022 when they finished as runners-up behind AFC Coventry Rangers for promotion. Last season saw them win the Division 2 title and promotion to Division 1 and semi-professional football.
Upon formation, Sutton United played at Cows Lane, Wylde Green, before the club moved to Penns Lane, Sutton Coldfield and then to Rectory Park. In 1997, the club moved into Hollyfield Road, buying the site from Sutton Coldfield RFC. In 2016, Sutton United acquired its current facilities at Coleshill Road. In 2022 these were upgraded to a 3G pitch with stands and floodlights, allowing for future promotion. Local cup wins include the Birmingham & District League Senior Cup in 1975. The club is based in Sutton Coldfield, a town 8 miles northeast of Birmingham with a population of 110,000. The most prominent team in the town are Sutton Coldfield Town who play in the Northern League Division 1 Midlands, a couple of steps higher than Sutton United. Paget Rangers, fellow Midland Division 1 side also lodge at Coles Lane. The town is a popular home for footballers, players who have lived in the town include Jim Barron, Barry Bannan, Slaven Bilic, Louie Barry, Rory Delap, Mark Kinsella, Paul Merson, Charles N'Zogbia, Martin O'Neill and Darius Vassell. Other notable residents include James Bond actor Roger Moore and former Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis.
When I looked at options for games on Monday, it looked as if bad weather would rear its ugly head again. Despite the pre-match not being that exciting in terms of pubs, Eastbourne United v Crawley Down Gatwick was my first choice but the conditions looked to be especially dreadful there. My first choice on 3G was Newark Town but though the coach fare was good value, the Nottingham to Newark train was just over £15. With the round trip at 40 miles, it wasn't the greatest value. In any case, with dwindling options for driving midweek with both Colin & Anwar, I decided to save it for then. All in all, I decided to bide my time and wait until nearer the time. This research was conducted on Thursday night and it was decided that I would go to Sutton United v Shawbury Town. Once I'd factored in that it would be cheaper to get the train than the bus to Sutton Coldfield, it worked out at £30.90 or 6p a mile. This was only beaten by Borden Village against Welling Town and this was on a grass pitch. With the weather not being the best, I'd decided to play it safe with a 3G option, especially with not as many backups. A good day would be had in Birmingham, it had been a few years since I had visited the 'second city'. I was looking forward to revisiting an excellent pub called The Post Office Vaults, even though the cider selection had decreased since the glory days of around three years ago.
As usual, cost played a big factor, as did the pitch being 3G. They ranged from 14p a mile for a trip to Borden Village in Kent to a frankly scandalous 33p a mile for Newark Town. Driving usually costs me just over 21p a mile all-in, so to charge any more than that is ludicrous. I'd had a decent trip back from Ringmer on Friday night and was back home by 11.30. By the time I'd got my blog up and watched TV, it was around 1 before I got to sleep. I awoke 20 minutes before my 7.20 alarm on Saturday and listened to the typical sound of rain outside. I was up and dressed quick enough, by the time I'd had breakfast it was just after 8 before I left. My Poundland Umbrella proved its worth but thankfully it soon reduced to just drizzle. The standard stop at Tesco allowed me to get a meal deal of Hoi Sin Duck wrap, Tony's Chocolonely bar and Ribena Light. I also got some pigs in Blankets crisps. I ordered my train ticket on the Trainpal app, and happily, they were barcode tickets to save wasting time collecting paper ones. The train ticket to Sutton Coldfield was the same price as to Birmingham and with a £1 voucher, it came in at under £30, an even better deal than before.
It was then the rest of the walk to High Wycombe station with me getting there five minutes before my train. The 09:28 to Birmingham was a few minutes early and I was able to get a double seat to myself. It made a change to the cattle-like conditions that exist on the way to London. The only downside was the lack of USB sockets although I had my power bank. The journey was productive as I researched everything for this blog, having been quite busy this week with other stuff. With the FA Cup today, I wondered if there would ever be a time when Sutton United would ever face their more famous Surrey counterparts, it would certainly provide an interesting conundrum for the commentators. With this game today and hopefully Stapenhill on Tuesday, it would leave just today's visitors Shawbury to complete the Midland League Division 1.
