Darlaston Town

Date: Tuesday Nov 01 2011
Ground: City Ground
Comp: West Midland Regional Division (step six)
Match: Darlaston Town 0 Cradley Town 8 HT: 0-4

ATT: 45 (headcount)
Additional: Entrance £4.00, Programme £1.00

City Ground in pictures
Ground Statistics (marks out of ten, maximum 40)
Character 8, Structures/Terracing 7, Hospitality 7, Backdrop/Scenery or aesthetics for larger stadiums 7
Total 29

By a coincidence, just days before going to the City Ground of Darlaston Town, Neil Chambers emailed me. He is the author of the book ‘The History of Darlaston Town Football Club’. It is a 220 page glossy, superbly put together, history from 1893 to present. The club is thought to have existed as early as 1874, though. The introduction to the book describes it perfectly:

When travelling down slater Street and Waverley Road in the Black Country town of Darlaston you come across a rather run down ramshackle football ground. At first glance all you notice is a large sloping pitch, a dilapidated wooden fence at the Slater Street end of the groundand a number of terraced houses surrounding the Waverley Road side of the ground.

The ground is the home of Darlaston Town FC and both the ground and the club have an unbeleiveable history. Darlaston Town FC has played at the ground for 112 years and the club has been in existence for over 130 years.

The ground certainly is in a great built up location, as they all were in those days. As for the pitch – sloping is an understatement – it would get to the final against Clitheroe, in a sloping pitch contest. The angle was so pronounced I think it must’ve been right on the edge of what would be considered unplayable. The effort of running uphill for the players, was palpable.

Mount Darlaston – look at the stand of the left to get a feel for the gradient.

It is unfortunate that Neil’s book is published in a very inauspicious year for Darlaston. Sporting a young and inexperienced side, they lie bottom of the West Midlands Premier League, getting a few hammerings along the way. The visitors tonight were Cradley Town, who were kicking downhill in the first half.

Darlaston sits in the urban sprawl of north Birmingham, between Walsall and Wolverhampton. Entrance to the ground is up a path between two houses on Waverley Road. This brings you on to the side of the ground with the very inviting clubhouse looking down on the pitch, from a height.

It was as inviting inside as it looked outside. A welcome warm place to read the programme. If the weather was better there are pub benches out front with a great view over the pitch. Maybe not in November though. The main stand stood in the middle, down the other side from the entrance. It defies the hilly gradient with spirit level determination; giving the spectator a clear view of the angle of elevation of the pitch.

Darlaston’s youngsters got another hiding. Some quite outrageously bad defending had them 4-0 down at the break. I forlornly hoped that maybe kicking downhill in the second half they might make a game of it, but Cradley added another four to record a 8-0 win. I caught two of the goals on video:

2-0 , 3-0

Great little olde ground, full of interesting features.


22 thoughts on “Darlaston Town

  1. ‘urban sprawl of north Birmingham’?

    I would recommend you never say that within earshot of anyone from Darlo., or Walsall, or the City of Wolverhampton. The ‘urban sprawl’ is called the Black Country and is in no way part of Birmingham.

    Good article otherwise, but please, Brummies we are not 😉

    1. That’s a fair point you’ve made. Very sorry about that. I knew that urban sprawl had a name! And I think I meant to say North OF Birmingham but anyhow that’s a large population to offend so sorry again. Thanks for commenting and reading.

  2. hi there, my name is Michael Butler, i am currently looking for some information of any sort with regards to a freind i know who used to both play and mannage Darlaston Football club his name is Ken Bettridge, Can anyone help? i am looking for any old programmes or photographs that he may be included in. please contact me

    1. Michael I wrote the book and may be able to help re Ken Bettridge. Please get in touch – my name and email is in the book

  3. As a teenager I spent many happy days watching Darlastonand assisting Trainer Fred Humpage(ex Birmingham City)Amongst a host of former professionals like Ken Bayley,Tim Rushton,Guy Wharton(played for Portsmouth in 1939 cup final)Vic Hodgkiss,Charley Harley,George Bright,and many others I enjoyed their stories of former glories at a time that you played for pride and not the salary.
    So pleased the City Ground looks as it did so many years ago and that Darlaston is still playing despite present problems.May the players take heart from the history of the club and that they are much better away from the curse of big monies and the pressures that brings.
    Reg Kingston OBE. FRCS.

    1. I wrote the book “The History of Darlaston Town Football Club”. Lovely to hear people recount their stories and bring to life some of the names I came across during my research. It has amazed me just how many people have such fantastic memories of the old place. I have heard from people all over the UK as well as from Holland and Australia.

      My number and email address is in the book so please get in touch to tell me your stories. There will not be another book but still interested to know more about the good old days.

      1. Hi Neil
        Can you get in touch re the closure of the football club, I’d like to help if I can

    2. I am Carol Bevis(Bayley) Ken Bayley’s daughter, I am so glad that someone rembers him. Many of the names above bring back so many childhood memories. Tim Rushton and Vic Hodgkiss remained good friends of my parents throughout their lives. Darlaston meant so mich to my family. My Mom Kathleen Bayley started Darlaston Ladies team. I try to tell their great grand chldren about Darlaston and the family love of football.
      Carol Bevis

      1. Carol

        So sorry I have only just picked this up. When I was writing the book I was desperately trying to find you or the family to recount stories about Ken and Kathleen.

        Your dad features several times ( including photos) and there are a couple of photos of the ladies team but I do not know if your mom is on the photos.

        If you do not have the book please let me know- I have one copy left and would be happy to send it to you with my compliments.



  4. Hi, does anyone have any contact details for Darlaston town, my young brother is interested in joining their youth team

  5. HELLO I THINK MY dAD john porter used to be manager/phisio for this team, along with my uncle Morris Langford in the early 70s, am I right?

    1. Sharron

      Yes your dad was manger for abrief spell in 1980 and was physio/ assistant manager /trainer for several years in the late 1970s early 1980s.

      Your uncle played for the club in 1968/69.

  6. does any one have a phone number for the club. I hav e an old photo maybe 60 years ago
    Larry Murphy was in the team lived in Birmingham Street father of jennifer murphy.
    Any information available.

  7. My name is Martin K. Lewis, and my grandfather was chairman of Darlaston in 1928. His name was Sidney K. Lewis, but he was known as: “S K” Lewis.
    Would be great if any info about his chairmanship came up during the research for the book.
    Many thanks.

    Martin Lewis

  8. You need to bring this place back. Its such an amazing place and need it back. I can understand why it was abandoned, because of the fire, but bring it back please. I can’t see this place be abandoned no longer

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