Extra Game Time For Town Youth

Town  Youth can look forward to a busier Midland Floodlit Youth League fixture schedule in the new season after the decision to increase the number of teams in the Premier Division South from nine to eleven.

Last term’s bottom side Coton Green have been relegated while Bromsgrove Sporting and Hereford are being promoted from the Southern Division together with Halesowen Town from the North Western Division.

The full list of teams in the Division is :-

Alvechurch,  Bromsgrove Sporting,  Halesowen Town,  Hereford,  Lye Town,  Redditch United,  Rugby Town,  Rugby Town Juniors,  Stourbridge,  STRATFORD TOWN and Worcester City.

Be Aware – A League Shake-Up Is On the Way

The Football Association have confirmed that the coming season will be one of transition for Town and all the other Clubs at both Step 3 and Step 4 of the Non League Pyramid.

At present the three Divisions at Step 3 are the Premier Divisions of the Evo-Stik Northern and Southern Leagues and the Bostik (formerly Ryman) League.   Each Division has 24 clubs making 72 in all with Town being in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier

Step 4 is made up of the two lower Divisions  of each of those Leagues thus making a total of six.

At the end of the 2017/18 season an extra Step 3 Division will be created which will be administered by the Evo-Stik South League and which is expected to be Midlands based with the aim of reducing everyone’s travelling time and costs.   At the same time the number of clubs in each Division will be reduced to 22 meaning that there will then be 88  –  an increase of 16  –  at Step 3 level.

Only the bottom club in each of the three existing Divisions will be relegated at the end of the season instead of the bottom four as at present which will then leave 19 vacancies to be filled.

To  achieve this the champions and runners-up in each Step 4 Division will be promoted instead of only the champions as before, plus the best third placed club assessed on a points per game basis.  That will account for 13 places, with the remaining six being the play off winners from each Division.

The play offs will feature the clubs finishing third to sixth in each Division except the Division in which the third placed club qualifies for automatic promotion where the play off will be between the clubs finishing fourth to seventh.  At the same time a new Step 4 Division will also be introduced  making seven Divisions at that level with 20 clubs in each.

So how will all of this impact on Town ?

The simple answer is that as long as we don’t finish bottom of Evo-Stik South Premier we will retain our Step 3 status, but whether we will then be placed in the new Division won’t be definitely known until this time next year.

New stadium sponsor announced

Stratford Town officials have clearly not been monkeying around in their attempts to find a new stadium sponsor to replace the departing DCS. Today the club have announced a sponsorship deal with the social media app MoodChimp. The recently launched MoodChimp is described as a fun and flirty social, friendship and dating app. It will certainly be all change when Town welcome Stafford Rangers to the MoodChimp stadium on 13th July. You’d be bananas to miss it.

ground sign

 

The squad is taking shape

Not long till the friendlies, fixtures and August kick-off !  With the series of brilliant archive match reports whetting the appetite -and stirring the memories – and the signings and commitments starting to be notified , perhaps now is a good time to talk about the building of this season’s squad.

 

Welcome back to our favourite Will

What a thrill ; he really fits the bill !

And hello again to that lad Andy

Masons Road saw him be quite handy

Let’s hope ‘keeper-swap Louis Connor

Continues the “stopper” recent role of honour

Good to see the return of Edwin Ahenkorah

Leaving behind his long injury horror

Mikey Taylor knows that Town is the place

Where defenders will trail to his pace

Live-wire Ben will return with his skills

Ponytail too, his artistry always thrills

Dan the studying welsh wizard man

Excites  the crowd as only he can

Next up James Fry, defensive man of steel

Hopefully back-four leaks he will seal

Lastly, for now, our lovable “Saint”,  Sim

What else really can we say about him ?

 

Up the Town !

Action From The Archives (8)

Having clinched the 2012/13 MFA Championship and thereby also achieving their long held ambition of promotion to the Southern League it was a summer of anticipation and apprehension for Town as they looked forward to the inevitable extra demands on and off the field that football at the higher level would bring.

