Hednesford Town F.C.
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|Full name||Hednesford Town Football Club|
|League||Northern Premier League Premier Division|
|2015–16||National League North, 21st (Relegated)|
- 1 History
- 2 Stadia
- 3 Players
- 4 Honours
- 5 Other Honours
- 6 Records
- 7 Former players
- 8 External links
- 9 References
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The club was formed in 1880 by the merger of two leading Hednesford clubs, the Red & Whites and Hill Top, and after many years in local competitions joined the Southern League in 1984.
It was not until January 1990 that the club's fortunes turned for the better. The 1989–90 season had been a long hard struggle and, at the beginning of the year, the club were in a deep relegation battle and with attendances below 300, relegation from The Southern League Midland Division looked a distinct possibility. In an effort to avoid relegation the club appointed former goalkeeper, John Baldwin, as manager and he gradually began to turn the club around and relegation was avoided.
The following season the team finished third and thus gained promotion to the Southern League Premier Division, after finishing the 1991–92 season as runners-up to Solihull Borough. The club, also in the 1991–92 season, lost 1–0 to Cardiff City, in the final of the Welsh Cup.
In the first season in the Premier Division the Pitmen finished in fourth position and reached the Staffordshire Senior Cup Final losing to Stoke City over two legs. The 1993–94 season saw the club reach a cup final for the third year running. This time it was The Birmingham Senior Cup Final where, at The Bescot Stadium, the club were beaten 3–0 by a full strength Walsall team.
The 1994–95 season saw the club crowned Premier Division champions with the team defeating Leek Town in front of 2776 supporters at The Cross Keys to clinch the title and promotion to the Football Conference.
In 1995–96 the Pitmen commenced their first season in The Conference at their new Keys Park home and in the club's first season in the top flight of non-league football they finished in third place behind champions Stevenage Borough and Woking.
The following season saw the club finish in seventh position and further FA Cup success was enjoyed as, in front of millions of Match of the Day viewers, the Pitmen beat Hull City 2–0 at Boothferry Park but in the second round lost to Darlington.
In the 1998–99 season the club reached the first round of the FA Cup for the third season running. This time the team beat Barnet 3–1 in the first round but lost by the same scoreline away at Cardiff City in the next round. League success did not follow the fine cup runs and the 1999–2000 season saw the team drop to 17th position then, after John Baldwin had stepped down during December 2000, the club were relegated for the first time in their history. A succession of managers were appointed to replace John Baldwin including Neil Pointon, Colin Lambert, Paul Raynor, Kenny Hibbitt and Ian Painter.
The club also won the 2004 FA Trophy, beating Canvey Island 3–2 with the goals coming from Anthony Maguire, Les Hines and a late winner by then assistant manager Chris Brindley. Despite winning a major piece of silverware, Manager Barry Powell was sacked after a poor league showing ended with them failing to qualify for the newly created Conference North and Powell was replaced by fans favourite Chris Brindley.
In his first season in management, Brindley took Hednesford to the playoffs and after beating Merthyr Tydfil on penalties in the semi, and Chippenham Town in the final 1–0, Hednesford were promoted to the Conference North.
The 2005–06 season saw the Pitmen again reach the first round of the FA Cup but the team were defeated 4–0 away at Histon. The team continued to leak goals and, as a result of a number of poor results and the team sinking to the bottom end of the Conference North, Chris Brindley left the club by mutual consent in early December 2005. Brindley’s assistant manager, former Wimbledon star, Steve Anthrobus, was appointed Manager but he was unable to save the club from relegation, after playing out a 0–0 draw at Vauxhall Motors. They were subsequently placed in the Northern Premier League, their first foray into Northern League football.
Former Nottingham Forest player, Phil Starbuck, was appointed manager in July 2006 and despite challenging near the top of the table for the majority of 2006–07 season, a slump in form after Christmas saw the team eventually finish in 7th position.
The 2007–08 season saw the Pitmen start well, but a run of inconsistent form saw them finish outside the play-off places again, finishing eighth.
There was a strong possibility of Hednesford moving back to the Southern League Premier Division for the 2008–09 season, but Halifax Town's financial problems saw a number of non-league sides revived, leaving the Pitmen with the prospect of Northern Premier League football for the forthcoming campaign.
