Flowserve step into the unknown

NEWARK FLOWSERVE will be taking on the likes of Worcester City and Gresley when the town gets its first taste of step five football next season.

The Highwaymen face some challenging journies after being placed in the Midland Football League Premier Division (MLP) where they will also face Walsall Wood, Sam Agar’s former club, and renew old rivalries with Selston, who pipped the men in orange to the East Midlands Counties League title last season.

Over the next couple of days the club’s communications officer Tony Smith will take a look at our league opponents for the forthcoming campaign, when the club will also be playing in the FA Vase for the first time.

AFC WULFRUNIANS

 

Red/black/red

 

AFC Wulfrunians is a football club based in Castlecroft in Wolverhampton, and they play at Castlecroft Stadium.

The stadium was originally built in the 1950s by Wolverhampton Wanderers as a training ground. In the 1990s, it was bought by the Rugby Football Union to be used as a schools’ and referees’ training centre and regional headquarters. The Wulfs, who finished 12th in the MLP last season, are now leaseholders of the ground after buying the lease from the RFU.

 

BOLDMERE ST MICHAELS

 

White/black/black and white hooped socks

 

Boldmere St. Michaels are based in Boldmere in Sutton Coldfield, and have worked their way up through the Birmingham Leagues. They finished fifth in the MLP last term.

The Mikes were established in 1883 as a youth football team attached to the local church, and play at the 2,500-capacity Trevor Brown Memorial Ground, named after a former chairman.

The club reached the semi-finals of the FA Amateur Cup in the 1947-48 season.

COVENTRY SPHINX

 

Sky blue and white stripes/dark blue/dark blue

 

Coventry Sphinx Football Club are based in Coventry in the West Midlands and play at Sphinx Park.

The Sphinx reached the quarter-finals of the FA Vase in 2008 and finished ninth in the MLP last season.

COVENTRY UNITED

 

Red/green/green

 

The Coventry United club was formed just six years ago following a takeover of Coventry Spartans in reaction to the league side Coventry City moving from the Ricoh Arena to Northampton Town to play at the Cobblers’ Sixfields Stadium.

The Red and Greens play at the 4,000-capacity (3,000 seated) Butts Park Arena where they groundshare with Coventry Rugby Club, and finished eighth in the MLP last term.

GRESLEY

 

Red with whites sleeves/red/red

 

Gresley were formed as Gresley Rovers in 1882 in the small mining village of Church Gresley, near Swadlincote in Derbyshire, and they have had a proud history since then.

In 1991 they played at Wembley in the final of the FA Vase, drawing 4-4 with Guiseley before losing to the Yorkshire side in a replay at Bramhall Lane, and the Moatmen also boast Paul Futcher and Garry Birtles among their former managers.

They have played at the 2,400-capacity Moat Ground since 1908 but this time round it will be hosting MLP football after the club finished bottom of the Evostik Northern Premier East Division last season and were demoted from step four football.

HAUGHMOND

 

White/black/black

 

Haughmond Football Club were formed in 1980 and are based in Shrewsbury, playing at Shrewsbury Sports Village.

The Mond finished bottom of the Midland Football League Premier Division two seasons ago, but bounced straight back to step five football after finishing runners-up to Tividale in the West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division last term.

HEATHER ST JOHN’S

 

Blue/blue/blue

 

Heather St John’s are based in the village of Heather in Leicestershire, and were formed in 1949, with the name taken from a local church.

The Saints originally played at Swepstone Road. When they were unable to upgrade the council-owned ground, the club bought a field on Ravenstone Road in September 1993 which was turned into St John’s Park. A seated stand was built on one side of the pitch and floodlights were erected in February 1997, inaugurated with a friendly match against Leicester City.

Last season the club won the Leicestershire and Rutland Senior Cup for a third time, beating Melton Town penalties. They went on to add the Midland League Division One title, earning promotion to the Premier Division.

LONG EATON UNITED

 

Sky blue with dark blue trim/sky blue/sky blue

 

Long Eaton United’s greatest claim to fame is that Elliot King used to play for them. Oh, and some bloke called Garry Birtles.

The Blues are based in Long Eaton in Derbyshire, and play at the 1,500-capacity Grange Park which has 450 seats.

Long Eaton won the Northern Counties East Division One South title in their 1984-85 campaign, but last season they finished sixth off the bottom of the MLP.

LYE TOWN

 

Blue with white sleeves/blue/blue

 

Lye Town Football Club are based in the Black Country town of Lye in Stourbridge and play at The Sports Ground.

The Flyers finished tenth in the MLP last season, winning 14 and losing 14, they share their ground with the local cricket club, with a temporary rail erected on the northern side of the pitch during the football season.

A seated stand was built at the Stourbridge Road end after World War Two, and the seats were moved into the new stand on the southern side of the pitch in 1971. A covered standing area with a barrel roof was also built behind one goal.