As expected there were a number of changes to Town’s squad as the new season approached, notably the retirement of the legendary Mark Faulds after clocking up 333 appearances, but Carl Adams felt that he had brought in enough quality players  for Town to be competitive although not even he could be certain until after the first game.

At least the fixture list was relatively kind as Town were scheduled to begin life in the Southern League with an away match at Thatcham Town who had finished in mid-table in the previous season and who would therefore provide a reasonable indication of  how Town might fare in the long term.

But few of the Town faithful could have predicted how that afternoon would unfold as Carl Adams’ side ran in five goals with a certain Richard Gregory coming off the subs bench to get on the scoresheet within ten minutes of his arrival and add another late on.

And that was just a foretaste of what that memorable season would bring as Town scorched to 103 League goals with Gregory winning the Division 1 South and West Golden boot with 39.

FIVE STAR TOWN STUN THATCHAM 

Thatcham Town       –        1      –      Paterson 58                                                                                             Stratford Town         –        5      –      West (2) 23 & 87  Green 39  Gregory (2) 70 & 90 + 2 

For so long it had seemed to be an impossible dream, but promotion at last became reality for Town at Waterside Park on Saturday when they began life in the brave new world of the Calor Southern League only four short months after clinching the Baker Joiner MFA Championship.

And Carl Adams’ side turned in a performance far beyond the expectations of even their most optimistic supporter as they ran in five goals to get the season off to a fairytale start  and send the sizeable contingent of Town fans who had travelled to witness their Club’s debut at Step 4 of the Non-League pyramid back home surely pinching themselves to see if it really was true.

With the majority of the title winning squad having gone their separate ways Town’s team for  this history making occasion had a distinctly new look about it, and of the side which started last season’s final MFA game only Harry Donaghy, Simeon Tulloch and Joe Halsall did so here.

Not surprisingly Town made a cautious start, and in the opening minutes teenage keeper Sam Brady  –  who was preferred to last season’s regular stopper Chris Jay after impressing in the  last few friendlies  –  showed his bravery by coming out to punch clear as Callum Willmoth chased down a through ball, and soon after confidently held a snap shot from Kalief Madden.

Gradually though Town settled down with Joe Halsall and Rob Evans making their presence felt in midfield, and they took the lead on 23 minutes when Phil Green headed a Simeon Tulloch right wing cross into the path of Matt West who from 12 yards out drilled the ball beyond the left hand of Thatcham keeper Ashley West into the bottom corner of the net.

Thatcham tried to hit back with a rasping Willmoth effort being deflected behind off a defender before Town doubled their lead on 38 minutes with a cleverly worked free kick a couple of yards outside the penalty area.  Matt West deceived the Thatcham defensive wall by looking as if he was going to shoot and  instead rolled the ball to the unmarked Green who neatly slid it past the helpless Ashley West to send Town in at the break two up.    

Town had an early chance soon after the start of the second half when Chris Sterling worked his way to the byline down the left  to set up an opening for Green who hit his shot straight at the relieved Ashley West.

But Thatcham were now upping their tempo in an effort to get back into the game, and Alex Charlick let fly with a fierce effort which Brady only held at the second attempt before they pulled a goal back on 58 minutes in hugely controversial circumstances.

It stemmed from a Charlick free kick which was floated into the Town six yard box where it was touched on by Chris Paterson only for Brady to smother the ball apparently on the line.  Thatcham appealed that it had crossed the line before being grabbed by Brady  but the referee initially waved play on until  seconds later, with Town in possession on the halfway line, he was alerted to some frantic flag waving from his assistant.

After stopping the game to consult with the assistant he then bizarrely reversed his original decision and awarded  Thatcham the goal.

On the day when the Goal Decision System was launched in the Premier League it would certainly have been interesting had it been in operation here.

Town were temporarily knocked out of their stride by this setback as Thatcham cranked up the pressure.  Charlie Hull went close from distance and the dangerous Charlick finished a run from inside his own half with another well struck effort which was spectacularly tipped over by Brady.

But with twenty minutes to go Town regained their two goal advantage with arguably the best move of the match as Simeon Tulloch and Josh Shepherd exchanged passes down the right for Shepherd to deliver an inch perfect cross which was turned in by substitute Richard Gregory from close range.

