Additional: Entrance £3.00, Programme £1.00, Coffee/Tea £0.80
Cottage Ground in pictures
I came across yet another step six club in the vicinity, recently, along with quite a few others from the North West Midlands. My instincts told me it’d be another 30 crowd, a small lopsided stand to satisfy the ground grading auditors, a couple of dugouts looking like two halves of an Anderson shelter and a low key affair under dim jaundiced light.
Wednesfield certainly surprised me on the crowd front; rather than the standard issue 30 spectators one expects at this level, there were well over 100. Unfortunately the WMRL do not print scorers or attendances on their otherwise decent website, so I can’t be sure. There was a real community buzz around the place before kick off, with fans milling around outside the clubhouse, kids in the playground. This fact is the more strange considering that they hold the Midland Alliance record low attendance of 10, for the visit of Biddulph Victoria. As for the other stereotypes, they were more or less accurate for the stand and dugouts but a special feature was a playground behind one goal, where one could view, tennis-like, both child and action – parents take note.
Wednesfield started out in the ambigrammatical year 1961, as Wednesfield Social FC, changing their name in 1989. They have played at their Cottage Ground since 1971 and as such have the rather unfortunate nickname of ‘the cottagers’. The Cottage itself was an institute for homeless and orphaned children until its closure in the early 1970s, and the land where the football club is now situated had been its sports field. Heath Town Rangers also play here, since getting promoted from the lower reaches of the WMRL in 2008-09 – they hail from Heath Town in Wolverhampton.
I really like the entrance (see pic above), an accidentally brilliant piece of Kitsch art in the form of a red barred gate with the letters WFC formed diagonally in white letters; maybe it’s just me! Through this entrance you can drive past the main stand to the clubhouse and snack bar.
The main stand was a corrugated iron and brick affair, with four rows of wooden benches rising at a shallow angle. Apart from this there were two typically step 6 dugouts, and the perimeter bar, with swinging advertising plates swinging between the upright supports. Despite the lack of structures it had a lot of character. Nice goals too with proper stanchions.
The game turned out to be somewhat farcical, apparently carrying over the same bad feelings from the first 3-3 game. (My second FA Cup 6-0 in four days). I felt sorry for the Castle Vale JKS keeper, who was sent off for a professional foul within the first five minutes. Despite him upending the last attacker, it was one of those challenges that you know in the strict sense of the rules deserved a red, but still wasn’t quite fair. His replacement saved the resulting penalty, giving Castle Vale renewed hope; and for the next half hour they were a match for their hosts.
However, Wednesfield took the lead with a wonder solo goal near the break. Shortly after a full blown fight took place, with both teams’ players running towards the scene. Another Castle Vale player was dismissed; 30 seconds after a Wednesfiled player was shown red and promptly sprinted after the dismissed Castle Vale player to resume the fight. Strangely, he swerved at the last minute in a feint. The whole fracas took about 10 minutes to sort.
After the hour mark Castle Vale JKS were down to eight men as another was sent off for spitting (good spot by the linesman). After this it was damage limitation for Vale. Wednesfield looked like scoring each time they came up the pitch and could have had more than another five, but most were well taken.