On 21 May 2008, the club confirmed that they had parted company with manager Phil Starbuck and that former Wolverhampton Wanderers, Exeter City and Torquay United player Dean Edwards, had been appointed as Starbuck's successor working alongside Stephen Price, the club's chairman. After a busy first few days, Edwards brought in a succession of new players, and also named his former Torquay team-mate Matt Elliott as the club's new assistant manager.
A great start to the 2008–09 season saw the Pitmen hit top spot in the league, playing neat, attractive football. A young, locally based side enjoyed the status as favourites for the title, with a 7–2 win over Worksop Town on Boxing Day the high point. Since the turn of the year, Hednesford's form dipped, although they enjoyed a good run in the FA Trophy. A topsy-turvy final month of the campaign saw the Pitmen remain in contention for a play-off place, relying on a fine run of wins away from home to conteract a dismal run of form at Keys Park, which saw poor defeats to relegation-haunted Whitby Town, Boston United and Leigh Genesis in sequence. However, Kendal Town snatched the final play-off spot, leaving Hednesford with a fourth successive season at step three.
News arrived at Hednesford on 29 May 2009 that the Pitmen had been moved by the FA to their former stamping ground, the Southern League Premier Division, for the 2009–10 season, after a number of clubs were 'shunted' around the leagues to allow for re-structuring. This saw a return to local derbies for the club in 2009–10, with Nuneaton Town, Halesowen Town, Stourbridge, Rugby Town, Leamington and Evesham United all lining up against the Pitmen in the Southern League. Off the field, Matt Elliott stepped down as assistant manager of the club to concentrate on other business interests, with Edwards moving swiftly to sign Macclesfield Town defender Richard Walker as the club's new player/coach. On 15 September 2009 Edwards was relieved of his managerial duties following a disappointing start to the season, culminating in a 4–1 home defeat to Pegasus Juniors of the Hellenic League Premier Division, 2 divisions below the Pitmen. Former Northern Ireland international and AFC Telford United manager Bernard McNally was appointed caretaker manager while the club searched for a new manager. The club released a statement on Thursday 8 October 2009 that Simon Line, previously of Market Drayton Town, had accepted the manager's job at Keys Park, with Delwyn Humphreys as his assistant manager and Paul Mellings coming in as goalkeeping coach.
The club announced on Thursday 14 January 2010 that Simon Line had resigned from his managerial position at the club, citing personal reasons. His replacement, former Hednesford player, Bernard McNally was appointed as the new manager on Monday 25 January with Delwyn Humphreys remaining as his assistant. Under McNally's management the club finished the end of the 2009–10 season in 4th place in the Southern League Premier Division. By finishing 4th the club qualified for the play-offs but, after a hectic end of season schedule due to postponed games throughout the winter months, ended up losing 2–0 away to Chippenham Town in the semi-finals. In May 2010, it was announced that Delwyn Humphreys had left his position as assistant manager and replaced by goalkeeper Stuart Brock.
The middle of 2010 saw a complete change in the playing department with both of the lethal strikeforce that turned the previous season moving on to higher levels. Macclesfield Town snapped up Tyrone Barnett while Ross Dyer signed for Forest Green Rovers, joining up with another ex-Pitman in Reece Styche.
After a mixed start to the 2010–11 season that found the Pitmen again having much greater away form than at home, on Sunday 19 September 2010 the club announced it had "parted company" with manager Bernard McNally and a successor was being sought. That replacement would turn out to be Rob Smith and he was announced as manager of the club on Monday 27 September 2010 with Larry Chambers as his assistant, the duo having previously earned league promotion success with AFC Telford United.
This appointment triggered an upturn in the team's on field success with the Pitmen forcing themselves into the promotion race with a run of form breaking a number of club records including:
- A goalscoring run of 32 league games (5 October 2010 to 2 May 2011)
- A winning run of 9 (19 February 2011 to 26 March 2011)
- Highest ever league victory with a 9–0 home win over Weymouth(23 October 2010).
The post-Christmas league form continued in the cup competitions with the club winning the Southern League Cup beating Hemel Hempstead Town over 2 legs, 5–1 on aggregate. The team followed up the cup success by qualifying for the playoffs after finishing the league season in 2nd position behind champions Truro City. This gave the Pitmen home advantage in the semi-final against Leamington, a game they won 3–1 to progress to the playoff final (again at Keys Park) against 3rd-place finishers Salisbury City. However, the season was to end with heartbreak for the Pitmen, after a 1–1 draw in the 90 mins and Danny Quinn putting them back into the lead, Salisbury equalised with the last kick of extra time before winning the game on penalties.