Soon after only the crossbar prevented Thatcham falling further behind when a Sterling special rebounded to safety with Ashley West well beaten, but then at the other end Brady continued his outstanding form as he produced a tremendous double save when Thatcham mounted what turned out to be their last meaningful attack.

His first save was smart enough as he plunged to his right to parry another fierce drive from Charlick but his second was even better as he recovered instantly to block Hull’s follow-up as well.

From then on the result was never in doubt, and Town emphasised that it was very much their day  by scoring twice more  in the last five minutes.

The first came when Town won a penalty after Paterson was red carded for bring down Matt Gasper.  Although the keeper saved Matt West’s spot kick Town’s Man of the Match  thumped home the rebound, and in added time he turned provider by helping on a long throw which was volleyed in by Gregory to complete a memorable and special afternoon.   

TOWN : Sam Brady, Josh Shepherd. Harry  Donaghy, Liam Reynolds, Jim Mutton (Loyiso Recci 46), Rob Evans, Simeon Tulloch (Matt Gasper 78), Joe Halsall, Matt West, Phil Green (Richard Gregory 61), Chris Sterling..       Unused Subs  –  None.

THATCHAM :  Ashley West, Ben McCready, Matt Bowler, Chris Paterson, Gareth Thomas, Jordan Seward (Tom Lockyer 57), Callum Willmoth, Charlie Hull, Kalief Madden, Sam Hamilton (Adam Wallace 74), Alex Charlick.     Unused Subs   –   Peter Raines, George Stirland & James East

Referee    –    Robin Cox

Assistant Referees    –    Paul Maxwell & Thomas Moisey

Attendance      –    66

Town  Man of the Match    –   Matt West

The View From The Dug-Out  –   Carl Adams is all smiles after a winning start

“That was a tremendous performance and a great result.

We look like a team that can score goals and that was proved today.  We are also a developing team with a lot of new players  –  we have a nice blend of youth and experience and they are increasing in  confidence and understanding all the time.

But although there are plenty of positives to take from today we mustn’t get carried away  –   it was only one game.”

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams 

Town           –     GA  11  OT  7  HW  1   CW 3  FC  13  OS 2  YC 2  RC  0

Thatcham    –     GA  11  OT  6  HW  0    CW  2  FC  10  OS 2  YC 1  RC  1

Town Yellow Cards          –    Halsall & Reynolds

Thatcham Yellow Cards   –    Hull         Red Card   –   Paterson

Match Report by Bryan Hale

New Name For Southern League

The Southern League has announced that EVO-STIK are to continue their sponsorship  for the next two seasons with the option to extend for a further period beyond that.

As a result the League is to be rebranded as The EVO-STIK League South with the Premier Division to be known  as The  EVO-STIK South Premier.

The titles of the  two lower divisions are being changed from Division 1 Central and Division 1 South and West to The EVO-STIK South East and The EVO-STIK South West.

New official website launched

The club have officially launched their new website today through the Pitchero platform which provides web domains primarily for sports teams. The page can be reached at http://www.stratfordtownfc.co.uk

The website replaces the old DCS owned site which was not popular with many supporters as it was often out of date and difficult to navigate. The old site relied on webmasters at the former Town sponsor to authorise postings. This often led to a delay in news items appearing which was less than ideal for supporters. It’s hoped that the more user friendly layout of the new site will lead to up to date news and reports from all levels of the club, from under age teams through to the first team, reaching fans more quickly.

 

Action From The Archives (7)

The wins kept coming in the 2012/13 season, and following their 9-0 demolition of Continental Star featured last week Town continued to blaze away at the top of the MFA  table and by Christmas they had established a 14 point lead.

A Boxing Day defeat at Coventry Sphinx proved to be only a blip as the next five games were all won, and as their rivals fell away Town needed only one point with five games still left to play to clinch the title.

By chance the first of those games was at home against a Stourport Swifts side managed by former Town boss Rod Brown who beaten Town in the reverse fixture back in February  –  one of only three losses so far suffered by Town during the season.

