Bloxwich United
The Red Lion Ground

Ground No. 157
Visited - Saturday 19th July 2008
Result - Bloxwich United 2-1 Boldmere St Michaels
Competition - Pre-Season Friendly
Attendance - 43 (h/c)

The Old Red Lion Ground, situated just to the south of Bloxwich town centre has a long history in the West Midlands non-league scene. Originally opened in 1901 it has played host to Bloxwich Strollers (the original tenants) and more famously Blakenall, who helped see Southern League football staged there, before folding in the late 90’s. Since then, Grosvenor Park and Continental Star have both called the ground home and the latest team to make use of the venue is Bloxwich United, nee Birchalls United having changing their name in the summer of 2008 in an attempt to appeal to the wider community.

After a long summer off, then I was glad to get back into the swing of things with weekly ground trips, and locally, this seemed about the best option, with not much else being on, and a return to the Galpharm Stadium for a rugby game not really stirring up much enthusiasm.

I’d set off relatively late, not having planned the trip in advance, but the ground was easy to find once in Walsall, changing busses there for a short ride 15 minutes north towards Bloxwich. From the outside, the ground stands out from quite a distance, situated right on the main road, with the tall floodlights guiding the way. There isn’t too much to see though, with the ground sandwiched in by houses on the other three sides, and only the clubhouse, and a small car park welcoming the visitor from the outside.

After going in, despite being the middle of July, and gloriously sunny earlier in the day, an absolute downpour started, so I made my way into the clubhouse and grabbed a drink before the game, reading the programme, which had been produced for all of their pre-season friendlies, with an earlier game against Walsall taking up most of the space.

When the players did come out, most fans had darted across to the seated stand behind the goal, which provided the only cover in the ground. Set back from the pitch, it ran at a slight angle to the byline, and offered about 150 seats in three rows, views restricted thanks to numerous pillars. The other three sides of the ground were hard standing, although the far end was largely inaccessible without a bit of an effort, most fans choosing to stand at the near end of the ground where the clubhouse and dressing rooms ran for half the length of the pitch along the main Somerfield Road side of the venue, with the turnstile in the corner.

The two sides were only separated by one division, Boldmere in the Midland Alliance, and Bloxwich one league lower in the West Midlands Regional Premier, and once the game got underway, for the first half it was largely even, with Bloxwich having the first chance of the afternoon when the visiting goalkeeper was forced into a save from a corner. It was the visitors who took the lead though, and it was a good goal, when number 11 broke down the left hand side, before squaring the ball into space in the middle where the number 11 powered through and slotted home. Note, that isn’t a mistake, along with two number 3’s, Boldmere also had two players bearing the number 11, which without having seen a match report, makes it a little difficult to identify players by name! They had a second effort ruled out on the half hour when the number 10 (only one this time), saw his chipped effort ruled out for offside, which didn’t seem to matter too much as the teams went into the interval with the MFA side looking more dangerous than their opponents on the break.

After half-time though, it was mostly Bloxwich and they had the chance to level things just two minutes in when a trip inside the box resulted in a penalty, but the Boldmere goalkeeper was equal to the home sides number 9, who put his low shot too close to the keeper who saved it before the rebound was cleared, keeping the scores at 1-0. That wasn’t to last for long and on 58 minutes the hosts equalised in odd fashion when their right back ventured over the halfway line, and free in space, hit a bobbling ball into the box, which eluded the diving strikers leg, only to trickle in at the far post, with the visitors keeper having misjudged the angle of the shot. Worse was to come for ‘the Mikes’ when on 78 minutes United won a free-kick on the edge of the box, which was driven home by their number 17 to make it 2-1. Boldmere went on the lookout for an equaliser after that, but with Bloxwich holding out, then the referee eventually blew for full time giving United their first win of the pre-season campaign.

After leaving, I made my way back home, glad to have made the trip. The ground is a little basic, but everyone there did seem noticeably friendly in the clubhouse and at the turnstile, which made for a nice afternoon, and if the display on the pitch was anything to go by, then it might not be too long before they’re meeting Boldmere in a league fixture. 

Outside the Ground

The Turnstiles

The Main Stand

The Far Side

The Near Side

The Press Box

The Near Side

The Far End

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