September review and coming up

Bards in mid table 2 points off the playoffs but are out of the FA Cup

The Bards93421314-11310thLDW

The Bards started off the month well with a 4-0 victory in The FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round at Cleethorpes. We’re told via the club website “it was an epic cup tie against formidable cup opponents, that had everything from an [Adam Rooney] hat-trick, disallowed goals, balls kicked off the line, balls hitting the post and the inevitable squabble.” Sounds well worth the trip! Cleethorpes, a step below Stratford, had started their league fixtures with 4 wins out of 4. The draw in the next round wasn’t favourable with a home game against 2nd in the Nationwide North Banbury Utd and in front of another large crowd at The Arden Garages Stadium, The Bards had plenty of chances to get something from the game but were beaten by a spectacular goal just before half time. Leon Phillips on loan from Alvechurch had a fine debut making some good saves. A day after it was announced Dean Holdsworth had stepped down as joint manager.

In the league The Bards started with 1 win and 1 draw to go 6 games unbeaten to lie just outside the top 5 but lost at Ilkeston to fall back to 10th, still only 2 points outside the playoffs. The Ilkeston game sounds like a bit of a nightmare with injuries during the warmup and 2 during the first half including what sounded like a nasty injury to Jack. All the goals took place in 7 minutes – despite taking the lead through Adam, the re-shuffled Bards quickly conceded 2 at the other end. Despite losing to a team below us, Ilkeston were the favourites for promotion and have picked up since changing managers including a recent impressive 4-1 win at Coalville. September’s league games were delayed with the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll. After a minutes silence and singing the national anthem, Dan Vann’s header after 3 minutes at the back post from a corner gave The Bards a flying start in a new dark blue kit v Rushden and Diamonds. A 2nd through Dexter Walter’s tap in in the 2nd half from another Grocott assist sealed the game. Credit to Louis and the defence for a clean sheet after Liam was withdrawn before the game started. The Bards then faced their toughest league test of the season at home to Nuneaton. We rode our luck at times in front of another large crowd but it was an excellent point in another entertaining game with Dan Lafferty getting our equaliser and Nuneaton again missing a penalty against us. Another excellent performance by Leon our loan keeper and Dexter had a fine game causing the Nuneaton defence problems down the wing so much so they were reduced to 10 men.

Players – Will Grocott and Josh Hawker have been ever present in midfield so has Jamie Molyneux (1 as sub). Jack Turner and Ashley (some as sub) and Dexter (some as sub) have only missed 1 game. The injury to Paul McCone in the last game ended the impressive season long partnership with James McNeill at the back. Josh Hawker tops the league scoring charts with 3 followed by Dexter Walters and Adam Rooney with 2.

HIGHLIGHTS ON YOUTUBE (click on the game) – Stratford Town 2 Rushden and Diamonds 0 – (AFCRDTV) – Cleethorpes 0 Stratford Town 4 (FA Cup)(Owls TV)

League Table 9 games in and the league is fairly tight – Tamworth top and Nuneaton have 20 points followed by last year’s play off finalists Coalville (19) Needham Market (16) and Leiston (15) completing the play off positions. With 13 points, the unbeaten at home and winless away Bards lie in 10th 2 points behind 5th placed Leiston. At the other end Hednesford (2 points) now under Steve Burr have yet to win a game, Rushden and Diamonds (5) and Stourbridge (7) are in the relegation spots with 1 win each – Rushden losing 7-0 in their last home game v Coalville. Ex Bard Daniel Creaney is the first to double figures with 11 goals so far for Tamworth. At Step 2, Banbury Utd winners of the league last year are currently 2nd in the National League North and play off winner Peterborough Sports are in mid-table. After 9 games last year we had 4 wins and 5 defeats after heavy defeats to Peterborough and at Biggleswade.

Players In 21 year old goalkeeper Leon Phillips on loan from Alvechurch – more on the league website who has been impressive in goal and the versatile Lewis Wilson who came on as sub v Banbury. Lewis first joined the club at the start of the 2018/19 season and returned every year apart from the brief 2020/21 season.

Players Who Departed – Will Dawes to Yeovil Town

Looking ahead to October (fixtures subject to change so always check club website). We are scheduled for 6 matches after the Alvechurch game was postponed due to their involvement in the FA Cup. The Bards hope to return to winning ways at home to Rushall Olympic on Saturday 1st – it has to be said though that results against Rushall have been less than favourable with a record of 1 draw and 5 defeats. The Bards then start their FA Trophy action at home to Royston on 8th October in a repeat of last year’s 3rd Qualifying Round game when we lost 2-1. The away game at Stourbridge is now Saturday 15th. There are then 2 home games – a long trip for Needham Market on Saturday 22nd who have the best defence at time of writing and Hitchin Town Tuesday 25th. The Town then end their month at Barwell on Saturday 29th – the clocks go back that night (hopefully an extra hour of celebrating!)

Off the field, we have raised another £230 from the 50/50 with your help and support at the 3 home games.

