The War Memorial Athletic Ground

Ground No. 140
Visited - Saturday 17th November 2007
Result - Stourbridge 8-1 Cinderford Town
Competition - Southern League, Division One Midlands
Attendance - 184

A friends party had scuppered my plans to visit Accrington, due to the time it would take to get back home from deepest, darkest Lancashire, so a more local choice was required, and after a toss up between Stourbridge and Bedworth, it was the Black Country side that won. I’d wanted to go there for a number of years now, but had been putting it off, instead saving Saturdays for more long distance trips, having planned to go there one of the summer evenings when light conditions would have allowed for taking pictures, but a suitable date had never been forthcoming, so I was happy that I’d finally get to visit the War Memorial Athletic Ground (or the more shorter version of ‘Amblecote’ as their fans refer to it as).

Living on the Wolverhampton to Stourbridge bus route, the journey to the ground was fairly easy, with the 256 bus taking me directly to the ground with no changes, lasting for a little over half an hour before arriving outside the ground.

From the moment you arrive you are made aware that this is a multi-sports venue with signs for the cricket and running clubs evident in addition to that of football. Despite this though, it isn’t a modern municipal venue like many around the country (including nearby Tipton), the first thing that draws you to this fact is a large brick arch forming the entrance to the car park. Perhaps dating back to when Stourbridge FC first played at the ground (1876 or 1878 depending on what source you read), it sets you up for what lays beyond.

The football ground is only three sided, with a cricket pitch restricting access to the nearest sideline. Behind the near goal is the clubhouse and a few rows of open terracing. To the left along the far side is the Main Stand, which is a small seated area sitting on the halfway line and straddled by two identical covered terraces either side. Whilst the two terraces have more modern roofs sloping upwards, the central part of the Main Stand is a large unusual feature, vaguely reminiscent of the East Stand at Barnet. At the far end of the ground is another terrace about half the width of the pitch and centred behind the goal. This is covered by a large barn like shelter and wouldn’t have looked out of place in a ground at a higher level than Step 4 where The Glassboys were due to entertain Cinderford Town in the Southern League Division One (Midlands).

Having taken a few pictures and had a quick pint in the clubhouse, the game got underway. To start with, both sides looked fairly evenly matched with perhaps Cinderford looking more dangerous on the break, but it was the hosts who opened the scoring when Leon Broadhurst swept home a penalty in the 23rd minute. James Dyson added their second just three minutes later with a fantastically worked goal after Damian Whitcombe(?) had broke down the left on a counter attack, getting to the edge of the box before whipping a cross in to Dyson who sprinted in and volleyed it home. That was the signal for the floodgates to open, and they certainly did with Stourbridge adding four more goals before the break, going in 6-0 up against the hapless visitors from Gloucestershire, who suffered more misfortune when Scott Griffin got himself sent off by attacking the home goalkeeper after an innocuous challenge, before making sure of a red by hitting one of their defenders just to be on the safe side!

The talk at half time was whether Stourbridge could make double figures, and they started off positively enough, adding two more to make it 8-0 by the 63rd minute. After that though nothing would go right for them. They hit the woodwork numerous times, missed another penalty and had a goal disallowed for offside, so it wasn’t to be, especially when the visitors managed to pull one back with Craig Tait nicely slotting home five minutes from time. It wasn’t to be a dramatic late comeback though, and not long later the referee blew his whistle to finish the game with an emphatic win for the hosts.

Despite being the largest victory I’ve seen to date, I ended up leaving the ground a little disappointed that Stourbridge couldn’t make double figures, and had let in Cinderford at the end to make the score sound not quite as big as it was, but you couldn’t fault the effort in the first half, and on this evidence it probably won’t be the last big win they’ll have this season (or the last big defeat that Cinderford will suffer!).

The journey home went well, and once back I was glad that I’d chosen this game, not just for the result, but for the chance to visit what is a good little ground. Whilst it is let down by only having three sides, giving it a somewhat imbalanced feel, the three developed sides are of a good standard and the crowd certainly seemed bigger than it was with fans not being quite as spread out as they might have been. With a friendly clubhouse, and an easy journey from home, then I’ll look forward to visiting in the future and would recommend it to anyone looking to pay the ground a visit.

Welcome to Stourbridge

The Turnstiles

The Clubhouse

The Near End

One of the Terraces adjacent to the Main Stand

Seating in the Main Stand
The Shed End

The Main Stand
The Cricket Pitch Side

The Main Stand
The Cricket Pavilion

The Main Stand

After Dark

The War Memorial Athletic Ground Panoramic


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