WOLVES and Albion are rightly proud of their great age, each being founded in the 1870s and founder members of the Football League.
But many of our non-league local sides have histories just as long; if not longer, and with plenty to take pride in. Thanks to the Centenery Edition of the Stourbridge FC Handbook, loaned to us by Andrew Hill of Wombourne, we can take a look at the history of that club, who trace their roots to the formation of Stourbridge Standard back in 1876; a year before the Wolves and two before the Baggies.
There were several football clubs playing in Stourbridge in the 1880s, but Stourbridge Standard were seen as the top of the pile. Playing their home games at Wood Street in Wollaston, they were primarily a Wollaston club, run by men from that village. But it was the Standard's successes during the 1887/88 season that saw them recognised as the town's official club, leading to Stourbridge Standard becoming Stourbridge FC in 1888.
At that time, with organised football in its infancy, there was no league for them to play in, so in the 1887/88 season all Standard's games were friendlies and cup games – they entered four knock-out competitions.
The friendlies got off to a bad start with a 3-0 defeat to Langley Green Vics, but three weeks later they thrashed Quarry Bank 7-0 at home, following it up with a 3-2 win away. Brockmoor were the Standard's next victims, on the wrong end of 2-1 and 3-0 wins. Before October was out, they racked up their biggest win of the season – 9-0 over Belbroughton.
Then came the cup ties. They knocked West Smethwick out of the Birmingham Junior Cup 7-0, but then came up against the mighty Smethwick Carriage Works and despite a draw, lost 4-1 in the rematch.
But it was in the Kidderminster Cup that the Standard really proved themselves. Stourport Unity were despatched 3-0, Quarry Bank 4-2, and then a one-all draw with Brierley Hill Alliance in the semi-final brought a replay at Aggborough in Kidderminster. Unsurprisingly not many travelled, and the few who did saw plenty of shots against the woodwork and another 1-1.
The third attempt to settle things took place at Stourbridge Cricket Ground in March 1888, and this time 3,000 punters turned out.
It was a rough game, and despite at least two twisted arms, one black eye, a kick to the brow and a winding, Standard took the lead in the first half when outside right Tommy Jones scored. It proved to be the only goal of the game, setting up a final with local rivals Wordsley Harriers. Wordsley had already knocked out their Kidderminster namesakes in the other semi-final, and proved tough opponents.
Stourbridge Cricket Ground hosted yet another draw, before the decisive replay. Though Wordsley complained that one of Standard's players was ineligible because he didn't live in the town, the game went ahead, and Stourbridge Standard lifted the cup with a 2-1 victory.
Buoyed by their success, they then went on to steamroller all comers in the Worcester Charity Cup. Among their victims were Worcester St George's, who suffered an 8-0 reverse, and Droitwich Town, who were pasted 4-0, before Messrs Jones and Parton scored one each against Worcester St Paul's to take the trophy.
With two cups in one season, the time had come for Stourbridge to adopt Standard as the town's own, and they were renamed Stourbridge FC.
According to County Express writer Jack Haden, writing in the Centenary Handbook: "Only a few people witnessed the first game by the new club – it was in the nature of a practice between the Probables and the Improbables, and the County Express reported that it was an 'uninteresting match' – on Saturday 15th September, 1888. There was only a meagre attendance on the following Saturday when the first club match was played against Wolverhampton Druids."
Stourbridge beat their scary-sounding opponents 3-0, thanks to a Tommy Jones hat-trick. The following week, they beat Smethwick Britannia 2-0, but were still not being taken fully to heart by the local community. Crowds were tiny, and some of those who did happen to see them complained that they looked a mess and needed a new strip.
Of course, there are no photographs from that time, the earliest known dates from 1922, when Stour won the Worcester Senior Cup, by which time they were in very neat looking white shirts.
But since their change of name, they have won the Southern League Division 1; SL Merit Cup; the Birmingham League; Birmingham Combination; Birmingham Senior Cup; Hereford Senior Cup; Camkin President Cup; the Dudley Guest Hospital Cup and the Keys Cup.
To take you back almost forty years to the club's 100th anniversary, we also reproduce some photographs from the 1975/6 season.
Let us know your memories of local football clubs. Write in, pay us a visit, or email gjones@blackcountrybugle .co.uk.