Blackwood 3 Archdale ’73 2

Wednesday 9th May 2012
Blackwood 3 Archdale ’73 2
Athium Midland Combination Division 1
At: Field Lane, Solihull
Kick-off: 7-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: none
Weather: rain
Attendance: 25 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 45:41; second-half: 46:19

Blackwood can now look forward to playing Midland Combination Premier Division football next season, groundsharing at Highgate United, as Division One champions after gaining more than the point they needed to take the title. After losing at Archdale on Saturday, a superb free-kick from former Stafford Rangers midfielder Chris Milliard calmed any Blackwood nerves this evening before goals in each half from Jacob Snape seemingly put the outcome beyond doubt in the return fixtures. However, a decent Archdale side didn’t give up and pulled two goals back before the end through Matt Tyler and central defender Richard Esp. This was Blackwood's final game at Hampton FC and one played mainly in rain on a heavy pitch.

I remember seeing Blackwood in December 2009 against Stratford Town ‘A’ on the artificial pitch at Knights Lane when just about all games on grass across the Midlands were frozen off. Blackwood won 5-1 that day and included three former Stafford Rangers fringe players in Richard Mills, Chris Milliard and Ross Clarke. More recently in April 2010, I also remember visiting tonight’s Field Lane venue to see Hampton host Feckenham.

Since that game at Stratford, Blackwood finished that 2010/11 season as Midland Combination Division Three Champions. Last season they won Division Two Championship and will finish this season at the top of Division One. According to their website, the club has now been promoted for six consecutive seasons.

The announcement of the new groundshare at Highgate was made at the beginning of last month on their website (

Blackwood On The Move

Blackwood FC are pleased announce they will be moving to a new home at Highgate United for the start of season 2012-2013. This move will enable the club to gain promotion to the Midland Combination Premier Division should we finish in the top two this term.

This announcement comes after several weeks and months of talks between representatives of both Highgate United and Blackwood FC and I would like to place on record my thanks to everyone involved in securing this move.

I would also like to thank Hampton FC for being such good hosts to Blackwood FC for the last six seasons. I for one know we will be leaving Field Lane in a much better condition than we found it.

The are several sports field in the Field Lane and Lugtrout Lane area, a few miles north-east of Solihull and a few miles south of Birmingham Airport. As well as Hampton Sports Club (where Blackwood play), there is also The Glades (previously used by West Midlands Fire Service and currently by FC Glades) and another complex on the opposite side of Field Lane (used by Coldlands Colts).

Hampton/Blackwood’s fully railed-off pitch was tucked into south-west corner on the other side of the clubhouse/changing room block in relation to the entrance. There was banking along the right-hand touchline with dugouts either side of the half-way line. There was also banking behind the far goal. Since my visit two years ago, two stands have been erected on either side of the dugouts but the gorse bush I photographed has been removed. There is also a second pitch next to the car park.

Second-placed Blackwood (68 points from 32 games, GD +24) were level with leaders Littleton (68 points from 34 games, GD +30) who had completed their fixtures. Visitors Archdale ’73 (49 point sfrom 32 games) were in ninth position.

I was joined by ‘Groundhopper Dave’ (wearing a St Neots Town hat) just before Blackwood (in blue and black stripes, black shorts and socks) got the game underway attacking the changing rooms end in the first half. We were soon joined by another Dave.

On a rain-soaked pitch, Archdale keeper Dean Smith produced a fine save in the 8th minute to tip over a rising 25-yard drive hit by Steve Bell.

Blackwood took the lead on the half-hour. Awarded a free-kick just outside the area for a foul on the lively Jacob Snape, captain Chris Milliard, once of Stafford Rangers, drove past the wall and straight into the bottom left corner of the net.

Snape was unlucky to be flagged offside when he got on the end of a pass from Chris Hill and fired past Smith.

Luck, however, was very much with Snape in the 41st minute when he looked offside as he latched onto another pass from Hill down the right. With no flag, the striker raced into the area, rounded Smith and slotted home.

We walked the first half under the cover nearest to the changing rooms and the goal that Blackwood were attacking. Expecting more goals, we moved up the touchline to the stand at the far end.

Blackwood added a third goal in the 72nd minute. Snape stayed onside as he ran down the left into the area, drew the keeper and fired home into an unguarded net.

With rain failing and light fading, Archdale pulled a goal back six minutes later. Matt Tyler, from out on the right, hit a cross-sum-shot which looped over goalkeeper Richard Mills into the far left side of the net.

With Blackwood told to “wake up again”, Archdale continued to press forward and a saving tackle from Nick Harris prevented Matt Hunt for getting a clear shot on goal.

Archdale scored again in the 89th minute. Damien Fearn delivered a right-wing corner to the far post where defender Richard Esp fired home at close range.

There wasn’t time left for Archdale to equalise, let along get another two goals to win the game, and Blackwood were left to celebrate another championship and promotion.

Blackwood (blue and black stripes / black / black): 1. Richard Mills, 2. Simon Hudson, 3. Nick Harris, 4. Wayne Hall, 5. Warren Grant, 6. Chris Hill, 7. Danny Hemmings, 8. Steve Bell, 9. Jacob Snape, 10. Chris Milliard (capt), 11. Shane Lucas. Subs: 12. Tony Clarke (for Hemmings, 76), 14. Nick John (for Lucas, 61), 15. Adam Tilsley (not used), 16. Ashley Griffiths (not used), 17. Lee Thorpe (not used).

Archdale ’73 (white/white/white): 1. Dean Smith, 2. Mark Saycell, 3. Adam Granger, 4. Wayne Lloyd, 5. Richard Esp, 6. Adam Price, 7. Matt Tyler, 8. Luke Williams, 9. Mike Chamber, 10. Mark Owen (capt), 11. Damien Fearn. Subs: 12. Matt Hunt (for Price, 67), 14. Elliot Dale (for Chamber, ht).

Referee: Mark Chester.
Assistants: Paul Sudbury and Matt Hull.

1-0 Chris Milliard (30)
2-0 Jacob Snape (41)
3-0 Jacob Snape (72)
3-1 Matt Tyler (78)
3-2 Richard Esp(89)