OUR thanks to Wombourne reader Andrew Hill for providing us with some Stourbridge FC yearbooks, from which we take the following round up of the 1974-75 season.
It was one of the Glassboys' best, as J.T. Foxall enthused in his report:
"What a fantastic season! That phrase has surely been on all Stourbridge supporters' lips during this last close season.
"Champions of the Southern League Division One (North), losing only two out of 42 league games, winners of the Merit Cup for the Southern League's highest goalscorers (103), and Welsh FA Cup finalists. All these honours were achieved by the Glassboys.
"Our league programme opened with away fixtures at Kidderminster and Gloucester where a 1-1 draw was the result in each game. A 4-1 reversal at Grantham meant goodbye to the League Cup for us, for although we drew 2-2 with them in the second leg at Amblecote we were eliminated on a 6-3 aggregate. A 3-1 win at Stevenage marked our first away win of the season, and also brought 'Mush' Davies his first goal for the club."
Stour disposed of local rivals Kidderminster in their first tie of the Welsh Cup, with both Hinckley and Bedworth being despatched in the FA Cup, until the sloping pitch at Alvechurch proved too much of a disadvantage for the Glassboys and sent them out of the latter contest.
That setback didn't affect their progress in the other competitions though. They knocked both Bridgnorth and Haverfordwest (6-0) out of the Welsh Cup, and then scored nine goals in two league games; 3-1 at Leamington and crushing promotion contenders Banbury 6-0.
But better was to come, with a fully-fledged league scalp.
"It is December 15 which sticks in a lot of Stourbridge memories," writes J.T. Foxall, "for on this date we travelled to Fourth Division Swansea City and ousted them from the Welsh Cup with two fine goals from Chick Bates. It was the first time in their ninety-six year history that Stourbridge had played a League club in a competition, and they won at their first attempt."
After an unbeaten league run came to an end on New Year's Day 1974, Stourbridge bounced back with a 5-0 thrashing of Bedworth, who were on the end of a Chick Bates hat-trick a week later in the FA Trophy. It took Premier side Bedford to knock them out in the next round.
But in the Welsh Cup there was even better to come. After losing an early lead to Third Division Wrexham, Stourbridge pulled back to 2-1 and booked themselves a place in the final against Cardiff City. Promotion from the Southern League Division One was assured just four days before the first leg, for which over 5,000 turned out at the Amblecote ground. After throwing everything at the Welsh side, Stourbridge were finally beaten on the break, and the game finished 1-0.
The return leg at Ninian Park was 'a fast, open affair', with the Cardiff keeper under constant pressure. Again, Cardiff soaked up the pressure and won the leg by a single goal from a break from defence – scored by Welsh international Gilbert Reece.
"Although beaten in the chase for the Welsh cup," wrote J.T. Foxall, "the major prize of the season, the Division One Championship was in the bag along with the Merit Cup.
"With so many fantastic memories of excitement, goals and thrills, every Stourbridge supporter can say 'What a fantastic season!'"
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