Additional: Entrance £3, Programme £1.00, Coffee/Tea £0.80
Castlecroft Stadium in pictures
This was my second top vs 2nd match in the West Midland Premier League this season, the first being at visitors Ellesmere Ranger’s Beech Grove when they played then 2nd Bloxwich Utd. It was now AFC Wulfrunians who were league leaders, after a fine run of form.
AFC Wulfrunians have existed since 2005, being an offshoot of Old Wulfrunians, who go back to 1922. Since then they have been promoted twice from the second division up to the Premier of the WM(R)L. They still have teams playing under the Old Wulfrunians name in Birmingham leagues. Castlecroft Stadium seems to have a mixtures of references to both Old and AFC versions. The Wulfs are current reigning champions of this league and until this year were sharing Wolverhampton Casuals’ Brinsford Lane ground.
Castlecroft Stadium was built in the mid-fifties by Wolves to be their training ground. It was then in the early nineties bought by the RFU to be used as their regional schools and referees training centre (Wolves having found an alternative venue). AFC Wulfrunians were all set to get promoted to the step five Midland Alliance last season, having won the league. However, they had the opportunity to buy the lease to Castlecroft Stadium off the RFU, and thus move ‘back home’ from sharing Wolves Casuals’ Brinsdown Stadium. This opportunity came with the price of Castlecroft being deemed unfit for Step 5. Ironically, after the appropriate changes were made they now have a stadium that most step five clubs would die for.
The ground is on the West side of Wolverhampton, off Castlecroft Road. The entrance is more like the entrance to a stately home, with the welcome sign on the main road leading you up a long driveway to the car park and ground. The main stand is huge for their level, a 500 seater brick built affair with the seats starting a good height up, giving excellent views all round. At the top of the stand is the large refreshment lounge and bar. It reminds me of the main stand at Connah’s Quay.
The rest of the ground is the perimeter bar and flat standing, framed by semi detached houses and large trees, all smartly presented. Nice nets too, coloured in the red and white of Wulf’s kit.
The game itself was a disappointment, in total contrast to the first top vs 2nd encounter I’d had earlier in the season, when Ellesmere came from 2-1 down to beat Bloxwich 3-2. In this game both sides cancelled each other out in a lot of midfield tussles for possession. The dull game did nothing to warm one up on a bitterly cold night in Wolverhampton. This marked my first ever (non abandoned) non-league goalless draw! Quite an achievement given the number of matches. Despite the 0-0 both teams showed, at times, why they are at the top of the league. If nothing else it left me pondering what the most amount of different top vs 2nd games you could go to in one season and which league from which year holds the record? This poser is probably beyond the capability of even the most advanced computer.
I attended this match a while back; the league table now reads Bloxwich Pld 34 Pts 78, AFC Wulfrunians Pld 35 Pts 78, Ellesmere Pld 34 Pts 77, Bustleholme Pld 35 Pts 73. Incredibly close, with four teams with a realistic chance of the championship.
Castlecroft Stadium in pictures
West Midland Regional League’s excellent website