Pilkington XXX 3 Cadbury Athletic 2 (AET), Triplex Sports Association, 1st March 2014, Att: 47, Smedley Crooke Memorial Trophy This was a Derby in more ways than one. Google Maps tells us that just 1.4 miles separates the two grounds. Bournville – the home of Cadbury and Kings Norton – the residency of XXX are one stop apart on the Cross City, Birmingham suburban railway line. But for me this is the South Birmingham Factory Derby. In the city of a Thousand Trades, today the boys from the world-famous chocolate factory were visiting their near neighbours, the factory workers of the safety glass factory. I doubt that the players of either side these days needs to be an employee of the business that their football club lends its name to, but it adds to the romance. I have often been intrigued with the East European sides that attached themselves to certain industries or institutions such as Honvéd – the army team from Budapest or CFR Cluj – the railway workers from this Romanian town; Lokomotiv Moscow. Then there is Bayer Leverkusen, PSV Eindhoven and Arsenal … all since long turned to professionalism and not providing an outlet purely for employee engagement. XXX actually started life as a member ofThe Birmingham and District Works Amateur Football Association in 1931. This was a league that began in 1905 and once boasted 278 teams in 20 divisions just prior to the outbreak of WWII in 1939! It is alleged that the league once claimed to be the biggest in the world. These days, XXX and Cadbury are one division apart, albeit at the time of this game, just one position apart; the home team bottom of the Midland Combination Premier Division, the visitors top of Division One. The occasion for their encounter today was Smedley Crooke Memorial Trophy. This long running competition began in 1919, with the trophy donated by Sir Smedley Crooke MP and dedicated to those local sportsmen that lost their lives in World War One. Poignant that the first match I attended in this competition should be in the centenary year of the start of the Great War. The draw threw these two rivals together for a last-16 game, with teams based in Birmingham and Worcestershire from the West Midlands Regional League as well as the Midland Combination populating the draw. The Triplex Sports Association Ground is located adjacent to the factory complex of the company which the teams represents and forms part of the backdrop of the ground. The friendliness of the hosts was immediately evident. The turnstile (formed of a wooden table) operator, upon noticing my son’s St. Pauli scarf regaled the tale of playing for Aston University against the German team’s reserves. I purchased the last programme, which was in A4 format due to it being used as the template to copy the rest from. The club secretary had the teams sheets available to be photographed and it was straight to kick off. However my only disappointment of the afternoon came when I realised that Cadbury didn’t play in Dairy Milk purple, rather sky blue, the Pilks in red and navy.
Despite XXX hitting the Athletic post on 7 minutes, the away team took the lead when the referee played the advantage after a cynical scythe by a XXX defender led to the ball falling perfectly to centre forward Anthony Clarke who finished the golden opportunity on 11 minutes. Less than a minute later and Demetri Brown rounded Cadbury ‘keeper Sanders to equalise – game on!
For almost half an hour afterwards the visitors had a virtual monopoly on possession and half chances, but on 40 minutes XXX had the best chance of the half which ended with a low shot being palmed past the post by Sanders. Half-time came and a visit to the comfortable bar and club house was made, where there was one hand pull amongst the other taps and screens showing the half-time results. The second half was far more end-to-end, but poor finishing from both sides kept the score level for most of it. On 78 minutes, what looked like a clean fair challenge by a Cadbury defender on a Pilks forward was punished by the referee pointing to the spot. Craig Oldfield slotted the penalty away, but Cadbury weren’t beaten yet. Two minutes later, Clarke leapt to connect with a cross and headed the chance into the back of the net and bagging his second of the game. Shortly afterwards Clarke could, and probably should have, completed his hat-trick and won the tie for Cadbury, but his firm shot was beaten away by Pilks’ ‘keeper Reece Francis at the near post. Demetri Brown had an equally good effort saved by Sanders at the other end as the game edged towards extra-time.
The first period of extra-time was edgy with no real chance for either side. At the start of the second period, Pilks won a free kick, at least 25 yards from the Cadbury goal. The cross-cum-shot from left back Garth Davies posed no danger at all and should have been cleared by the defender stood on the far post. He didn’t clear it and neither did the Cadbury ‘keeper move for it. The ball bounced on the line and into the back of the net. The XXX players erupted with joy. The inquest began immediately amongst the Cadbury players as ‘keeper and defender blamed and berated each other. Pilks substitute Robinson had a long-range effort turned around the post late on by Sanders, but the game finished 3-2 (AET) and XXX marched on to a quarter-final date away at Shirley Town.
The Triplex is a ground with an interesting backdrop from most angles; the factory, the railway line and St. Nicholas’ Church at Kings Norton all adding to the canvas and the charm. The pitch itself is surrounded by a concrete post fence and perimeter path. A small terrace exists behind one goal and short covered stand on one side is split between seating and terracing. Overall a club well worth a visit due to its friendly people, good facilities and interesting location.