Hednesford were transferred to the Northern Premier League Premier Division for this season, seeing a number of local derbies return to the fixture list. A consistent start to campaign saw the Pitmen sitting in the top four for the majority of the season, with a number of memorable game to look back on: a 5–4 win over local rivals Stafford Rangers, a remarkable 6–5 win over a strong Walsall side and a 2–1 win at league leaders Chester.
The Pitmen's strong home form deserted them from December however, failing to win again at home for the remainder of the season. Hednesford finished the league in 5th position, but nominally in 4th due to Northwich Victoria's expulsion from both the playoffs and league itself. Hednesford were beaten at Bradford Park Avenue 5–0 in the playoff semi-final on 28 April.
Hednesford were promoted from the Northern Premier League to the Conference North during the 2012–2013. During this season they also won the Staffordshire Senior Cup and the Birmingham Senior Cup. The summer of 2012 saw a rebuild at Keys Park, with a number of the squad that had been together for the previous two campaigns being moved on. Linchpins in Chey Dunkley and Chris Clements saw their talents rewarded with moves up to the top-tier of non-league football (Kidderminster Harriers and Mansfield Town respectively). This triggered a near complete overhaul of the playing squad with 5 players that ended the 2011–12 season remaining at the club at the start of the new campaign.
Despite this the Pitmen started the season brightly, with an 8-game unbeaten run that was ultimately ended in some style in a 4–0 defeat to Worksop Town at Keys Park.
The Pitmen eventually had to settle for a second-placed finish and playoff berth, narrowly missing out on automatic promotion on goal difference to North Ferriby Utd. In the semi-final of the playoffs, they were drawn against AFC Fylde, a team they beat 2–1 on the final day of the regular season. After 6 goals and 120 minutes, the game went to penalties, with Hednesford prevailing 3–1. In the final, they faced F.C. United of Manchester, a team that were playing in their 3rd successive playoff final and are rivals of the Pitmen. Hednesford were victorious 2–1, in front of a record crowd of 4,412 at Keys Park, ensuring that the Pitmen will play their football in the Conference North in 2013–14.
Hednesford finished fourth in the conference north and qualified for the play-offs where they faced Altrincham fc in a 2 legged semi-final. The first leg at Keys park finished 2–2 but Hednesford lost the second leg 2–1 away. Hednesford also reach the FA Cup 1st round proper where they were beaten 2–1 by league one side Crawley Town at Keys park.
On 3rd March 2015 Hednesford beat AFC Fylde 2-0 at Keys park and looked likely to finish in a play-off position. However just 2 points from the final eight games saw the pitmen finish the season in a disappointing 8th place.
Hednesford suffered a set back early on in the season when manager Rob Smith and his assistant Larry Chambers left the club to return to AFC Telford United. Chris Brindley took temporary charge until the club appointed former manager Bernard McNally. However McNally's second spell at the club was short lived and he was later sacked after just one league victory. The next manager to be appointed was former Chelsea and Leicester player Frank Sinclair. After a 3-0 defeat at Stockport County in early March Sinclair offered his resignation which was accepted by the club only for him to be reinstated as manager two days later. Sinclair left club again in April after a 1-0 home defeat to Worcester and relegation looking inevitable. Despite a 2-1 away win at league champions Solihull Moors relegation was confirmed with 2 games remaining.
Hednesford will play in the Evo-Stick Northern League Premier Division in the 2016-2017 season. Liam McDonald was announced as the club's new manager on 9 May 2016, having left Redditch United FC.
