Hednesford Town F.C.
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|Full name||Hednesford Town Football Club|
|League||Northern Premier League Premier Division|
|2016–17||Northern Premier League Premier Division, 15/24|
||This article or section appears to be slanted towards recent events. (September 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
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. The team gained promotion to the Southern League Premier Division, after finishing the 1991–92 season as runners-up to Solihull Borough. In the same season the "Pitmen" lost 1–0 to Cardiff City in the final of the Welsh Cup. The following season they 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. The Pitmen finished their first Conference season in third place behind champions Stevenage Borough and Woking. The 1996–97 season saw the Pitmen reach the first round of the FA Cup for the first time in 72 years, eventually losing in the fourth round to Middlesbrough, in front of 27,500 supporters.
The following season the Pitmen beat Hull City 2–0 at Boothferry Park in the first round of the FA Cup but in the second round Hednesford 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 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 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, to be replaced by 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 player Steve Anthrobus, was appointed manager but he was unable to save the club from relegation. They were subsequently placed in the Northern Premier League.
On 21 May 2008, the club confirmed that they had parted company with Phil Starbuck, who had served as manager since 2006, to be replaced by Dean Edwards. A great start to the 2008–09 season saw the Pitmen hit top spot in the league, with a 7–2 win over Worksop Town on Boxing Day the high point. After the turn of the year, however, 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, but Kendal Town snatched the final play-off spot, leaving Hednesford with a fourth successive season at step three, for which the club returned to the Southern League Premier Division due to re-structuring. 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. Simon Line, previously of Market Drayton Town took over as manager, but only held the post until January 2010 when he resigned, citing personal reasons, and was replaced by Bernard McNally. 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.
After a mixed start to the 2010–11 season that found the Pitmen again having much greater away form than at home, McNally left the club to be replaced by Rob Smith.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) and a 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, 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 back to the Northern Premier League Premier Division for the 2011-12 season, and 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.
The following season, Hednesford clinched a second-placed finish and playoff berth, narrowly missing out on automatic promotion on goal difference to North Ferriby United. 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 FC United of Manchester, a team that were playing in their 3rd successive playoff final. Hednesford were victorious 2–1, in front of a record crowd of 4,412 at Keys Park, ensuring that the Pitmen would play their football in the Conference North in 2013–14. Hednesford finished fourth in their first season at this level and qualified for the play-offs where they faced Altrincham in a two-legged semi-final. The first leg at Keys park finished 2–2 but Hednesford lost the second leg 2–1 away. Hednesford suffered a set back early on in the 2015-16 season when manager Rob Smith left the club to return to AFC Telford United. Chris Brindley took temporary charge until the club appointed former manager Bernard McNally, however his 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 City 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 the club again in April after a 1–0 home defeat to Worcester City with relegation looking inevitable. Despite a 2–1 away win at league champions Solihull Moors relegation was confirmed with two games remaining.
Hednesford play in the Northern Premier League Premier Division in the 2016–17 season. Liam McDonald was announced as the club's new manager in May 2016, having left Redditch United. After six months in charge, McDonald moved two leagues higher to take charge of Solihull Moors. Paul Casey was named as his replacement in November 2016. In February 2017, Casey resigned and his assistant Gary Birch took over as caretaker manager, going on to be appointed permanent manager of the club the following month.
Gary Birch resigned as manager on 5 May 2017, leaving to take over at Walsall Wood FC. Neil Tooth was appointed on 8 May as manager ahead of the 2017/2018 season.
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 9 May 2017 - awaiting updates for 2017/2018 season
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 1962-63, 1983–84
- Birmingham Combination
- Champions 1909–10, 1950–51
- Runners-up 1912–13, 1952–53
- Birmingham League
- Champions 1940–41
- Welsh 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
- 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"
- 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