A barb in the tail of the bards.

After last week watching Linby Colliery a few miles from the ancestral home of Lord Byron this week I was only a few miles from Shakespear’s home at Stratford Town FC’s ground. I saw Stratford Town a few weeks ago at Ilkeston but I went to see F C Stratford play Shortwood United FC in the Hellenic League.

FC Stratford play their games at Stratford Town’s, Arden Garages Stadium, Knights Lane, Tiddington and have only been in existence for a short time since 2007. It was first started as Stratford Town ‘A’ changing names to FC Stratford four years later. They have quickly risen through the leagues to play in the Hellenic League Division 1 and now take part in the FA Vase. They play under the umbrella of Stratford Town FC.

Their opponents Shortwood FC from Nailsworth, just south of Stroud, by comparison have been around for over 100 years. Their ground is a very short distance from Forest Green Rovers who are in the same village and I’m sure that they hope their neighbours might one day move to their proposed new ground some miles away. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that they climbed out of the local leagues and by 1982 they had reached the Hellenic. They had an up and down era in that league until they won promotion to the Southern League and reached the quarter finals of the F.A. Vase. Two years later they played Port Vale in the first round proper of the F.A Cup losing 4-0 but this success could not be sustained and in 2018 resigned from the Southern League due to the financial demands on the club and the improvement of facilities. they have rejoined the Hellenic League where they play today.

It was a sunny day for the last few days of October with bright blue skies overlaid with a cobweb like white cloud and had dried out after some torrential overnight rain. There was an eeriness to the ground with only 30 supporters in this very clean, tidy and well appointed ground. None of the food bars were open or the bar as far as I could see. The pitch was flat and immaculate and was surrounded on one side by a covered seating stand with open seating down the other side. One end had covered standing and the other was open to the elements. There are other pitches around the ground including an all weather one all of which can be used for training and junior teams.

FC Stratford 3 v Shortwood United FC 2

Saturday 29th October 2022 Kick off 15.00 pm Hellenic Football League Division 1

Arden Garages Stadium, Knights Lane, Tiddington, Near Stratford on Avon.

The Bards v The Woods

Stratford – Dark blue shirts with orange trimming around the color and sleeves and black shorts.

Shortwood – Red shirts with three thick vertical white stripes down the front and black shorts.

In the early exchanges some players kept slipping up following the heavy overnight rain but it was the away team that found their footings first. A mistake of a missed kick by the home goalkeeper found the ball at the feet of Nathy Payne who from 25 yards out on the left hand side of the goal riffled a shot across the goalkeeper to nestle in the corner of the net for a one nil lead. So one goal up after 17 minutes was soon two when four minute later a corner on the right was sent to the far post where it was met it with a bullet header which was sliced into his own goal by a defender. Shortwood continued to have the best of the first half with more trickery and better finishing. Stratford had played some good positional football but final passes and finishing let them down. Shortwood’s first half lead was well deserved.

The half time team talk in the home sides dressing room must have been good because they were a different side that came out. They were much more positive in their approach and started to dominate play hitting the crossbar on 62 minutes but ten minutes later Stratford finally scored when a cleared ball fell to Daniel Chaundy who lashed it along the ground past the goalkeeper. Despite Stratford’s dominance it wasn’t until the final moment when Shortwood’s goalkeeper parried the ball into the path of the on coming Benjamin Cook who made it 2.2.

The referee now seemed to find some unexpected over time and 6 minutes into that a home player made it to the by line and knocked it back for Felix William Miles to tap the ball home for an amazing win. The referee played a further minute and Stratford had certainly won the game right at the end with a barb at the tail end.

At half time a food kiosk was open and I was able to buy a tray of chips which were a nice golden colour, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside with no oily after taste. Unfortunately they were only luke warm gaining a score of 62.

There was a new look program that was given away as part of he entrance price. A very brightly coloured offering with plenty of photos, news and history.

Considering the ground, facilities easy parking, food, covered watching areas and the level of football FC Stratford deserve a crowd of more than 30. Hopefully the efforts the officials are putting in will eventually get a better following.

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