Saturday, 25 January 2020

25/01/20 Review: Cadbury Athletic Reserves vs Coton Green Reserves

Cadbury Athletic Reserves vs Coton Green Reserves (Midland Football League Division Four)
Bournville Recreational Ground

Football is a strange old game- especially when you consider that for a groundhopper like myself there is much more excitement in traipsing a cold January game featuring two reserve teams from clubs in the Midland Football League than there would be in attending the FA Cup game just five miles up the road. Seems unlikely to those who aren't in the know, but for the strange few of us who do prefer the mossy terraces and single figure attendances, there is certainly no better experience than a trip to Bournville- the home of Cadbury chocolate Athletic Reserves!

Okay fine, it is also the home of chocolate

So I'll admit that I'm not as cool and "proper non-league" as I seemed in my opening remarks, but having made the effort to check out St Andrew's on my last trip to a game it is very much a chalk and cheese scenario. The city of Birmingham is certainly known for its football, as much as it is definitely known for its chocolate, but the real question for the readers that I would like to answer is could it be known for both at the same time? I say yes- which is why I made the special effort to drive from Stafford down the M6 and M5, through Smethwick and into the heart of the Midlands for a reserve match. Of course, this was not just any reserve match though and I wouldn't be the first nor the last to travel over 30 miles to see Cadbury Athletic's young second string side in action, because the side just so happen to house one of the most beautiful and historic non-league views.

To give you a potted history, Cadbury Athletic FC were set up in 1994- presumably as a work team for the neighbouring factories within Bournville model village- and they played at the Rec Ground until they progressed into a division which required them to move to a ground with floodlights. With the first team gone, the multi-use Georgian field continued to be used by the second team who are able to play at a level low enough that they don't need the ability to play midweek night matches. The first team, who are still affiliated with Cadbury confectionery, play their football in Division One of the Midland Football League now and they reside at the Triplex Sports Club. Although to be honest, if given the choice of playing at the gorgeous Bournville site or being able to compete in the Birmingham Midweek Floodlit Cup, I know what I'd pick.

They just don't make em like this anymore
Although I'd had the privileged of checking out 183 grounds before today's outing, I would struggle to name many better or more picturesque sights in a football ground than the feature-piece as I walked into the ground for the 2pm kick-off I was attending- and considering I've seen the beautiful tower of Bologna's Stadio Renato Dall'Arra and the magnificently dilapidated main stand at Solitude in Belfast, there is certainly a fair bit of competition. Alas, I wasn't just here to sight-see and I suppose I should write a little bit about that other thing that was going on... the game of football.

Time for some Midland Football League Fourth Division action
I must confess that I know little about the two teams doing battle and so my pre-match prediction of a 3-1 home win would ultimately be nothing more than a wild and inaccurate guess, especially when the home side went into the game in the bottom half of the table with only two wins from nine outings, compared to Coton Green who had won four so far and would no doubt be the favourites- if favourites even exist at this level. Either way, the game began with the hosts on top after an opener came from Cadbury's number 9 striker who thumped home a shot after his initial effort was denied by Coton Green's keeper. Cadbury 1-0 Coton. The opener looked to wake the game up in fairness and shortly after Joel Ayettey they almost doubled the lead fairly swiftly, but this time the strike from their number 11 whistled past the posts and was nothing more than a shot off target. At the other end the Chocolate Men weren't so tight and despite parking the Double Decker bus, we were beginning to get Wispa's of an equaliser, which came as Coton Green swung in a Curlywurly corner that went over the heads of the Flakes at the back for Athletic, allowing the visiting number 5 to head home a Crunchie header to make it one-all just before half-time. Cadbury 1-1 Coton.

All-square at the break
Needless to say that the second-half was a completely different story and Coton Green would run rampant in parts, but it did remain level until just after the hour-mark until a sloppy goal was bundled in. Cadbury 1-2 Coton. The few surrounding fans cheered as the red and black stripped side took the lead for the first time, but the best was still yet to come as their number 10 chested the ball down and then from 30-yards out he struck a sublime half-volley which looped high and then dipped back down, out of reach of the keeper's outstretched arms and into the goal to seal the points. Cadbury 1-3 Coton. Having seen a beautiful piece of architecture to start the afternoon, this goal was the icing on the already tasty (and presumably chocolatey) cake. But we weren't done yet and in stoppage time two of the Coton Green subs fought over who should take a free-kick, which then put all of the pressure on the number 12 to do something with it. He did- he scored- and that was home time for Cadbury Athletic. Cadbury 1-4 Coton. I've managed to get through this write-up without telling my readers that I don't actually like or eat chocolate, but still that didn't stop me popping into the shop after the game to buy some post-match presents for my partner... who wasn't at all disappointed to hear that I was going to Cadbury World without her!
What a magical place!

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