The West Midlands Regional Premier League title was going to be decided on the final day. Two teams could still win in. Tividale, in pole position and a point clear or Haughmond. The equation was simple. All Tividale needed to do was equal Haughmond's result and they would be champions. As it happened the final day action revolved very much around my home town of Dudley. Tividale, which is just a mile or two outside of Dudley town centre, were at home to mid-table AFC Bridgnorth. Meanwhile, Haughmond travelled to tenth-placed Dudley Town who sadly do not currently play home games in the town.
Earlier in the season Tividale had won 1-0 at Bridgnorth, despite having Ben Birch sent-off. Haughmond defeated Dudley Town 4-2 in Shropshire back in November.
Having driven past The Beeches on more occasions than I care to remember, it was high time that I finally got around to paying a visit. The ground is tucked away just off New Birmingham Road that leads out of Dudley. When I worked in Birmingham, many year ago, I used to see the floodlights poking out over the housetops. It has the feel of a very old ground and I don't mean that in a bad way. However, Tividale have only played there since the mid 1970s. Car parking is a limited on days like today, when a larger than normal crowd turns out, so parking in the adjoining streets is necessary. Entrance is through a single gate which is just to the left of the club house as you approach through the car park. There is also a tea/snack bar attached to the club house building.
It took Tividale just 3 minutes to get the early goal they clearly set out to score. Nerves, if they had any, were completely settled when Demetri Brown outpaces the Bridgnorth defence, take sit around the keeper and slots into an empty net. 1-0
Bridgorth rally have no answer to the Tividale enthusiasm and work-rate. Sure enough, after 12 minutes, Tivi get their second goal of the afternoon. Darragh Bustin weaves a bit of magic out on the right flank and then cuts the ball back into a dangerous area. Tividale's fist attempt is blocked but Dan Smith latches onto the ball, swivels and hammers a shot into the far corner. 2-0
Seven minutes later and the game is as good as over. Brown runs onto a ball over the top as the Bridgnorth defence look for offside. To be fair, he did look a good couple of yards off to me and even hesitated himself. However, when no flag was raised he ran on and scored with some ease. 3-0.
So, 20 minutes into the game and Tividale have effectively sealed the title with no drama whatsoever. Anyone who came with a view to anxious glances at Twitter to see how Haughmond were getting on a few miles away, were sorely disappointed. However, as a football fan you had to appreciate the way that Tividale had set about their task. Knowing that they just needed to win, they began the game determined to not let anxiety set in.
On 25 minutes Brown's pace, once again, caused absolute chaos in the Bridgnorth defence. He outstripped them again but this time, after getting the ball caught under his feet, he halted his run and slid a ball sideways to Jamal Fuller who took his opportunity with a low drive, beating Bristow to make it 4-0.
Just past the half-hour mark Brown's pace once again saw he get clear of the defence, rolling the ball in to claim a first-half hat-trick and make it 5-0.
It made difference at this point but Dudley Town were also a goal up against Haughmond.
Brown was unstoppable in this game. You had to feel a bit sorry for the Bridgnorth defenders who had absolutely no answer to his pace. Even dropping off and giving themselves a 5 yard start, they were still being beaten to and muscled off the ball. On 41 minutes he was at it again, bursting through and heading towards the penalty area. He was finally stopped when Callum Hill used arm around him to pull him back before he could get into the box. Unfortunately for the Bridgnorth man the referee had no real option other than pulling out the red card. To make matters worse, from the resulting free-kick, Darragh Bustin bent a low shot around the wall which Bristow failed to keep out of the net. 6-0
HT Tividale 6 AFC Bridgnorth 0. A superb half for Tividale. They set about their task with a zest that Bridgnorth could find no answer to at all.
With four goals under his belt it was time for Brown to take a well earned rest and claim the applause as he left the pitch. A superb performance from him. Power, pace, skill on the ball and lethal finishing. A defender's nightmare.
Clearly the game was well and truly over and the title in the bag. Especially as Haughmond were also on their way to defeat at Dudley Town. On 75 minutes it was the turn of Tividale's captain Matt Hunt to get in on the act, powering in a header from a right-wing corner to make it 8-0.
Could they get to double figures?
Well, on 86 minutes substitute Harvey Walker got his name on the score-sheet, hammering the ball home to make it 9-0. There was, however, no tenth goal and the home side had to 'settle' for a nine.
FT Tividale 9 AFC Bridgnorth 0. An emphatic way to claim the title for Tividale. To be honest, it was never in doubt. From the first minute, even before the early goal, they looked in control, confident and assured.
Tividale: Maher, Hurdman, Fuller, Birch, Hunt(c), L.Smith, Bustin, Wilkinson, D.Smith, Brown, Cocking. Subs: Walker, Gardner, Cameron, Welding, Shilvock
AFC Bridgnorth: Bristow, Dean, Chetter, Guryn(c), Dudley, Hill, Lee, Griffiths, Knowles, Jenks, Owen. Subs: Pike, Hegley
Ground Number: 194