Bolehall Swifts
Rene Road

Ground No. 206
Visited - Saturday 13th February 2010
Result - Bolehall Swifts 4-2 Southam United
Competition - Midland Combination Premier Division
Attendance - 35

Situated to the east of Tamworth town centre, Bolehall is a small, yet distinctly identifiable suburb of the town, with its boundaries roughly set to the Kettle Brook in the south and River Anker (titter!) to the north and west, previously being part of Warwickshire before the Staffordshire border on which it sat was extended to include the whole of the Tamworth district in the mid-nineteenth century. As with the rest of the town, its population was massively expanded in the 1950s and 60s with the building of new estates, and in 1953 the area got its own football club when Bolehall Swifts were established, named after the birds who would fly above the Amington Inn where they were based.

Starting life in local leagues, they initially played at the Jolly Sailor ground in the centre of the town, where Tamworth FC had also spent their early years before establishing themselves at the Lamb, and having already visited there earlier in the season, then I was looking forward to getting back and ticking the towns second ground, situated barely a mile to the north-east.

I hadn’t particularly got any date set, but having had a late start to a Saturday morning, then with few other options on, I’d circled their home fixture with Southam as one just about able to get to with the clock heading towards 1pm and still at home! Despite a bit of a rush, the journey over there, through Birmingham went well enough, arriving on time, and making my way up to the ground.

Whilst I’d been one of many to moan about the recent cold spell disrupting plans for my own groundhopping ideas, the snow and frozen pitches had become an increasing problem for the Swifts, not having played a home league fixture for nearly three months, the previous match here having been against Pilkington XXX on the 21st November, only a Birmingham Midweek Challenge Cup match on the 1st December having gone ahead at Rene Road since then. Even away from home the weather had been wreaking havoc, with the club not playing any games between 12th December and 6th February, but despite the lack of playing time, there had been a fair bit of action at the club, with ex-Albion midfielder Peter Frain taking over the managerial hotseat to try and bring an end to a run of six loses in a row.

This elongated run of poor form had seen them drop from a comfortable mid-table position to fourth bottom, and fourteen goals conceded to one for in their previous three games didn’t bode well as a Southam side also suffering from a run of mixed form arrived in town.

Rene Road had in previous life been a plot of allotments before the club bought them in 1959, the first game being played two years later in 1961. Steadily over time it has been built up, with a good sized social club welcoming visitors on arrival into the car park, and it was the building of this and the funds it would bring (hosting a wedding reception even on this matchday) that helped the club step up the leagues, joining the Midland Combination in 1980. Whilst closed in from the surrounding houses and a railway line the other side of some fields, the ground itself feels quite open after going through the car park. The main pitch is railed off with four sides of hard standing, and a changing room block on the near side. The far end has the largest structure at the ground, an impressive roofed stand with uninterrupted views which provides bench seating, whilst a smaller stand sits on the halfway line on the far side, and quite like the Meadow Street End at the Lamb is unusual in the way it’s been divided into small little pens instead of terracing that runs the full length of its structure. Still, on an afternoon that couldn’t quite make its mind up whether to stay dry or bring light showers then its shelter was welcome as the game got underway.

The visitors started brightest, playing some good football before taking the lead in the 23rd minute courtesy of their number 5, Lee Scott, who almost nonchalantly bundled the ball home from a corner whilst the home defence stood around watching. It was no less than they deserved, and five minutes later it could have been 2-0 when their number 10 managed to just get on the end of a deep cross into the box, only to see his effort rebound off the post and away, yet after this the hosts seemed to get back into it a bit and the half ended fairly evenly with Southam sitting back a little on their lead.

After the break, the game paled away slightly until bursting back into life with 20 minutes left when Bolehall equalised. On the break down the left, the ball was pulled back across the box to Neil Kitching, who hammered it home to make it 1-1 and shortly afterwards the hosts made it 2-1, when a cross was put in from the right only for the Southam left back to block it from going any further into the box when he put his hand up to stop it! Lucky to escape with a booking, his teammates were cursing when Tom Thacker scored the penalty, and the Swifts were in complete control in the 82nd minute when they made it 3-1 and game over thanks to the persistence of Jamie Newbold who chased a long ball, only to see the goalkeeper get there first, hit it straight off him, where he continued to chase and knock it into an empty net. There was a late flurry of goals, James Graham giving the visitors hope in the 85th minute when he headed home from a corner, but Chris Hayden had the final say with virtually the last kick of the game to make it 4-2 by lashing the ball home inside the box to give the struggling Swifts their first victory since October.

After leaving, then I made my way back, bumping into a good deal more football supporters who were making their way home in the opposite direction from the Lamb, where there had been another 4-2 scoreline with Tamworth being defeated by Mansfield Town, but going back to Bolehall, and the ground is good by Step 6 standards, only slightly let down by how open it feels, but despite that then its still worth a visit and hopefully todays result will be more indicative of the future for them.

Welcome to Rene Road

The Social Club

The Near End

The Far Side

The Founded 1953 Stand

The Far End

The Near Side

The Welcome to Bolehall Swifts Stand
(it's really called that!)

Ready for Kick Off

The Far End

The Near Side

Rene Road Panoramic


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