Coleshill Town 3 Boldmere St. Michael 0, Pack Meadow, Thursday 2nd January 2014. Att: 86 Midland Alliance
I had fallen into the post-Christmas lull and was suffering with live football withdrawal symptoms. Harriers away at Hereford was postponed on New Year’s Day, along with the majority of games in the Midlands and further afield. The Midland Alliance (step 5) had the only games on in England today that I was aware of and I was determined to get to one. However the weather hadn’t abated and I wondered if any of the full programme of games in the division would survive the overnight deluge of rain.
Of the 10 games advertised, I had been to games at the grounds of 4 of them (Alvechurch, Continental Star – who play at Rushall Olympic, Gornal and Stourport Swifts). I was keeping a close eye on the pitch inspections at Highgate United and Coleshill Town as the closest grounds in the division that I hadn’t been to whose clubs were playing at home. News filtered through from Twitter quite early on that the game at Highgate (who play in Shirley) was off, most of the others had also fallen by the way side, with Coleshill, who had a pitch inspection at 4 pm being the last realistic option. “GAME ON” screamed the official Twitter account of the club and so a journey along the M42 beckoned.
The North Warwickshire town of Coleshill must been one of the most accessible in Britain, with the M6, the M6 Toll and the M42 all within earshot. This sleepy town belies the fact that it sits less than a mile from the edge of the large West Midlands conurbation. The ground itself sits on the edge of the town, surrounded by farmland, but easily found on this dark night being so well lit. Coleshill moved to this site in 1974 due to their former ground precluding them from promotion, however the club has a long history which is well-documented on the club’s historical website. Coleshill’s most famous son is ex-Aston Villa European Cup Winner Gary Shaw.
Pack Meadow is a good mixture of traditional and modern. The turnstile is of ex-Stafford Rangers cast iron vintage. The club house is modern and functional with large screens showing Sky Sports. There are two stands, either side of the pitch and whilst there are benches in both, standing dominated in the older looking structure on the East side and sitting on the more modern, although quite unique stand on the West side. Neither stand took up more than a third of the length of the pitch, but there was hard standing all around the perimeter. Overall Pack Meadow gave the impression of a ground that has had reasonable investment but also is well maintained.
In the first half I took my place in the more traditional of the two stands, stand at ground height. The wind and the rain made me grateful that there was space here. There was a big crowd tonight and there were tell tale signs that groundhoppers had decided to converge here with limited options elsewhere. There were more team sheets, notebooks, folders and cameras in hands than I would have expected at a game at this level.
The first half of football was quite even, with the home team probably shading the best chances. Lively right-back Leon Weller was proving a handful for the visitors with his marauding runs. Half an hour in and Coleshill took the lead. A clearance found its way to Dean Rathbone on the edge of the area, whose thunderous shot ratted in off the crossbar. Later in the half there was a huge shout from the home team for a penalty as a run into the box by Tymon ended when he fell into / collided with / was fouled by a Boldmere defender. My view was obscured so I couldn’t call it, the officials waved play on. The linesman, who had been previously having some friendly banter with the crowd, was now the target of some vitriol from the home support.
With a cuppa purchased at half time to warm me against the elements, I swapped positions in the second half to a free standing area on the other side of the pitch, closer to the more modern structure. The rain had stopped, but the second half started much slower than the first did. Chances that did come in this period had fallen to the home team and they were unlucky with some of their finishing, particularly when they hit the bar with a shot from the right. This seemed to stir Boldmere and in the next 10 minutes or so they had some of their best chances of the game. However Hathaway in the Coleshill goalhad remained alert and equal to anything the Micks threw at him during this period.
With approximately 8 minutes left, Boldmere left too many Coleshill players unmarked at the back allowing Danny Tymon to strike low and sweetly into the back of the net. The Town fans were relieved that they were seemingly about to secure the three points. They also had time to secure another, right on the stroke of full time, as Beeson in the Mikes goal dropped what looked to be an innocuous header, allowing Ryan Nash to challenge for the ball and slot home. There were no complaints from the Boldmere players, but they must have felt frustrated to have beaten by such a scoreline, as they had remained in touch of the victors for most of the game.
During the second half of the game tweets were flying around as people realised just how many hoppers were at the game. There wasn’t much of a choice for new grounds today, but those that chose to come I am sure would have enjoyed the spectacle and the facilities. Thanks Coleshill for getting the game on in such trying conditions.