I was at Birmingham Moor Street by 11.10. The Post Office Vaults was not open yet and so it would have to be Wetherspoons. I decided to save the London and North Western until later as it was in New Street Station. Instead, the nearby Briar Rose suited. It was very busy but service was decent. A pint of Strongbow was consumed for £3.49. It was then a walk to the Post Office Vaults. I arrived a few minutes before opening but at nearly 12.10, the doors were still locked. I decided to cut my losses and try again later. Post match plans became pre match and I went to The London and North Western for a pint of Strongbow. One pint of Strongbow became two as I met up with fellow Wycombe fan Paul. He was up with wife and fellow Chairboys fans fan Sue and they were just having a day out. The pub was full of happy Ipswich Town fans. And why not, their team had been flying since promotion from League 1 last season and a fairly innofensive club. Paul & Sue were heading home so I got my train to Sutton Coldfield. My battery on my laptop was knackered and I wish I'd brought my power cable. I was in Sutton Coldfield at 1.40 and it was a ten-minute walk to the pub. I ordered steak, chicken wings and a Strongbow.
Sutton United were in 8th, whilst Shawbury United were in 15th. It was one of the longer trips of the season for the nomadic visitors who were based over 50 miles away in Shrewsbury. In the league, Sutton United were unbeaten in five, their last defeat coming on 16th September as they lost 3-2. These results included a 4-3 win over Coton Green and a credible 2-2 draw at Hinckley. Shawbury's results were more missed, their last game was an entertaining 5-3 loss against Stapenhill and they'd also won 5-1 st Smethwick Rangers. With a single goal between my last two games, I was hoping for a goal-fest today. Coleshill started brightly and they headed home from a right-sided corner after a few minutes. Shawbury were not beaten and Reece Jacobs fired home from the edge of the area on nine minutes. Jack Howse lobbed a shot home to see Shawbury lead 2-1 on 13 minutes and it was certainly an interesting game. The visitors rarely looked troubled during the first half and coasted to a half-time lead. They even made it 3-1, a right-sided ball headed home by David Howells. Presumably not the former Spurs man unless he came in a time machine. Shawbury started the second half as they ended the first, notching a goal within a minute of the restart, this time Brandon Price. Things went from bad to worse for Sutton as they had a man sent off for a bad tackle. The game had long ceased to be a contest but the hosts pulled one back, lobbing into the top left to make it 2-4 well into injury time.
Some excellent chips were had at half time though I laid off the drink. Wycombe leading 2-0 at Bradford was good news and Aldershot leading 4-0 at Swindon was a shock. The rain was torrential during the game but eased off as it approached full-time. Swindon finally won 7-4 and Wycombe held on for a 2-1 win. It was around 15 minutes walk to the station with the 17.18 pulling into the station as I arrived. A very basic train but it did the job. The Post Office Vaults had scaled back their operation but it was still good. I fancied another so the isolated Dragon Inn Wetherspoons was visited. This did the job. It was then to the station with a knackered battery. There was absolutely nothing open at Moor Street, a terrible place. The train stayed in Darkness for ages too. A train further up the platform gave no information, much more like the Chiltern Railways I know. At least I got a single seat. I was occupied through YouTube and podcasts. Back at Wycombe just after 9.20, I got the last bus home. After stopping at Tesco for yet more cider and the Soya Chinese for Penang Curry and chips, I was home just after 10. I eat most of the chips on the way home and was full, the curry would be saved for later.
COLESHILL ROAD is a practical but unexciting ground. Happily, for a 3G cage, all four sides are accessible. There is only one real area of cover, a stand for around 70 with the dressing rooms next to it. There's a digital clock on here too. The rest of the ground is open. Beside the ground is the club building. Decent food, drink and merch is available. There is also a decent amount of parking. Otherwise, the ground is 15 minutes away from town, well served by trains and buses.