Castle Vale
Vale Stadium

Ground No. 184
Visited - Wednesday 13th May 2009
Result - Castle Vale 3-0 Bolehall Swifts
Competition - Midland Combination Premier League
Attendance - 20

North-East of Birmingham, Castle Vale is infamous locally as a troubled council estate, but hard work by the residents and a housing group have been turning that image around of late. When built in 1964 there were 34 tower blocks, which helped make it one of the largest post-war estates in Britain, but all bar two have been pulled down now, with modern housing replacing the previous eyesores. In the same year as construction started, some 10 miles to the south, the Horse Shoe pub formed their own side, who eventually became King’s Heath, entering the Midland Combination in 1977. Troubled by not having their own ground of suitable standard, they ended up playing at many of the grounds around south Birmingham, before finally taking over at Vale Stadium in 2002 following the demise of Paget Rangers. The club renamed themselves Castle Vale Kings Heath, before finally dropping the KH from their name three years later

Long term members of the Mid Comb Premier, Vale had been due to play Bolehall Swifts at home on Easter Monday, with the game going ahead as scheduled, the visitors running out convincing 5-1 winners, but it later turned out that Swifts had played a player who wasn’t named on the teamsheet, so the match was declared void and a replay ordered, good news for me, because it meant an extra game at the end of the season!

Having travelled over after work, then I found the ground easily enough, still signposted as ‘Paget Rangers FC’, which helped considering I wasn’t sure where to get off the bus! PR had built the ground in 1998, having sold their old Springfield Road home for a considerable amount, but despite having the money to build the venue, it turned out to be a poisoned chalice, with in-fighting over the windfall eventually killing the club. The ground had been built to Southern League standard, and after arriving and going in, it instantly reminded me of the new development at Stratford, with three sides of hard standing, and a 250-300 seat stand raised from pitch level on the near side. The stand itself is extremely good quality, with windows overlooking the pitch from the bar, and the gold/black colour scheme of Paget made it particularly attractive to a Wolves fan deep in the heart of Villa territory!

Having had a look round and met with a few other hoppers here to tick the ground, then the game eventually got underway. Neither side had anything to play for, Vale were guaranteed second spot and Bolehall could only rise one place to 18th if they regained the 3 points won previously. As it was, the game turned out to be a typical end of season affair, with the visitors in particular going through the motions. Vale took the lead on the half hour mark when a cross from the left was turned in by Joe Halsall, and in the second half they made it 2-0 on 50 minutes thanks to M. Frazier who headed home a free kick, before wrapping it up five minutes later when their goalkeeper Peter Maguire took a penalty to make the final score 3-0.

After leaving, I made my way back (thanks to Chris for the lift off the estate!), glad to have come. The ground is a decent set-up, capable of hosting football higher than Step 6, and should Vale make the step-up then you hope that they fare better than Paget Rangers did after having moved here.

Outside the Ground

The Turnstiles
(note the sign for Paget Rangers still up)

The Near End

The Far Side

The Dugouts

The Far End

The Main Stand

Ready for Kick Off

Vale Stadium Panoramic


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