Tuesday 13th October 2015 7.45pm
Evostik Division One South
Tividale 1 Basford United 1 ht: 0-1 att: 108 Ent: £7 Prog: £2 Coffee £1
Wright 65 : Grantham 24
from The Beeches (picture here)
The Beeches was the last of the Black Country grounds I had left to visit at step six or above. I make it my 21st Black Country ground, with some licence on boundaries. Going south now, I just have a couple left in Birmingham (Pilkington XXX and Highgate), before I’m looking at Coventry and Worcestershire for my closest ground going south.
Tividale are enjoying their most successful spell in their history. Last year they finished 8th in the step four Evostik One South. They were promoted from the Midland League, which they won in 2013-14 by 12 points, winning a record breaking first 13 games. Before this they mostly played in the West Midlands Regional League. They were founded in 1953, but have only been at their Packwood Road ground since 1974. This, their second season at step four, is not going so well. They have been stuck at the bottom for most of it. However, just being in the division is thanks to winning an off-field Ground Grading (Grade D Spec) appeal hearing at Wembley Stadium on April 21st 2015 to remain in the division and step four for the 2015-16 campaign.
Their Beeches ground in Packwood Road is named after a British Waterways official who granted them the lease to the ground. Tividale lies between West Bromwich and Dudley. Beforehand I checked out the Court House in Dudley, just under 2 miles from the ground. The pub is a classic, with a blackboard listing the 10 real ales on offer and four ciders. It sells a few from the Black Country Ales brewery.
The ground lies just off the A4123 New Birmingham Road between Dudley and Oldbury. Like nearby Rushall Olympic it is a very flat ground, with its main structure a covered stand and terrace spanning the length of one side. The seating is provided by two very long benches sitting on two large steps.
This becomes a two step terrace further up. The other side has the dug outs and hard flat standing in frotnt of the back gardens of the terraced homes that back on to the ground.
You come in to the ground behind the goal. This is where the clubhouse, tea hut and changing rooms reside.
Despite being bottom of the league, Tividale were quite low scoring; not usually losing by many, often by the odd goal. Basford United (pronounced Baize-ford by the Nottingham locals) were lying in fifth, but weren’t that high scoring themselves. This game was a high risk match regarding my 61 new grounds without a 0-0 record. And the opening 20 minutes did nothing to assuage my bore-draw fears. However, it was a fascinating game with Tividale probably the best bottom of the league side I’d ever seen. Their defence was solid. But Basford did break through on about 25 with a neat half-volley from an in-swinging cross into the corner. 0-0 averted, I could relax.
As the game wore on Basford looked likely to hold on to their slender lead because, while Tividale continued to strive, you could start to see why they struggled with goals. In the end it took something very special to get on level terms. From out of nowhere the ball was cleared from the Basford area to around 40 yards out; Wright, seeing the keeper a little out from his goal followed the ball, positioned himself and hammered it into the air. Unbelievably the ball landed just under the bar and in – a spectacular equaliser. 1-1 was about a fair result.