Back At The Grove

At Halesowen Town’s ground The Grove you can still see where the top of a grassy bank at the far end marks the level of the pitch before it was lowered and levelled in 1986.  It had a hell of a slope in the old days. No wonder the team were virtually invincible at home. The problem was that the slope barred the club’s way to promotion so it had to go. The huge amount of soil that was removed in levelling the pitch was used to build a terraced bank along the eastern side of the ground. The construction of the bank and the lowering of the pitch gave the ground an enclosed cockpit-like feel. You are everywhere close to the play and have a good view. I was reminded today of how much I used to like this ground. It seemed a perfect venue for a local derby in the FA Cup,  for a game of cut and thrust, of twists and turns, a game that even merited a full preview in the Birmingham Mail.

As a neutral I was a little disappointed. 5-0 to Halesowen it finished and that was a fair scoreline. It could have been more. A stroll in the autumn sun? Not really, that would be unfair to Tipton who didn’t play simply because Halesowen didn’t let them. The Yeltz pressed, tackled, denied Tipton sustained possession, and, as the cliche has it, earned the right to play. This was a potentially difficult game and Halesowen’s performance correspondingly impressive. Having earned the right to play they did, and some of their attacking was a joy to watch.

After early pressure and missed chances Tipton’s number 5 opened the scoring with a superb looping header into the top corner from a long throw. Unfortunately he scored at the wrong end.  Before half time the Yeltz added a second. After the break Halesowen’s number 10, a player I think called Haseley, who had earlier missed a hat trick’s worth of easy chances scored a hat trick,. the second goal of which was a wonderful chipped volley from thirty yards out, as good a goal as I have seen at semi-professional level for many years, His third and Halesowen’s fifth was from a tap-in in injury time. By this time many spectators had lost interest and turned to their phones to catch up on the extraordinary happenings at Villa Park and Old Trafford.

I will, no doubt, be back. The football was good, the number 9 bus from Bearwood stops just over the road and there’s a real ale pub next to the ground. What’s not to like?

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