Cup final memories – It’s lucky for Town when the year ends in 63

With Stratford Town through to their first cup final for many years Martin Kenny looks back through the archives to a famous cup victory. 

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The 1963 Birmingham Senior Cup Final victory has provided the most significant trophy in Stratford Town’s history. However Manager Alan Wakeman was unable to witness either the Semi Final or Final to be at the bedside of his wife who was seriously ill with cancer.

The team had overcome the odds to beat full time professional outfit Kidderminster Harriers at home in a comprehensive 4-0 semi final victory. The threat from the Harriet’s was seen off by a hat trick from Johnny Bent and a solo effort by from Sid Keenan.

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Of course as Lockheed Leamington the town’s opponents in the Final were also professional at this time and placed in a higher division the club were again playing the role of underdog. At this time there were also disagreements with the local Birmingham Football Association about overlooking the clubs players for representative games and in player awards. The town’s players went into the game with a point to prove and determined to achieve success for Manager Alan Wakeman who could not be there.

Lockheed Leamington, known as the Brakes to this day, had not conceeded a goal in getting to the Final but they were surprised by quality of the attacking football played by Town.

The Stratford Herald gave praise “for the barnstorming Sid Keenan who scored two glorious goals in the 32nd and 66th minutes”. The report continued “but this was another team triumph with the defence in splendid form and the forwards always dangerous as they set swiftly into attacks”.

Although the Brakes scored a late goal by Pete Newbery two minutes from the end this was always going to be town’s day and “jubliant Stratford fans in the big crowd were in raptures as Skipper Bill Rowley stepped up to pick up the trophy from Birmingham County F A. Chairman George Dutton”. The scale of the achievement can be recognised by the fact that this was only the second amateur team to win the trophy.

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The team that lifted the Birmingham Senior Cup were Mick Stowe, Barry Reece, Mick Gerry, Brian Merrett, Bill Rowley, Alan Gardner, Sid Keenan, Colin Hillman, Johnny Bent, Graham Jessop and Johnny Morris.

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At the end of season dinner it was announced that Captain Bill Rowley had at last been selected for the Birmingham County F.A. side. Reference was also made to the contribution of Manager Alan Wakeman who had offered to resign as he could not make the Final, the board and club were determined this would not happen and against all the odds the town lifted the Birmingham Senior Cup.

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The Evo-Stik League Challenge Cup will played at Town’s Arden Garages Stadium in Knights Lane this coming Tuesday 16th April at 7.45 with Cinderford Town the opponents.

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