Shifnal Town
Phoenix Park

Ground No. 134
Visited - Tuesday 11th September 2007
Result - Shifnal Town 4-1 Cradley Town
Competition - Midland Football Alliance
Attendance - 79

With the nights drawing in, I was determined to get a few grounds done whilst the light was still good enough to take pictures and one ground that had caught my attention was Phoenix Park, home to Shifnal Town. Founder members of the Midland Alliance in 1994, the club had been playing at Step 6 for the past four years, but after winning the West Midlands Premier League in 2007, then they had risen back to Step 5, although were struggling in early games, sitting in 16th place with just one win from their opening fixtures. This didn’t deter me though, and with the visitors Cradley occupying their usual spot in the bottom 3, then the game promised to give them a chance to turn their early season form around.

Shifnal itself is only a small town, but a picturesque one at that, situated in eastern Shropshire, resisting the expansion of nearby Telford. With a direct train route to Wolverhampton, then it was a relatively easy journey, setting off at about 6:30pm, with the train arriving on time. The ground itself is set right on the edge of the town, so it was a good 15-20 minute walk, but once there then it’s quite a pleasant scene that greets the visitor, noted at first with the welcome sign that sits above a bed of flowers. From the outside, there isn’t a lot of development, other than the car park, so after going in, I made my way around, taking a few pictures before choosing a seat in the Main Stand on the opposite side of the pitch.

The Main Stand itself is raised from the ground and offers a great view, although the seats have seen better days. Originating from the John Ireland Stand at Molineux, as with other examples around the Midlands where they’re still in use (Cradley, Stratford, Walsall Wood) then they really are on their last legs, second hand when we had installed them way back in 1979! The rest of the ground is hard standing, although the near side and far end both have earth banks surrounding them, and with a tall fence at the near end, then the ground does have quite an enclosed feel, even if there isn’t much development here. The changing rooms and toilets are on the car park side, and there is no clubhouse (or not one I saw anyway), but despite this it’s a pleasant venue that is well kept.

When the game got started, the first half an hour was really scrappy, with Shifnal just about having the upper hand, thanks in part to Cradley looking as poor as ever. The visiting ‘keeper was forced into a couple of fantastic saves to keep the scores level, but despite his aerobatics, he couldn’t stop Shifnal taking the lead when the centre forward was put through clear and slotted past him, before two minutes later they made it 2-0, thanks to some quick thinking from the No. 7 on the wing who took a quick free-kick after a foul, played a one two, dribbled up field and hit it straight under the goalkeeper.

After the break, Shifnal made it 3-0, when the No.6 got on the end of a cross to nicely loop a header back over the Cradley keeper. The luck certainly wasn’t with the visitors from the West Midlands when in the 72nd minute Cradley managed to miss a penalty, with the Shifnal goalkeeper guessing the right way to make a relatively easy save. Cradley did get one back late on, with a good finish from their striker who squeezed it in past the goalkeeper at a tight angle, but Shifnal wrapped it up with a dubious penalty in injury time, which they managed to score to make it 4-1 and a pretty resounding victory against a poor Cradley side.

After the game had finished I made my way back towards the station, although with the train not for the best part of an hour, I found a quiet little pub that could have been straight out of a scene in Heartbeat, before finally getting the train home and arriving back with no problems.

Overall, it had been a good little trip. The ground, whilst not the most developed in the world, is a pleasant place and seems a lot more enclosed than it might do thanks to the large earth banks around two sides, and I’d recommend a visit there to anyone.

Welcome to Phoenix Park

The Far End

The Far Side

The Near Side

The Near End

Ready for Kick Off

The Near End

The Main Stand


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