But in front of a bumper crowd on an inevitably tense afternoon the legendary Tyrone Fagan’s fifth goal in five games secured the point needed and Town were Champions.

Never has a draw seemed more like a win, and never has a point been more valuable. !!

TOWN ARE THE CHAMPIONS !!   

Stratford Town          –      1    –     Fagan  42                                                                                                   Stourport Swifts        –     1    –     Pountney  48 

There may have been the annual celebrations for Shakespeare’s Birthday in Stratford on Saturday but they were surely as nothing compared to the joyous scenes at the DCS at around a quarter to five when the referee blew for time at the end of the game against Stourport Swifts and Town had earned the draw which gave them the point they needed to clinch the Baker Joiner MFA title with four games still to play.

And with the title comes promotion to Step 4 of the Non-League Pyramid, which means that when the new season kicks off in August Town will be playing at the highest level in their history.

No wonder then that there were tears as well as cheers amongst the bumper crowd of 379 when a nervy and emotional 90 minutes were finally all over.

Town went into this game knowing that a single point from a draw was all that was required to make sure of the Championship, but they also knew that this was never going to be a stroll in the pleasant Spring sunshine.  The Swifts were lying second in the table   –  although a massive 19 points behind Town  –  and they had been one of only three teams to beat Town in the League this season with a narrow 2-1 win back in February.

There was also the Rod Brown factor to take into account but this turned out to be a non-runner as Town’s former manager was apparently away in Dubai.

Yet for Town’s anxious supporters the omens before kick off were hardly encouraging.  Although Harry Donaghy was able to return after completing his three match ban the influential Lei Brown’s nagging groin problem ruled him out and their commanding central defender Melvin Gourlay was unavailable.   Richard Robinson came in for Gourlay while play-anywhere Mark Faulds having deputised at left back during Donaghy’s suspension now took over from Brown in midfield.

And the early minutes only added to the tension as Swifts were immediately into their stride and thought that they had gone ahead in only the sixth minute when Town struggled to clear a corner.  Calvin Dinsley returned the ball into the six yard box and it was bundled in by Lewis Pountney only for the referee to rule it out for a foul on keeper Chris Jay much to Town’s relief.

Town were not making much impact up front although Simeon Tulloch used his pace to make   a couple of eyecatching runs down the left, and it was Swifts who continued to be the more threatening of the two sides.  Their strike pairing of Pountney and John Griffin had already  notched over 50 goals between them this term, and  the Swifts gameplan was simply to get the ball up to them as quickly as possible and hope that they would be able to add to that already impressive tally.

Fortunately Loyiso Recci was immense at the heart of Town’s backline with Aaron Stringfellow again putting in another admirably composed display on only his third game back, but even so the Swifts would surely had taken the lead but for the inspired form of Jay in the Town goal.

On 18 minutes he bravely smothered the ball at Pountney’s feet as the striker looked to get on the end of a Dinsley ball into the penalty area, and after a teasing cross from Paul Hurrell had floated beyond Pountney at the far post Jay pulled off a quite brilliant save as the half reached its midway point to keep out a header form ex-Town man Tim Jackson.

Again it was Hurrell who launched the ball over from the right and Jackson had a free header from eight yards out  which was destined for the top corner before Jay leapt to his right to push it behind.

Josh O’Grady briefly raised the crowd’s spirits with a useful effort which flew into the side netting, but the Swifts continued to pile on the pressure with Griffin having a shot half stopped by Jay with Richard Robinson hacking the loose ball to safety and then Griffin heading over as Town once more had difficulty in dealing with another corner.

But three minutes before the break Town kept up their record of scoring in every game this season when Tulloch found some space on the left and floated over a teasing cross for Fagan to outjump Mark Benbow and direct a glancing header beyond Swifts keeper Hadyn Whicombe into the far corner of the net.

It was the fifth game running that the hardworking Fagan has been on the scoresheet, and he now has 13 for the season.

Having dominated play up to then the Swifts were stunned at finding themselves behind, and it could have got worse for them in the final minute of the half when O’Grady finished a promising with a well struck shot which was only inches wide of Whitcombe’s right hand post.