 

RACING CLUB WARWICK

 

Yellow/black/black

 

Racing Club Warwick Football Club are based in Warwick in Warwickshire, and play at the 1,280-capacity Townsend Meadow.

The Racers were formed in 1919 under the name of Saltisford Rovers, but in 1970 they changed to their current name, which came from the fact that their ground is close to Warwick Racecourse.

Last season they gained promotion for the first time in 30 years when they finished runners-up in Midland League Division One.

ROMULUS

 

Red and white stripes/red/red

 

Romulus Football Club are based in Castle Vale in Birmingham and play at the 2,500-capacity Castle Vale Stadium, returning there last season after groundsharing with Sutton Coldfield Town.

The Roms played in the Northern Premier League Division One South for eight years before being relegated to the MPL last season where their struggles continued as they finished in the bottom four.

 

SELSTON

 

No introduction needed for our old chums, with 673 cramming into Lowfields last Christmas.

 

SOUTH NORMANTON ATHLETIC

 

Blue/white/blue

 

South Normanton Athletic Football Club are based in South Normanton, near Alfreton, in Derbyshire, and play at the 3,000-capacity Lees Lane, which has 300 seats.

Their nickname ‘Shiners’ derives from the mid-1750s when South Normanton was at the heart of the ribbed stocking industry. The people involved in this craft worked long hours sitting at their windows on wooden stools – so much so that the backsides of their trousers became very shiny making them instantly recognisable as coming from the South Normanton area; since then local people have been referred to as ‘Shiners’.

The team, who include former Forest man Marcus Tudgay among their ranks, finished fourth from bottom in the MPL last time out.

 

SPORTING KHALSA

 

Yellow/blue/blue

 

Sporting Khalsa Football, formed in 1991, play their home games at the 2,500-capacity Aspray Arena in Willenhall in the West Midlands. Founded by the local Sikh community, they are the first British Asian club to own their own ground, which they bought from Willenhall Town in 2010 after moving from Abbey Park, the former home of Bloxwich Town.

In 2015-16 they reached the Fourth Qualifying round of the FA Cup where they lost 3-1 at home to FC United of Manchester in front of a record crowd of 2,252. The following season The Lions made it to the quarter-finals of the FA Vase before bowing out to fellow Midland Football League side Coleshill.

Last season they finished in third spot in the MPL, albeit 12 points adrift of top dogs Ilkeston Town and Walsall Wood, with the former clinching the title on goal difference and earning promotion to the Northern Premier League South East Division.

 

STOURPORT SWIFTS

 

Yellow and black halves/black/yellow

 

Stourport Swifts Football Club are from Stourport-on-Severn near Kidderminster, and are one of the oldest non-league teams in the country, having been formed in 1882.

The Swifts play at the 2,000-capacity (250 seated) Walshes Meadow, and they finished in 13th spot in the MPL last season.

 

TIVIDALE

 

Yellow/blue/yellow

 

Tividale Football Club are based in Tividale near Dudley in the West Midlands, and reached the Fifth Round of the FA Vase in in 2012.

Before that they featured as the starting point in the excellent best-selling book, Journey to Wembley by Brian James, which to;d the story of the FA Cup in the 1976–77 season. Tividale were the primary subject of a book that began at the club and then focused on their progress through the competition until they were eliminated, the focus then shifting to the club that defeated them and so on till it ended with the eventual winners.

The Dale were relegated from the Northern Premier Division Division One South at the end of the 2015–16 season, and last term their title win in the West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division saw them start the climb back.

 

WALSALL WOOD

 

Red/red/white

 

Sam Agar’s former club are based near Walsall in the West Midlands, and just missed out on first time promotion last season after arriving in the MPL their elevation from Midland League Division One.

The team play their home games at the 1,000-capacity Oak Park (Boston Bailey Group Ground) and are nicknamed The Wood. The Oak Park ground boasts a stand which dates from the 1930s, which the club claim is the only surviving stand of its type in England.

The club was formed in the early part of the 20th century, although the exact date is unknown, with the earliest surviving records being from 1915. The club’s delightful original name was Walsall Wood Ebenezer Primitive Methodists, stemming from its affiliation with a local Methodist chapel.

 

WORCESTER CITY

 

Blue and white stripes/blue/blue

 

To say that Worcester City finished in 11th place in the MLP last season doesn’t really do the club’s history justice.

A more accurate reflection of the club would be to say that their highest attendance is 17,042 for an FA Cup Fourth Round match against Sheffield United on January 24, 1959, and that their highest transfer fee received is £27,500 for Everton for John Barton in 1979.

Two years ago they were in the National League North, but they now groundshare with Bromsgrove Sporting at their 3,500-capacity Victoria Ground after financial problems caused a rapid demise in their fortunes.