Ground Number: 1265
Saturday 24th February 2024
Saturday 24th February 2024
Lane Head 2-0 Hampton
LANE HEAD FC - A BRIEF HISTORY
The club was founded in 1974 under the name of Lane Head Strollers. They played mainly junior football and were considered a well-run outfit. In 1999, the club was absorbed into the now-defunct Blakenhall FC. It was a partnership that would only last a few years as in 2002, Blakenhall merged with Bloxwich United who decided to strip funding for the club. For a brief time, they returned to junior football under the name of FC Strollers, but they too folded. In 2004, Lane Head FC were reformed, starting up again as a junior side having several teams of all ages. Things went full circle in 2018 when the club established a senior side, following the dissolution of Bloxwich United FC. They took over their ground and joined the Midland League Division 2. They have been there ever since, never really pulling up any trees. Their best finish was 10th in their first season but this season is shaping up to be the best in their history.
Previous clubs to have played at the ground are numerous. The first Bloxwich Town was established in 1976 as Peel Football Club, representing the Sir Robert Peel pub which still exists on Bell Lane. They were known as Carvers for a while due to sponsorship reasons, then Bloxwich before finally settling on Bloxwich Town in 1989 They spent a single season in the Southern League Midland Division during the 1998/99 season but won just once all season. This was following their best-ever season when they won the Midland Alliance and reached the FA Vase 3rd Round. In 2001, the club merged with Blakenhall to become Bloxwich United, though this short-lived merger would last less than a season. They took over the Blakenhall's place in the Southern League Western Division. However, after 19 games of the 2001–02 season, the controlling Blakenall contingent amongst the joint ownership abruptly pulled out of the merger and resigned the club's place in the Southern League causing their record to be expunged.
Another Bloxwich Town was established in 2002, but they would only last until 2005, progressing through the Midland Combination. Next up was another Bloxwich United, formed out of Birchills United who had recently won the Wolverhampton Combination and then the West Midlands (Regional League) Division 1. They changed their name to Bloxwich United in 2008 and were twice runners-up in the WMRL Premier. One-time Wycombe Wanderers loanee and Aston Villa starlet Steven Cooke played for the club in 2009 but they went bust in 2012. Attempt number four was formed out of works team Rostance Edwards who had won the Wolverhampton Combination in 2013 and then were promoted as runners-up behind Austrey United in the Midland League Division 3 in 2015. They changed their name to Bloxwich Town but the curse struck again as they only lasted until 2018. Several smaller clubs have also played in the town.
Bloxwich is a market town and civil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Walsall, West Midlands, England. It is located between the towns of Walsall, Cannock, Willenhall and Brownhills. The population is around 25,000. Bloxwich has its origins at least as early as the Anglo-Saxon period when the place name evidence suggests it was a small Mercian settlement named after the family of Bloc (Bloxwich, earlier Blochescwic, meaning "Bloc's village"). Bloxwich grew rapidly in the 18th century around coal mining, iron smelting and various manufacturing industries, as part of the Industrial Revolution. Manufacturing in the area consisted of bridle bits, stirrups, keys, cabinet locks, plane irons, buckle tongues, chains and saddles. Its most famous product of manufacture was awl blades, which it is reputed to have surpassed all other places in the United Kingdom in manufacturing. The most famous former resident was Slade's Noddy Holder who was born in the Caldmore area of Walsall before moving to the Beechdale Estate in Bloxwich. Former Cardiff, Wolves, Celtic, Cardiff, Derby County & Accrington Stanley footballer Lee Naylor was born in the town and went to Sneyd Comprehensive School.
Once more, it was time to decide what game to go to on a Saturday. As ever with a weekend game, my first stipulation was that I didn't want to drive. There were also other areas such as value for money and quality of pubs, as well as how difficult the journey was. As usual, all the working out was done on a spreadsheet and the initial favourite was Gillingham Town as I'd been considering it last week. Fleetdown was the best value for money and Gala Wilton and Swanage Town & Herston were the best for pubs. Futbology was my friend as ever, and many fixtures weren't even considered for various reasons. I was scrolling through the list when one fixture popped out at me - Lane Head v Hampton. I recognised both names vaguely but it was the ground where it was being played that interested me. The Old Red Lion Ground, Grovesnor Park or whatever name it went under had been used by several failed Bloxwich clubs. The latest tenants were Lame Head of the Midland D2. The train fare worked out also, owing to one of the several quirks of ticket pricing, it was the same price from High Wycombe to Bloxwich as it was to Birmingham. This made it a decent value fare and there were also a few pubs worth a look. The only thing that could ruin my plans was the weather, so I was hoping that it would behave in the few days before.
