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Two golden eras for the footballing Citizens

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: December 23, 2013

By Gavin Jones

  • The treble-winning Darlaston FC side of 1937/38, with their impressive haul of silverware.

  • The 1972/73 Birmingham Senior Cup winning side

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DARLASTON Football Club have as long and proud a history as many of the country's best known top-flight teams, and long may they continue.

Despite recent threats to their very existence, it's hoped that with the concerted efforts of a hard core of determined followers, Darlaston will be back in the near future.

In the meantime, here are a couple of images from better times, both of which come courtesy of Darlaston reader Ray Williams.

The earliest, above, comes from what was a golden age for Darlaston, just before the Second World War. In season 1937/38, they won the Birmingham Combination League, the Tillotson Cup, and the Wednesbury Charity Cup.

Though there are no names supplied with the picture, we do know, from Neil Chambers' authoritative book The History of Darlaston Town Football club, what their line-up was. Neil's book features a very similar photograph, and though clearly not the same one, the same players and officials feature. The players of that all-conquering squad:

J Westwood, George Davis, Joe Allen, Tommy Hammond, ___ Dugmore, Fred Humpage, W Hill, Herbert Hunt, Harry Wiles, Cyril Allcock, J Tremelling, Jack Young, Freddy Preston, ___ Slater, ___ Wootton, Jack Burns, ___Everton, L Wist, W Firones, ___Stevens, Tom Newey, ___ Pyne, and ___ Brookes.

Having almost gone bust in the early thirties, Darlaston had climbed from the foot of the table to a total domination within a few short years. They won the Birmingham Combination for the first time since 1911, in a league which featured the A teams of Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion, Birmingham and Coventry, attracting crowds of up to 3,000 for their higher profile matches.

As Neil Chambers puts it:

"They started that season like a runaway train, unbeaten in their opening nine games, picking up 16 points from 18."

By the start of 1938 there were four clubs still in contention for the title, but Darlaston quickly made their intentions known with an 11-1 home win against Bournville, followed by a 4-0 pasting of Walsall Reserves.

A defeat to Cheltenham left them four points behind leaders Aston Villa A, and they ensured they wouldn't lose again. Over the next four games, three of them away, they scored 21 goals and conceded 1. They followed this up with a winning run of 17 games, accruing 61 goals and letting in just 8. Darlaston bagged the title despite Villa running them close, and set a club record of 135 goals. On this form, the Tillotson Cup was a formality, and the cherry on the top was the Wednesbury Charity Cup, which they won for the fifth time in a row.

The second picture, at left, is from a more recent age. Taken in 1973, it shows The Citizens, as they've long been known, with the Birmingham Senior Cup, which they lifted on beating Leamington 2-1 in the final at Walsall's old ground, Fellows Park.

Darlaston came close to a double that year, losing out in the final of the Walsall Senior Cup to Bilston FC.

They lined up as follows: Back row: Trainer Harry Waldron, Alec Jackson, Bryn Davies, ?, Steve Walker, Keith Ball, Gerry Bevan, Granville Palin, Roger Grice, John Bellingham, Bill Pope (coach).

Front: Brian Punter, Ray Hill, Reg Cooper, (chairman), Mick Babb, Les Cocker.

Were you a member of that seventies side? Share your memories with us: write in or email gjones@blackcountry bugle.co.uk.

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