August review –

DW – any opinions in this article are the author’s

FA Trophy 3rd Qual. round home to Royston

The Bards have been drawn at home to Royston Town in the 3rd Qualifying Round of The Isuzu FA Trophy. Last year we lost 2-1 at Royston at the same stage. Let’s hope we win this time (The Bards have not won a game in the Trophy since 2018-19 when they won 3 times on their best-ever run, bowing out at then National League Premier side AFC Fylde in the first round proper). Winners gain an extra £2,450! Tie to take place Saturday 8 October.

50 / 50 Nuneaton Borough Draw Prize

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-3.png

The winning ticket worth £96 (the biggest prize of the season so far) was claimed for the draw against Nuneaton Borough – the winning prizes this year are listed on the 50/50 tab.

Safe to say, we rode our luck v top of the table Nuneaton at times in front of another large crowd at the Arden Garages Stadium but it was an excellent point in another entertaining game – maybe Tony Breedon should have taken their penalty or maybe not! An excellent performance by Leon our loan keeper who was named man of the match making some vital saves to keep the score level and Dexter had a fine game causing the Nuneaton defence problems down the wing. Safe journey all those going to Ilkeston on Tuesday for our first game against them at this level – we’ll see you at the Rushall Olympic game on Saturday by the Tuck Shop. With 1 draw and 5 defeats at this level v Rushall – we are hoping for our first win against them.

New Keeper and Wilson returns!

The Bards added 2 players for the FA Cup game v Banbury.

21 year old goalkeeper Leon Phillips on loan from Alvechurch who made some good saves and didn’t have much chance with their goal. More on the league website

and versatile Lewis Wilson who came on as sub. Lewis needs no introduction to Bards fans having first joined the club at the start of the 2018/19 season and returning every year apart from the brief 2020/21 season. Lewis memorably scored our winner v Long Eaton in the 3rd qualifying round of the FA Cup last season to take us further than ever before

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Stratford Town Football Club joins the nation and the commonwealth in mourning the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The club extends its condolences to the King and Queen Consort and all members of the Royal Family.

Stratford Town’s away fixture to Leiston on Saturday 10th September has been postponed. The Pitching In Southern League have issued the following statement –

Currently, fixtures are planned to go ahead from Monday 12th September onwards, although we understand that no sporting event of any kind will be allowed to take place on the day of the Queen’s funeral, which is yet to be announced.

It was just like watching Brazil! (5 years ago)

Southern League Premier Central Division

Hereford FC 5  Stratford Town 2

Tuesday 12th September, 2017

Five years ago this month the town made the 50 mile journey for a midweek encounter in the Southern League Premier Division. Arriving in Hereford 45 minutes prior to the game the queue of several hundreds of cars suggested this would not be a normal league encounter!

In fact the attendance of 2,006 would be the smallest ever attendance at Edgar Street for a league game. Of course Meadow End is renowned as the location for one of the most memorable goals in FA Cup history. The Bulls 2 – 1 victory in 1972 over Newcastle United came courtesy of Ronnie Radfords iconic 40 yard strike in the mud bath of a pitch.  

Other than the development of the double tiered Len Weston Stand in 1974, Edgar Street has remained virtually unchanged in the fifty years since the famous game. There have been many difficulties encountered by the club in the intervening years resulting in the re-emergence of Hereford United as Hereford FC playing amateur football in the seventh tier of the English game. In contrast to this Stratford had achieved two promotions from the Midlands Alliance to the top tier of the Southern League. The guidance and impressive non league contacts of Carl Adams had hauled the town higher after many years drifting.

Hereford took the lead in the 28th minute when a Garyn Preen shot slipped between the hands of Louis Connor in the Stratford goal. It was an uncharacteristic performance by Connor under the pressure of playing in front of a packed Meadow End. The first half was a nightmare performance for Stratford and the fourth goal by former town maestro Michael McGrath seemed to seal our fate. In the 59th minute the double substitution bringing on Ben Stephens and Mike Taylor breathed new life and in the 78th minute the ball broke to Stephens and he blasted past the Hereford keeper. 

Suddenly the town started to believe with several sharp passing moves and for the next 4 minutes we were brilliant it was like watching Brazil! In the 81st minute town centre forward Jazz Luckie scrambled the ball over the line from less than a yard out and the 26 town supporters in the corner of the Len Weston stand celebrated like we had won the FA Cup.

 Alas the Bulls scored a fifth goal but the memory of town scoring twice at a famous former football league ground had made the 100 mile roundtrip worthwhile. Sometimes in non league football the memories and time spent with friends is more important than the result.

Martin Kenny

1) Louis Connor 2) Daniel Summerfield 3) Lee Thomas 4) Andy Gallinagh 5) Loyiso Recci 6) Guy Clark 7) William Grocott 8) James Fry 9) Michael Taylor 10) Jazz Luckie 11) Edwin Ahenkorah

Subs 12) Charlie Evans 14) Justin Marsden 15) James Hancocks 16) Ben Stephens 17) Liam Francis

Hereford went on to win the league that year with a massive 113 points to make it 3 promotions in a row. Let’s hope we return there soon!

Please see the Nostalgia section for other excellent articles by Martin Kenny

Correspondence to members

Our main form of communication to STISA members regarding projects, updates and upcoming events is through email so please advise us of any changes to your e-mail address to ensure communications reach you at the earliest opportunity. Please contact us on with any changes to contact details