Additional: Entrance £5, Programme £1, Coffee/Tea £0.80
Phoenix Park in pictures
Shifnal Town play in the Midland Alliance, a solitary step five league with just one division. I think it is the only step five league that doesn’t have a lower step six league. Its feeder leagues are the Midland Combination and the West Midland Regional Premier. Shifnal were champions of the latter in 2006-07.
They were founded in 1964 as St Andrews Youth Club FC, based at Idsall School and initially playing in the Wellington and District League. The Idsall School is right next to the ground.
The visitors this evening, Barwell, were the reason this fixture attracted me so much. As a peruser of the lower non-league tables in the north and midlands, I noticed that they were hammering teams, week in, week out. Their record coming in to the game was 8 1 0, 23 4; 6 1 0, 32 1. 14 wins 2 draws no defeats and only 5 conceded. This included away wins at Rocester (9-0), Alvechurch (7-0)and Friar Lane & Epworth (6-0). I thought they must be seriously good.
Like Ellesmere, the last Tuesday, the drive to Shifnal was through some very dark minor roads, this time south through Eccleshall into darkest Shropshire, through Lovecraftian tunnels of trees. Phoenix Park lies to the north of Shifnal off a country road. It is worth arriving early as the car park fills quickly and I was told parking on the road could be a bit risky, with break-ins occurring at their last home game.
Phoenix Park is one of my favourites. It’s a shame my camera was being repaired and I only had my son’s camera, as my very dark pictures don’t do it justice. It has a cracking main stand, a very solid structure with 400 or so seats.
The perimeter was solid white concrete posts, with a shiny red bar going through them. The goalposts were my favourite sort and very rare nowadays, even in the depths of the non-league pyramid. Red back stanchions like the ones at Highbury in the late eighties/early nineties.
Another nice feature of the ground was the side opposite the main stand, the side where you enter, and where the snack bar is. This is a wide swathe of sloping grass and terrace, where at the back you get quite a good elevated view.
Barwell lived up to their expectations. They almost scored after 10 seconds in a rare moment of inprecision. Their finishing was absolutely exceptional for their level of football, including two freekicks, the first of which was tucked right into the top corner. They left Shifnal for dead in a seemingly effortless win in which they should really have scored more.
Since this game they have continued to win without conceding. They are now 16 2 0 with only 5 conceded. I would love to see them play Newcastle Town from the North West Counties Premier league, also step 5. Newcastle are now 20 0 0 with only five conceded, included 10 clean sheets on the trot. It would be a clash of the step five titans
Phoenix Park in pictures