The Tins (1880–1903)
The club originally played at a ground called The 'Tins', a patch of land directly behind the Anglesey Hotel in Hednesford Town Centre. It was called the 'Tins' due to large number of metal sheeting that was erected around the ground. A move to the Cross Keys occurred in 1903 after the club fell into debt to the tune of £40 (approx. £3800 – 2010). A local councillor agreed to meet the deficit provided the club moved to a patch of land behind the Cross Keys public house and away from the Anglesey
The Cross Keys (1903–95)
The Cross Keys was a perfect arena for a club of Hednesford's size for many decades. A large wooden stand stood on the site for many years, with a large bank opposite holding over fifty spectators. Only the arrival of the fifties, and floodlit football, saw changes at the ground. The banking made way for a large stand along the whole side of the ground, followed by floodlights that were erected in 1953. A friendly against West Bromwich Albion visited the Cross Keys to mark the official switch-on, watched by over 7,000 people
As the club rose from the local leagues to the higher reaches of the football pyramid, the ground was never improved. Once the club arrived in the Southern League in the early nineties, a decision was taken to move away from the beloved Cross Keys, now with a capacity of 4,000, but crumbling with every season. In 1994, the club started work on a new stadium, on the site of an old brickworks snapped up just 300 yards away from the Cross Keys
Keys Park (1995–present)
Keys Park is situated on Keys Park Road a couple of minutes drive from Hednesford town centre, and is a purpose-built stadium. The stadium was due to be completed during the summer of 1995, with the cost at £1.3 million and was first used in a friendly against Walsall. Keys Park was officially opened by Sir Stanley Matthews later that year in a ceremony that included a friendly against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
In January 1997, Keys Park saw its highest attendance ever as over 3,200 people witnessed the Pitmen's 1–0 win over York City in the FA Cup Third Round. During the following season the Heath Hayes End was converted into a 1,000 capacity open terrace, whilst the Wimblebury side was turned into a large uncovered terrace and seating was installed at the previously terraced Hednesford End. Despite relegation from the Football Conference in 2001, the club proceeded with plans to make the stadium covered on all four sides, and installed roofs on each of the uncovered terraces. After being an 'A' graded stadium by The Football Association for a number of years, Keys Park has been downgraded to a 'B' grade stadium
Its highest league attendances were set against the same club – Telford United. 2,480 squeezed into Keys Park in September 1995 for a Football Conference game, which the Pitmen won 4–0. In January 2007, the newly reformed AFC Telford visited in a Northern Premier League game, which attracted 3,005 supporters. Telford won 1–0 on this occasion.
This record stood until the Northern Premier League Play-Off Final between Hednesford and FC United of Manchester on 11 May 2013 saw a record crowd of 4412 people watch the Pitmen win 2–1 and promotion to the Conference North.
Current first team squad
- As of 4 June 2016
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
- FA Trophy
- Winners 2003–04
- Northern Premier League Premier Division
- Runners-Up 2012–13
- Play-Off Winners 2012–13
- Southern League Premier Division
- Southern League Midland Division
- Runners-up 1992–93
- Southern League Cup
- Winners 2010–11
- Finalists 1986–87
- Southern League Championship Trophy
- Winners 1995
- Runners Up 2011
- Birmingham Senior Cup
- Winners 1935–36, 2008–09, 2012–2013
- Finalists 1993–94
- Staffordshire Senior Cup
- Winners 1897–98, 1969–70, 1973–74, 2012–13
- Finalists 1992–93
- West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division
- Champions 1977–78
- Runners-up 1983–84
- West Midlands (Regional) League Cup
- Winners 1962/1963, 1983–84
- Birmingham Combination
- Champions 1909–10, 1950–51
- Runners-up 1912–13, 1952–53
- Birmingham League
- Champions 1940–41
- Welsh FA Cup
- Finalists 1991–92
- Highest Football Conference finish
- 3rd place 1995–96
- Furthest progress in the FA Cup
- 4th Round 1996–97
- Most Post-War Appearances
- Kevin Foster (470)
- Most Post-War Goals
- Joe O'Connor (220)
- Record Transfer Fee Paid
- Record Transfer Fee Received
1. Players that have played/managed in the Football League or any foreign equivalent to this level (i.e. fully professional league).
2. Players with full international caps.
3. Players that hold a club record or have captained the club.
- Official website
- Hednesford Town F.C Supporter's Association
- The Pitmenweb – Unofficial Hednesford Town F.C. website
- HednesfordTown.com – the Hednesford Town statistics site
- Hednesford at the Football Club History Database
- Hednesford Town at the Football Club History Database
- Statto.com "Full League Sequences – w/o Failing To Score"
- Statto.com "Full League Sequences – Wins"
- Statto.com "Home League Scoring Records – Highest scoring win"