Having probably been fortunate to have been leading at the break the last thing Town wanted  was for the Swifts could nick an equaliser soon after the restart, but that is exactly what they did.   Richard Robinson tangled with Pountney as the Swifts dangerman chased a through ball towards the penalty area and although the subsequent free kick was blasted into the Town wall by Jackson it was not properly cleared.

Eventually it was picked up by Jordan Jones on the right who drilled it back into the congested penalty area where it was turned in by Pountney from close range for his 24th MFA goal of the season.

That really set the nerves jangling for the rest of the afternoon as Pountney continued to keep the Town backline at full stretch shooting narrowly wide from distance and often needing the combined attentions of Richard Robinson and Recci to prevent him from getting a proper sight of goal.

Town survived an awkward moment in the 66th minute when Jay was penalised for time wasting to concede a free kick a yard inside the penalty area but once more the Town wall did its job.  Soon after it was an even narrower squeak when Dinsley’s inswinging corner from the left was touched onto the bar and over by the under-pressure Jay as the Swifts continued their high tempo long ball strategy.

Nevertheless the minutes were gradually ticking away, and with a quarter of an hour left a typical Tony Robinson lay-off sent Fagan away down the inside right channel only for him to be crowded out by the advancing Whitcombe with the help of the backpedalling Benbow.

Chris Lait was now on for Donaghy and was not far away with a 20 yard snap shot, and as the game headed into its closing ten minutes it seemed as if some of the fizz had gone out of the Swifts approach play.

Jay comfortably held a Benbow header and was smartly off his line to beat Griffin to another through ball, while a the other end only a perfectly timed tackle from Jamie Willetts denied Lait as he latched onto an O’Grady cross.

Into added time and with the crowd frantically counting down the seconds Lait shot straight at Whitcombe before the longed-for final whistle and at last the celebrations could begin.

The Championship Trophy was presented to skipper Joe Halsall and his ecstatic team-mates  while the delirious Town faithful could rejoice at seeing history being made on a day which will be savoured for a long time to come. 

TOWN : Jay, Stringfellow, Donaghy (Lait 73), Recci,  R Robinson, Faulds, Tulloch, Halsall, A Robinson, Fagan, O’Grady.     Unused Subs  –  Molyneux, Mooney & Hazlett (GK)

STOURPORT :  Whitcombe, Jones Willetts, Spencer, Benbow, Walker, Hurrell, Dinsley, Poutney, Griffin, Jackson.     Unused Subs   –   Adams, Evans, Seekings, Williams & Kirby

Attendance      –    379

Marston’s Town  Man of the Match    –   Tyrone Fagan

The View From The Dug-Out  –   a jubilant Carl Adams reflects on a momentous afternoon

“First of all I thought it was an awful game.  Their tactics place far too much emphasis on the long ball for me, and unfortunately we found ourselves being sucked into playing the same way.

It also didn’t help being without two of our key players for what was always going to be a challenging encounter, but we came through and I’m chuffed to bits.

And at last we are the Champions.   I feel that we effectively won it in December and January when we built up a big lead at the top of the table, and nobody can catch us now.

This is also the right time to remember Morton Titterton.   He brought me to the Club last summer and we were a great partnership until he had to stand down.  In the midst of all these celebrations his input should not be forgotten.”

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams 

Town          –     GA  5  OT  2  HW  0   CW 2  FC  13  OS  6  YC 1  RC  0

Stourport    –     GA  8  OT  5  HW  1   CW 8   FC  10  OS  4  YC 1  RC  0

Town Yellow Cards          –     R Robinson

Stourport Yellow Cards    –    Hurrell

Match Report by Bryan Hale

Andy Gallinagh Returns To Town

Carl Adams has pulled off a real coup in persuading the experienced defender/midfielder Andy Gallinagh to return to Town for the coming season.

Andy was a product of the Town’s Youth system, and after breaking into the first team during the 2002/3 season he was snapped up by Cheltenham Town.   He went on to make over 100 appearances for the Robins before switching to Bath City in 2011 where he also clocked up over 100 games in two spells either side of a season at Hereford United.

He spent last term at Worcester City making 32 appearances in all competitions.