Saturday 10th April 2021 14.30
Staffordshire County League Division One
Shenstone Pathfinder 2 Audley Reserves 1 HT: 1-0 Att: 16
from Shenstone Pavillion
Of all the teams I’ve seen Shenstone’s has to be one of the best suffixes. The sort of suffix you only get in the county leagues.
This was the second Saturday of the resumption of the minor leagues, after the easing of lockdown. The offshoot of the bizarre ruling about only being able to watch a game if it’s on a public park, was that groundhoppers were probably looking at games and grounds that wouldn’t normally be on their radar. The choices now for us weren’t just step seven and below but step seven and below AND grounds accessible by the public. This required a bit of research beforehand. Although the Hope Valley League is always a good shout in these circumstances, fellow groundhopper and car-sharer, other Dave, suggested this fixture on account of the overcast weather rendering a scenic Peak District venue wasted. It was a good strategy, backed up by his Google street view of Shenstone’s ground that showed a wavy path round the pitch, that had local council written all over it. Dave was the pathfinder.
Shenstone is a large village, lying 4 miles south of Lichfield in the urban sprawl of South Staffordshire. It looks quite well to do, but obviously with non-essential shops still being closed there wasn’t a lot to explore beforehand. Actress Helen Baxendale grew up in the village by the way.
The team play on Shenstone Playing Fields, next to the Village Hall. The team started out in 2001-02 playing in the West Midlands League, but then seemed to fold in 2015-16, to then come back again a few years later. They had a 100% record coming into the game, having won all five games played before the current lockdown. Should they get promotion they might have to groundshare as I’m not sure their ground would meet the criteria in its current state. It would certainly need the perimeter bar extending to the other two sides, at least.
Despite being step eight of non-league this was an entertaining encounter and despite the disparity in league position the game was by no means one-sided. Shenstone took the lead after about half and hour and double it after about an hour. Audley Reserves, however, got a goal back and then really put pressure on the home side for the remainder of the game. Shenstone held out to keep their 100% record intact.