This was all decided on Wednesday afternoon. I'd had a good day at work and arrived home to see that I'd had a failed delivery from Royal Mail for a mobile phone I'd bought from Cash Converters online. Rather than the carefree ways of Yodel or Evri, they'd not just left it on the doorstep and had taken it back to the depot. For whatever reason, I'd have to wait until Friday until they could leave it at my local post office. Perhaps covering their backs but going from previous experience, maybe not. In the evening, I watched Bradford City v Wycombe Wanderers, along with a few drinks. I needed them as on a pitch that resembled the Battle Of The Somme, Wycombe were outplayed but not outfought. A scrappy last-minute goal and a rare moment of quality saw Wycombe bag a trip to Wembley in the Football League Trophy final. Bradford's wayward finishing counted for nothing but I won't be at Wembley. It is on a Sunday so I will be working and I've been boycotting the competition since the introduction of Premier League U21 teams. Thursday brought much frustration after a gruelling day at work. I got home to find another failed Royal Mail delivery and a notification from Evri that my parcel had been delayed. At least one of those contained a case for my phone. Thursday evening saw me finalise my research including Bloxwich's footballing history and backups in case the game bit the dust.
Friday was another tricky day, busy and full of questions from people who couldn't be bothered to read the product packaging. As if I'd know the intimate details of 22,000 products just because I work there. It was also extremely busy and I didn't get out until 4 after being constantly pestered by customers all day long. I picked up my new phone from the Post Office and all was good as far as I could see. It did take an absolute age to get everything set up though and I spent all evening re-setting up banking and everything. The day of the game came and I woke up early as ever. This meant I had plenty of time for breakfast before leaving at 7.50. Walking to Wycombe station, I was 15 minutes early for my 09:28 train to Birmingham. I was really pleased to see that the game was confirmed as on as the train pulled into Bicester, a relief given some of the frost and fog that was outside.
I was in Birmingham at 11:05. It was then a 25-minute walk to my final Wetherspoons I needed to complete the Birmingham set, the Figure Of Eight. Black Dragon was available which was good. It was a fairly jaded Spoons but I was not ready to leave yet so I ordered a pint of Stowford Press. Service was variable but I was content and relaxed as I made my way to New Street to get the 12:45 to Bloxwich that arrived at 13:14. It was then a ten minute walk to the Bloxwich Showman where I ordered chicken wings basket with a bottle of Hooch for just over a tenner. There were some late call offs, not least at Walthamstow where a soggy patch near the sideline meant that the officials trousered half their fee for fifteen minutes work. Nice work if you can get it. A nice ground had been spotted near Walsall and I later found out that it was Sunday side ISSA FC, part of the independent Walsall FC supporters club. Well worth a visit, but sadly for me, primarily a Sunday ground. I had passed up the chance of an extra pint in Spoons for one in the Lane Head FC bar. After paying £4 to get in, it was £3 for a bottle of Bulmers, fairly reasonable. As ever, I was disappointed by my laptop battery discharging completely for no good reason so I was unable to get started on my blog.
Lane Head were in 5th whilst Hampton were in 7th. The hosts were in missed form, winning two and losing two of their last four games. Their last game was a fortnight prior as they beat AFC Coventry Rangers 2-0 at home. The visitors were unbeaten in four league games and also enjoyed some good cup results. Their last game was a week ago as they beat Coventry Alvis 2-0. Hampton had a lot of possession early on but Lane Head took the lead after six minutes, Jamie-Lee Tomlinson latching on to a long ball on the break. It was 2-0 on 19 minutes, a curling shot from the right flew in past the bemused keeper who was goal side of the ball, and Tomlinson again the scorer. The second half saw Hampton pressurise some more but they were so poor in the final third, they barely threatened. Lane Head had some chances on the break and never looked in danger of surrendering their lead. The contest had not been the greatest but it was a nice club to visit.
Wycombe had lost 1-0 at Stevenage, a result confirmed to me as I hurried back to the station to make the 17.14 to Walsall. I was there with a couple of minutes to spare and it was only six minutes journey. Walsall was a strange old place, I exited the station not into barriers but a shopping centre that took me back a couple of decades. It was a dated place but the people nice. A walk took me to the St Matthew's Hall Wetherspoons and after a wait I got myself a pint of Black Dragon for £3.45. That was consumed before I headed to the Fountain Inn, a nice backstreet boozer in a nicer part of Walsall. A pint of Dorset Nectar Organic Medium was enjoyed without much of a plan going forward, other than to play it by ear as to whether Banbury or High Wycombe would be my next destination. The 18:50 back to Birmingham fitted the bill and then it was a walk across Birmingham for the 19:43 to London Marylebone. The train was fired up early and power to my laptop was gratefully received.
GREOSVENOR PARK is a smart setup, Decent neighbours help the club out. There's a basic bar at the ground which also serves snacks. Officially, only a quarter of the ground is available to fans. Realistically, the only place out of bounds is the stand behind the goal but they are happy for you to discreetly take pictures. Parking is plentiful and town is around 15 minutes walk away.