The Staffordshire County Senior League was founded in 2005. It was a merger of the Midland League (formerly known as the Staffordshire Senior League) and the Staffordshire County League. It sits at step seven of non-league football, the highest level at which your ground does not need floodlights. Promotion would be to the North West Counties League Division One, should the winner have the right facilities.
It has just 16 teams this season, two less than last year. The winners, Stretton Eagles, by far the most easterly team, from Burton-on-Trent, have switched divisions to the Midland Combination Division One, also step seven. Holt JCB were relegated in their first season, though Eccleshall are still in the top flight despite finishing below them. Barlaston FC either went bust or now play in the Uttoxeter and District League. Confirmation needed on that one. Stone Dominoes were promoted in second place behind Barton United. I don’t know why Barton Utd stayed in Division One.
|Ball Haye Green||34||17||6||11||72||43||29||57|
|Abbey Hulton United||34||13||5||16||65||67||-2||44|
Of the 16 teams in the top division five are basically reserve teams, though the title ‘reserves’ is never present in their title. These are Newcastle, Kidsgrove, Stone Dominoes, Eccleshall and Norton. Their first teams are in the Unibond Division One South (Newcastle, Kidsgrove), the North West Counties Premier (Stone Dominoes) and First Division (Eccleshall and Norton). As such they play at their first teams’ floodlit venues, except Stone Dominoes who, while playing at the same Yarnfields complex, play at one of the satellite pitches, without floodlights.
Pictures and details of the other four grounds can be found in the A-Z list of non-league teams on the home page.
Two other teams, Sandbach United and Congleton Vale, also share the ground of a team higher up in the pyramid. Sandbach play at the Barton Stadium (Winsford United) and Vale play at Congleton Town’s Booth Street.
Sandbach United were formed in 2004 as an amalgamation of Sandbach Albion and Sandbach Ramblers. They are currently working on a brand new floodlit facility in the town.
I don’t know too much about Congleton Vale. I believe they were formerly called Vale Juniors.
Of the remaining nine clubs with their own grounds, six are in Stoke-on-Trent, two in Newcastle-under-Lyme and one in Leek. Hanley Town were founded in 1966 and have a very strong club, finishing well most seasons, having won it in 2005-06 and runners up in 2006-07. They are doing well again this year and are strong title contenders. They also have ambitions to upgrade their Abbey Lane ground to step six status. Their ground lies in Abbey Hulton, just north of Hanley and not far from Abbey Hulton Utd.
Abbey Hulton United, founded in 1947, play at Birches Head Road. This is just off the main Leek Road, in Abbey Hulton. Facilities here include a bar, but the ground is just a perimeter bar. However, a slope on one side can give you a good view from the top.
At the northern end of the city is Goldenhill Wanderers. Goldenhill is just north of the northern most of the six towns, Tunstall. It is between Tunstall and Kidsgrove. However, they play their matches at Sandyford Cricket Club, a bit further south. They are the second oldest club in the league, dating way back to 1887.
Shooting right down the other end of Stoke you have two teams who are based around Longton, the furthest south of the six towns. Foley FC, named after a now forgotten area of Fenton, were founded in 1947. They play in Whitcombe Road, just off the A520. Like Hanley Town, they are very ambitious and hoped to improve their ground and have Whitcombe Road adopted. I think planning permission was denied recently , so their plans are on hold for now. They won the league in 2008-09. However, they have lost all 14 of their games so far this season. Florence Colliery FC, play off Lightwood Road, not far away from Foley. They have good facilities there and both teams’ grounds do boast small stands.
Manor Inne FC, play their home games near Hanchurch, in the middle of the sticks, off Whisper Lane. It probably isn’t classed as Stoke-on-Trent technically. It is about a mile away from junction 15 of the M6. They play at a complex known as Shamblers FC or the North Stafford Sports Club. This is their second season since promotion from division one.
Redgate Clayton are not too far away at the bottom end of Newcastle-under-Lyme, also near junition 15. They were founded in 1969 and play at Clayton Community Centre. Like Manor Inne there are no stands, just a pitch, basically, with clubhouse.
Right at the north end of Newcastle are Wolstanton United, strong performers in the league for the past few seasons and going well again this year. Founded in 1946 they won the league title twice running in 2006-07 and 2007-08. Wolstanton United actually play in Bradwell, just a bit north of Wolstanton at the Bradwell Community Centre.
Last up is Ball Haye Green, from Leek, who are the only club in the division, except those sharing grounds, with floodlights. They are also the oldest at 1880! Their Ball Haye Green WMC ground is a good set up with clubhouse and snack bar. They also regularly issue programmes. There is a covered stand there, but the last time I went, the seating seemed to comprise of benches rather than seats. It can’t be too far from being step six standard though and it’d be good to see them step up in the near future.
If anyone can fill in the missing information it’d be appreciated – please email me or comment. As for the other two divisions I know very little about the clubs or where they play. With one notable exception – Northwood Town from division One play at Northwood Stadium, an impressive athletics ground with floodlights and 750 seater stand – home to Stoke Athletics club. Over the years the ground has been used by a number of other clubs without their own grounds, such as Fegg Hayes and Hanford.
If anyone can give me details of the other clubs in the lower divisions I would be grateful.