Non-league Day, FA Cup Day and a visit to Amblecote to watch the Mighty Glassboys with my Dad. It was like the 70s all over again.
The War Memorial is a ground that I am quite familiar with and have written about in this blog before. However, after reading an article in which Stourbridge's home was listed in the 10 most atmospheric non-league grounds, I paid a little more attention to the detail this time around. The article made reference to the coexistence of football and cricket at sports ground, something that was quite prevalent in the early days of football but not so much these days. Stourbridge, however, quite famously play on a 3-sided pitch with one side being completely open to enable the cricket team to use some of the ground.
One thing that is easily over-looked at the War Memorial is the rather ornate cricket pavilion. Maybe I have become blasé to it because it has always been there, from the early 70s when I first went, to present day it has been there in the distance reminding us of days gone by. The cricket club was founded in 1842 and the football club followed in 1876. The pavilion has that Victorian look to it, so I am assuming it was constructed fairly early on in the existence of the clubs (I bet some local historian out there could supply the exact date), possibly even before the football club was founded.
The football ground has changed considerably since the early 70s when I was a regular visitor. In fact, it has changed quite a lot in the past year. Terracing has been added at both ends of the ground and improvements made to the seating area in the main stand. You can no longer walk behind this stand for it's full length either. Another memory of my childhood was running behind the stand hoping that I didn't miss a goal.
So, onto Non-League Day. With it being a local derby, an FA Cup tie and both local Premier League clubs out of action, there was a considerable crowd building by the time we arrived. A quick mention here for the new-look programme. At £2 it's not the cheapest at this level but it is certainly now one of the best. A very professional looking, glossy, informative 44 pages, full of statistics. Well done to all concerned.
On to the game. Both clubs have pretty lengthy match reports, Rushall (http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/rushallolympic/teams/17281/match-centre/2-29272) and Stourbridge (http://www.stourbridgefc.com/teams/61056/match-centre/2-29272), so there is little need for me to go into too much detail.
In essence. Stourbridge were a little fortunate not to go behind early on when some hesitant defending allowed Jamie Spencer in on goal and his lob beat Solly but clipped the angle of bar and post. Just a few minutes later a mazy run from Chris Lait was illegally interrupted about 22 yards out. Justin Richards stepped up and stroked a superb free-kick over the wall and past a stranded Dean Coleman. After that, the rest of the half was pretty even. Lait was causing the Pics some concern but, at the other end, Spencer was doing the same to the home defence. There really was little to choose between the sides at half-time. The consensus amongst the home support was that they would need another goal at least.
A hard fought cup tie decided by a piece of quality from Justin Richards. Rushall will have to wait another year for their cup glory. Stourbridge meanwhile have just been granted a plum home tie with National League neighbours Kidderminster Harriers.
Stourbridge - @stourbridgefc
Rushall Olympic - @rushallolympic