from Pride Park
Wolverhampton Sporting Community (or WSC as I like to call them, like When Saturday Comes magazine) changed venue last season, but I only realised at the start of this one. They were sharing Wednesfield’s Cottage Ground, as they were when they were called Heath Town Rangers (until 2010-11). Last season they moved to a ground at Great Wyrley; I couldn’t find any details on their new ground, but looking at their uncorroded, smart metal floodlight pylons, am guessing that it has recently undergone an upgrade and hence WSC’s move. All last season, unbeknownst to me, this club had shot to number one in my nearest unvisited grounds list; 19 places ahead of the usual stalwarts of the number one slot, Graham Street Prims. The ground isn’t even as far as Wolverhampton; Great Wyrley is a couple of miles south of Cannock, eight miles north of Wolves, lying between the legs of the M6(1 + toll).
WSC were founded as Chubb Sports, where they played in the grounds of the lock and safe company factory. I’d like to tell you they were locked out of their ground, but the factory was closed and all the grounds sold to housing. The club refounded as Heath Town Rangers in 2001.
It was another two Daves evening game; I was meeting the other one at the GBG recommended Crystal Fountain in Cannock beforehand, for some pre-match ale. The Crystal Fountain, it turns out, used to be a house of dubious repute; but has now re-invented itself as a purveyor of fine beers and convivial atmosphere. It has a few titles from the Black Country Ales brewery in its arsenal, but I went for a citrusy fruit beer called Pasha Pasha from Grafton Ales.
From the pub it was a couple of miles, under the M6 toll, into Great Wyrley and Hazel Lane. A few dozen yards down Hazel Lane and Pride Park appears on the left, while the lane becomes countrified. Everything is going on at one end of the ground, with their small covered stand lying next to the large two storey clubhouse, containing Wolfies Bar, which you enter up some metal steps. The stand was a refreshing change from the Atcost variety that I was half expecting on account of this ground being new to step six. It comprised three rows of benching, two benches per row.
The visitors this evening were high flying AFC Bridgnorth, who had got off to a free scoring start to the season. Bridgnorth had gone bust a few seasons back and were working their way back up the pyramid. WSC were in mid-table.
AFC Bridgnorth showed their superiority early on and were ahead within ten minutes, when a ball lofted over the WSC defence was trapped down and fired back at goal with the keeper only parrying it. It was two before half time as the keeper was lobbed from the edge of the area. WSC struggled to make chances and when they did they didn’t take them. They hit the bar shortly before half time.
Bridgnorth’s third was an absolute class strike; if scored in the Premier league would be shown in the opening titles. Dispossessing WSC on the right hand side about 30 yards from goal, rather than running in close, Griffiths hit it with the outside of his right foot, perfectly lobbing the keeper, into the far top corner. In the final minute, a scramble was completed with a curled strike into the top of the net, that should really have been saved. Pride Park is a small venue but it had something indefinable that I really liked.