Warstones Wanderers
Long Lane Park

Ground No. 156
Visited - Tuesday 6th May 2008
Result - Warstones Wanderers 2-1 Shenstone Pathfinder
Competition - WMRL Division One
Attendance - 25 (h/c)

Formerly the home of defunct side Wyrley Rangers, Long Lane Park had played host to a number of non-league clubs since being opened in 1988. Warstones Wanderers were the latest tenants and looked possibly like the last ones with the ground having been sold off for development by the owners, so with this in mind I wanted to get along at least once.

Set in the middle of countryside, just outside of Wolverhampton/Walsall, then it isn’t the easiest of grounds to get to if you don’t drive, but fortunately I’d managed to get dropped off, having time for a pint in the clubhouse, and a read of the programme before it was time for the game to start.

Unusually, the clubhouse is fenced off from the rest of the ground and you have to go back out, through the car park and then through a gate to get back in. Once in, then all of the facilities are along one side, with a covered, 100 seat stand in one corner, and the changing rooms and clubhouse running along the rest of the touchline. The near end and far side are both hard standing, whilst the far end is inaccessible with a large fence and trees concealing a train line behind. There is a floodlit training pitch adjacent, whilst fields surround the ground on most sides, helping add to the middle of nowhere feel to it, especially after dark.

With the West Midlands Regional League Division One season drawing to a close, then neither side had anything to play for other than pride, but once the game got started, the home side looked to be doing just that with them taking the lead on just 7 minutes. A ball played into the box forced a good save from the Shenstone goalkeeper, but he couldn’t keep out the rebound and a Warstones striker put the home side ahead. He was called into action again 20 minutes later, and produced a fantastic reflex save to scoop the ball out of the air as Warstones started to dominate the half. Indeed they were so in control that 38 minutes had passed when Shenstone registered their first shot on goal, ballooning the ball over the bar from close range, and they were made to pay in bizarre fashion right on the stroke of half-time when the Shenstone ‘keeper saved a weak shot, before seeming to juggle the ball only to drop it at the feet of a pouncing Warstones forward who made no mistake in adding the second.

The 2nd half was more even and Shenstone got one back on 57 minutes when the substitute no 17 made an immediate impact getting his head on a cross from the right to make it 2-1 shortly after coming on. The visitors went on to have the best of the second period, but couldn’t force an equaliser, despite having a goal ruled out for offside, so the home side finished the match with all 3 points in the bag.

After the game I made my way back towards home, having to walk several miles through country lanes before finding the nearest bus service still running, but I got back in the end, glad to have visited the ground.

Overall, it might not be the most well developed ground in the world, even at this level, but it is quite a pleasant place to watch football at, and was quite welcoming in the club house, so if it’s still around next season or beyond, then it’s certainly worth a visit. One point of note though is that if you like to keep a record of stats from games visited, then note it down at the time, as the crowd was never announced, and information on games in the West Midlands Regional League is difficult to come by due to the poor coverage online. You’d expect the league to at least have an official website instead of relying on the full time site which rarely gives decent information other than results. As both the Warstones and Shenstone websites are hopelessly out of date, then the only attendance I could give would be the 25 that I counted halfway through the second half, easily the smallest crowd I’ve been in to date.

Welcome to Long Lane Park

The Clubhouse

Rear of the Main Stand

The Near Side/Main Stand

The Near End

The Far Side

The Far End

The Near Side/Main Stand


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