Sunday, 1 November 2009


Saturday 31st October 2009
Midland Combination Les James Challenge Cup 2nd Round
Holly Lane Sports & Social Club, Birmingham

After 18 months of working every Friday and Saturday nights, and being restricted to the distance I can travel for games on Saturday afternoons I am now free to go where I want. Knowing me though I will still never travel that far as my usual requisite is that a club must be within 60 miles or no more than an hours drive away from home. Having drawn up a shortlist of games to go and I watch I decided on a 1.30pm kick-off between AFC Smethwick and Heath Hayes in the Midland Combination’s Les James Challenge Cup.

AFC Smethwick were formed in 2007 as GSA & Smethwick Town and joining the Midland Combination Division 3 the same year, changing their name to AFC Internazionale in the summer of 2008 before a further change of name to their current title during the 2008/09 season. Heath Hayes meanwhile have been around since 1965 when they broke away from the Heath Hayes Co-op Youth Club to form their own team called Heath Hayes United. The club joined the West Midlands (Regional) League in 1996 and spent ten seasons in the league before boundary changes saw them switch to the Midland Combination.

AFC Smethwick currently play at the Holly Lane Sports & Social Club in the Erdington area of Birmingham which is between the M6 and Sutton Coldfield. There are three pitches, one used by the local gaelic football club and the main one used by the hosts is enclosed from the others by metal fencing. The pitch is fully railed off with two areas of cover – one behind the near goal and a larger one on the far side of the pitch. To be honest it had a feel of “seen better days” about it. Catering was in the form of a mobile snack bar situated near the entrance to the complex with a coffee costing 80p.

The two teams are separated by two divisions with Smethwick in the second division while Heath Hayes are in the Premier. This showed in the opening exchanges with the visitors going two up inside eight minutes and it seemed a case of how many. Mid-way through the half and it could have been at least four or five to the good, but as often is the case it was the underdogs that got a goal back on 26 minutes to give them some self belief. From my point of view it turned the game into a scrappy affair and the remainder of the game is largely forgettable. The visitors put to bed any hopes of Smethwick had of taking the game into extra time with a third goal on ninety minutes. The second half was made bearable by chatting with a fellow neutral in the form of a Malcolm Holt from Telford.

Attendance: 15 (of which ten would be neutrals).
Admission: none
Programme: 50p – sold out but I got given one by the afore mentioned Malcolm Holt.

Post a Comment