Wolverhampton Sporting Community
The Cottage Ground

Ground No. 199 (return visit)
Visited - Tuesday 12th April 2011
Result - Wolverhampton Sporting Community 2-0 Lye Town
Competition - West Midlands Regional League, Premier Division
Attendance - 23 (h/c)

If you’re coming into Wolverhampton by train, then after leaving the station, you probably can’t help but notice the grand old Chubb’s building over on the right hand side when you walk over the footbridge. Chubb’s were a major lock producer in their heyday, although of course that day has gone the way that the rest of British industry has, sold off to foreign investors and downsized to the point of extinction, but in their time, they were once one of the largest employers in the area, and you’ll probably not have to speak to many around here to find somebody who once worked there (my Granddad for one!).

The building in Railway St though wasn’t their main production centre, that lay a mile or so to the east in Heath Town where the company had expanded to in 1908, eventually leaving the main building behind in the 1960s, with it lying empty until its renovation in the mid 90s into an office and entertainment complex, which includes a small cinema and a bar that used to have a good alternative music night on at one time. The site on Wednesfield Road eventually went the same way in 2000, albeit this time sold off for housing, which left the factory’s works team, Chubb Sports FC, in a quandary, their pitches having been part of the site. As a result, they decided on rebranding themselves, adopting the name ‘Heath Town Rangers’ in 2001 and moving to the nearby Fallings Park, where they continued to play in the local Bilston League.

Entering the West Midlands Regional League in 2005, the club moved again, this time for ground grading reasons in 2006, to the Cottage Ground, home of Wednesfield FC, and on this move, they won back to back promotions in 2007 and 2008, to start the 08/09 season at the same level as their landlords, even being cheeky enough to finish ahead of them, one point better off in 8th place! The 2009/10 season though had been less successful, finishing 20th (from 21), so they were looking to improve themselves for the following year, but for some reason they decided to do this by once more changing their name, this time to ‘Wolverhampton Sporting Community’. According to the programme, it’s because “we have achieved what we set out to achieve under the name Heath Town Rangers and for us to push further up the footballing ladder we needed to change our name”. OK then.

I’d seen Rangers play on several occasions, including their youth team after going to visit Wednesfield, only to find that they’d played 24 hours earlier. That was my first visit to the Cottage Ground, but as part of completing the WMRL, then I wanted to get back, not just for Wednesfield themselves, but for Heath Town’s senior side as well, the rebranding being even more of a reason.

Living only a few miles away, then I’d decided to wait until the latter part of the season for when the nights were lighter to tick it off, and had chosen the game against Lye Town to visit, heading over after work with no problems at all.

The ground is situated just outside Wednesfield town centre, sometimes known as Amos Lane, after the name of the road it stands on. The landlords have played here since 1971, and after arriving, you can tell straight away that it’s their ground as opposed Heath Town’s, with WFC emblazoned across the front gates. From here, a dusty driveway continues down one side of the ground, past the rear of the Main Stand and all the way to the far end where the dressing rooms and clubhouse stand in one corner. The near end has a small training pitch behind the goal, with hard standing running around all three sides, notably hemmed in on the far side with the backs of neighbouring houses visible through a chain fence, whilst the Main Stand sits in the centre of the near side. Whilst perhaps in need of a bit of TLC, it does still look imposing, with a deep cavernous roof providing the only shelter at the ground, with six rows of bench seating underneath spread out with two benches on each row, the steps being notably deep. Like with the stand, from the outside, the clubhouse looks like it could do with a coat of paint and a bit of a tidy up, but inside it’s deceptively big, with a number of people having gathered to watch the Champions League game between Man Utd and Chelsea as opposed the real football on outside, the club presumably being happy enough to take the revenue either way, which perhaps explained why instead of paying at the entrance, instead gate money was collected by two officials walking around the pitch halfway through the first half, something I’ve not experienced at this level before.

Having had a pint, and a read of the programme, it was soon time for kick off, and fortunately, despite the temperature dropping later on, the weather had stayed dry, which was a good thing, with the stand out of bounds to most spectators, thanks to a group of local chavs taking up residence there, as with last time, leading me to choose to stand on the opposite side of the pitch, close to the visiting dugouts.

Despite the name change, Heath Town Wolverhampton Sporting Community hadn’t faired much better than the previous season, still lying second bottom, an improved position of 19th place masking the fact that the league was running one short since the sad demise of Ledbury Town at the beginning of the year. The visitors, Lye, in comparison were steadily mid-table in 9th place, both teams looking for a result, having both lost at the weekend.

Whilst there are many good things about non-league football, the one thing that is sad to see is how disrespectfully officials get treated, worse than in the Premier League in my opinion, and any respect I had for Lye Town beforehand (it wasn't much in fairness!) was soon lost listening to the abuse that their bench and players gave to the linesman on the side I was standing. From the first minute he was constantly hassled, to the point that he clearly didn't want to run in front of the bench such was the stick he was getting, seemingly just for the sake of it to begin with.

Anyway, the first half was terminal, both sides showing why they are in the position that they are, and the second half could barely be described as any better. The linesman ended up getting even more abuse when the home side took the lead with a horrifically blatant offside goal on the hour mark, Sporting's number 10, Alex Hyde, breaking free (he looked offside himself), before playing the ball forward to their other striker, Wayne Thompson, who tapped in. Both players and a third sporting attacker were a good five yards ahead of the last defender at the time, and there was no doubt that the ball had gone forward. No flag and cue more abuse for the next 10 minutes from the Lye players and management. Why the ref didn't over-rule it himself seemed odd given how obvious to everyone it was. Despite over half an hour remaining, the visitors seemed more intent on remonstrating with the officials as opposed going in search of an equaliser, never really breaking down the home defence, and Sporting added a second in injury time to wrap the game up, a good goal from substitute Jermaine Bowen, who got on the end of a long ball to turn his marker and slot home past the keeper for 2-0 and a deserved win for the hosts.

After leaving, I made my way back home with no problems, glad to have ticked the ground off for one of the sides that play here. When they won the league in 1995/96, Wednesfield were denied promotion to the Midland Alliance because of the ground failing the grading. Apparently they must have made some improvements come the following season when they once again won the league and were that time promoted, but it’s difficult to imagine what they did really! It’s not an awful ground in fairness, but if it does need one thing then it’s a bit of a clean up and a coat of paint. If as  the programme seems to suggest, and Sporting Community want to continue their improvement and move up the pyramid, you’d assume that they would either have to move, or stump up some money themselves. It’s not clear whether a ground of their own forms part of their ambitions, but one thing that was a bit disappointing to see was that even allowing for the fact that they’re only tenants here, there was absolutely no signage for them. Even something just to say that this is where they play would be a welcome addition, but given that they haven’t managed to change the name of their website url from Heath Town Rangers, then maybe it’s not wise to hold your breath waiting for that to happen!

Entrance to the Ground

The Near End

The Far Side

Home Dugout

The Far End

The Main Stand

The Near Side

Rear of the Main Stand

Seating in the Main Stand

The Clubhouse

Ready for Kick Off

The Cottage Ground Panoramic



  1. I think that it is quite good that it is open and you are pretty close to the field like perhead costa rica grounds are.

  2. please come and see are new home, hazel lane, great wryley, ws6 6aa