Rushall Olympic
Dales Lane

Ground No. 78
Visited - Tuesday 27th December 2005
Result - Rushall Olympic 2-2 Willenhall Town
Competition - Southern League, Division One West
Attendance - 230

Looking down the fixture lists for the festive period, one of the games that stood out for me was the local derby of Rushall Olympic vs Willenhall Town at Dales Lane. I’d seen Willenhall just a week earlier in their impressive cup victory over Hednesford Town, so was quite looking forward to seeing them again in a game that promised much, with the visitors looking to keep their promotion hopes alive, and Rushall in need of preventing a move in the opposite direction, back to the Midland Alliance which they had been promoted from just last season.

On the morning of the game there was some doubt as to whether it would go ahead, after a fairly heavy frost overnight, but with confirmation that it was on I left the house, only to be on the bus into town for a blizzard to start! At this point I thought that it would almost certainly be off by now, but having already bought the bus ticket over to Rushall, decided to persevere onwards through Wolverhampton to Walsall, where a bit of luck with changing busses, meant that I was able to get to the ground on time, despite having set out late.
Fortunately the game was definitely on, so with that news, after having had a quick look at the outside, in I went paying the reasonable admission charge of £5 and the extra £1 for a programme.

From the outside, you really can’t see much of the ground itself, with the rear of the clubhouse taking up much of the view from the car park, however once inside it’s quite a pleasant sight that greats you with a ground that is nicely enclosed and of a smart appearance. Entering through the turnstiles, which are located behind the goal, you are coming in at the end where the clubhouse and changing rooms are located. To the left is where the main, and only stand is. It’s not a large structure, running for about half the length of the pitch, being centred on the halfway line and containing three rows of seats. The view wasn’t particularly brilliant, with a number of supporting pillars cutting out a lot of the action, but with a large fence and a number of trees behind it, it did feel more imposing than it might otherwise have done. Behind the far goal was flat standing, with another large fence painted in gold and black with a large advertisement for Williams Bookmakers giving it quite a unique look. Opposite the stand was where the dugouts were located, although sadly there was only flat standing here as well. Overall, despite not being greatly developed, the ground did contain a lot of charm, and it’s surroundings helped to give it an enclosed feeling, making it feel a lot less sparse than other similarly sized grounds.

After finding a seat in the stand, the weather soon started playing up again, just as the teams came out, and a minute’s silence for a Willenhall Town official was held in another blizzard of snow. Once the game got started the snow soon stopped, and with this the visitors soon got started, scoring from a long throw in, when John Quilt headed home. Despite this though, Willenhall couldn’t find any of the grit or steel that they had shown against Hednesford, and the home side started to take the game to their higher placed neighbours, finally getting the goal they deserved close to half-time. On a breakaway, Willenhall couldn’t cope with the home attack, and when the ball was played to Leon Allen he hit it from all of 30 yards straight into the top corner, scoring a goal that would have looked good at any level of the game. In the second half it was much of the same with Rushall generally having the most of the possession, although Willenhall were coming back into it, creating the lions share of chances. Halfway through the second half, despite having had earlier shouts turned down, the visitors won a penalty when one of their strikers was pulled down by a Rushall defender, and it was Dean Perrow who slotted home with confidence, giving Willenhall the lead once more. As the game wore on, there only seemed like there would be one winner, with the visitors forcing a number of corners, but from one of these it was the hosts who drew level again when they broke away, charging down the centre, the ball finally came to Dean Baker who waited until just the right moment to chip over the oncoming goalkeeper, Danny Tipton from the edge of the area. It was another quality goal from Rushall, and no less than they really deserved, but the game wasn’t quite over just yet and the home side had a good shout for a penalty, but would have been happy with the point when Willenhall hit the underside of the crossbar late on in another attack. Despite all of the chances though, it was to end 2-2 in a game that was as good as any that I’d seen at league level recently!
There was a bumper crowd in attendance, a very creditable 230 who were spread throughout the ground with what seemed to be a good number of Willenhall fans present. Getting away wasn’t a problem, and after a walk to the bus stop on the nearby main road, it wasn’t a long journey home back through Walsall, and on to the other side of Wolverhampton again.

Overall it had been a good (if cold!) day out. The ground is a nice little venue, and belies its actual size, which is always a good thing. It’s certainly somewhere that I will be quite happy to go back to one of the days, and if the match was as good again, then it would certainly be worth it!

Welcome to Rushall Olympic

Outside the Ground

The Turnstiles

The Near Side

The Near End

The Far End

The Main Stand

The Far Side

The Dugouts

The Clubhouse

No comments:

Post a Comment